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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Our Friend Craig

We have made some great Craigslist purchases recently.

There is the white, soon-to-be-yellow, night stand that I bargained down to $50 from $100.  Who would have paid $100 for it is beyond me, but thats not the point.  The point is that I got it 50% off!

Then there was the shabby chic, barn red buffet that we purchased for the kitchen.  The sellers even delivered the item and all for a cost of $70!  The buffet needs a little work, mainly a new paint or refinishing job, but it looks great in the dining room and provides us storage for those little things that we are still using too frequently to put away in the garage, such as measuring tapes and sanding blocks.  The fact that we got an entire solid wood buffet for the same price as the little white night stand (we paid $20 to have the buffet delivered), makes the shine of the night stand a little less bright, but hindsight is 20/20 and the night stand will soon be beautiful - so there!

Then there was the addition of the sewing box.  I had had my eye on a similar one for $100 but it was black and red and didnt really match our decor.  Plus, at the time, I hadnt fully adopted sewing, so getting the box for a future hobby didnt seem like a wise purchase.  I found this one for $65 and it was in near perfect condition with natural wood finish and three full tiers of storage.  I tried to negotiate its price down to $50 only to settle at $60.  Hey, it was still a $5 discount - thats nearly 10% off!

The last purchase I made was a bit stealthy.  I found a bench that could double as a coffee table for the couch in front of the fire.  The idea was that we wouldnt have to sit in front of the tv when we were watching movies on our computer and we could instead enjoy the glow of a warm fire in the back ground.  It was $25 and I ended up paying full price mainly because I was too lazy to haggle over $5.  Its real wood and in pretty good shape.  There is storage in the seat of the bench and J is fairly certain that its an old piano bench.  I dont have a photo of it since its pretty standard and wont look quite right until we get a rug under it.

As we are totally spent at the moment, there will be no more purchases from Craig although I am keeping my eye out for a dining room table and an antique dresser with a mirror like the one pictured below.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Anything but Painting

On Wednesday of last week I asked J which room he wanted to paint this weekend.  We both agreed that the Master Bedroom needed our attention.  After all, I had finally finished the curtains in that room and they were garish in comparison to the poop brown wall color.  On Friday, however, when I got home from work, we discovered that we had done a bit too much shopping for the house last week with the new kitchen faucet, the new curtain rods, and the (fabulous) sewing cabinet.  In short, we were out of money for paint. 

We did think ahead, however, and had purchased the 5 gallon bucket of primer, knowing full well that every wall in our new home was in need of repainting.  We figured that instead of painting, we would get the rest of the rooms ready for whenever the money did reappear in our checking account.

It turns out, we had run out of steam as well.  By Saturday afternoon, after spending a nice morning having breakfast with friends and strolling the antique stores in town, it became very clear that no one was going to be priming anything.  Instead, J created lesson plans for his classes this week and I converted two 84 inch sheers into three curtains.

When we first moved into the home we had expected to have the window treatments left behind as it said on the spec sheet for the house.  After moving in we realized that the Master Bedroom, with a window that looks directly out to the street, was left window treatment free.  Having been Christmas time, I put up some very festive, very green tissue paper to block our bodies from the street but after about a week of living with a green hue J implored me to find another solution.

After a trip to Target I had purchased and installed pressure rods with 84 inch sheers over the windows.  It didnt keep us from flashing our neighbors at night if we happened to leave the light on, but it kept random pedestrians from glancing into our private bedroom during the day.  At $7.99 a piece, the sheers were a economical solution to our immediate problem of privacy.

Notice the spacing of the grommets has been corrected as well!
This weekend I took one of the sheers, turned it horizontal, and sewed a pocket for a curtain rod.  It happened to be just the right length to cover the glass portion of the window in the Master Bedroom and allowed the navy curtains to hang at the appropriate length since the sheers were no longer gathering on the floor.  The result is a sheer curtain with sleek horizontal lines that forms a flat panel behind our grommetted navy faux-silk curtains.  The sheer cannot be pulled to either side, but given that our window faces the street I figured we would never want to pull them aside for any reason anyways.

I turned the other sheer curtain into two cafe curtains for the kitchen.  It just so happened that the top and bottom hem of the sheer were the same width so I folded the curtain in half, cut them to the right length, hemmed them, and stuck them up in the windows.  The pressure rods I had purchased for the bedroom were reused in the kitchen since the window was the same width.

That's our Vomer kitty in the window watching the rain.

The new sheers for the kitchen also solve a privacy issue since we took down and tossed the blinds that were in the window last month given that they were totally disgusting and dirty from the prior owners.  The sheers let light in and block the view of our kitchen from the alley which is important since we sometime run for a glass of water in the evenings around bedtime in the nude. 

On Sunday when J was at work, I took the time to sew the curtain for the guest bedroom.  I purchased the fabric from at 40% off and found a free shipping coupon online as well.  The fabric was originally $40 and I got it for something like $24 a yard and saved $12 on shipping.  It was a deal.  I hadnt actually seen the fabric in person which was a bit of a gamble, but I found a blog where the person had used the fabric in the office for curtains and they looked lovely, so I took the chance on it too.

The fabric was the most luxurious I have worked with yet.  It was soft and smooth and rich and I wished I had bought 6 more yards of it to make a blanket with.  Its a cotton and linen blend and the design is a damask that mimics ikat style.  The background is slightly off-white and the greys and yellows are variegated.  I purchased just three yards  so that I could do a single panel curtain and pull it back to one side to let in the light.  The window in the guest bedroom is small and the room is narrow so I didnt want to make the room feel cluttered or more narrow with a curtain on both sides.  In addition, I didnt want to pay double for the project.

 As always, my kitties were a big help in making sure the fabric didnt float away.  Once the room is painted I will post photos since you can see the fabric design here and the wall color is so hideous still that it doesnt do the curtain any favors.  With grey walls and yellow accents, the guestroom is inspired by some homes I saw when visiting New Orleans with my mother last October.  The color combination was so regal, elegant, and timeless that  I wanted to reproduce it in my own home.  I think this curtain fabric is the prettiest thing I have seen in quite a while!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Something Wonderful!

I found something wonderful today on Craigslist.  I had spotted a similar item on craigslist before but it was painted too darkly for my taste and they were asking more than I wanted to pay for it.  This piece is much more my style since its natural wood with a thin varnish and the price is just about right.

Its an antique sewing box!  And it will serve multiple purposes.  I am in need of a place to put all my sewing crap.  That hobby certainly contributes to the build up of stuff such as scissors and thread and needles and scraps of fabric so its good to have a place for all that.  My previous storage solution was a plastic bag from Joanns.  While the bag helped contain all the sewing stuff, you cant set your coffee on it, or a picture frame, or even admire it for its creative structure and aethetic appeal.  You can do all that and more with this antique sewing box. 

Just look at all that storage!

The best thing is that it doesnt require any work so its not another project piece and it doesnt require a long drive across town to pick up since the current owners live in my same town.  I think it will be great as an occational table between the two chairs in the living room.  I can hardly wait to bring it home with me!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Grommetted Curtains

I am sitting here, sipping my coffee on the sofa with a Boo kitty at my hip, dryer running in the back ground, gazing out the living room window that is flanked by my (lovely) tab top curtains, and I am thinking to myself how easy those were in comparison.  I am comparing them to the solid navy silk-esque grommetted curtains I "finished" yesterday.

These will be the perfect length once the sheers are cut to fit the window.

The faux-grommets from Joann's worked like a dream.  Mark the spot on the fabric, cut out the circle, stick in the front piece, pop on the back piece and voila!  The circle that you cut doesnt even have to be all that perfect since its edges will be covered by the plastic grommet.  They are a bit pricey in my opinion, but Joann's always has coupons so you can just print one off the web or wait for one to show up in the mail. Either way, its the way to go if you want grommet style curtains but cant find them ready-made.

The difficult part for me was the solid navy fabric.  My Mom commented about how difficult it would be to make certain the patterned fabric curtains matched on both sides, but I found that the patterned fabric was much easier to "measure."  I am not much of one for precision in most cases and I simply trimmed them to length based on matching the pattern along the bottom.  In this case, I spent quite a bit on fabric and was determined that they would be constructed perfectly.  Without a pattern to reference I felt as though I was left to guess about the various measurements.  I eyeballed the top border without too much of a problem, but determining the length of the curtain was a bear!  Its one thing to whip out a ruler and measure a 2 inch seam and quite another to find out if both panels can be hemmed at 86 inches!

See the bunching!

In the end, the process involved pushing all the living room furniture to one side and laying the panels, one at a time, flat on the floor.  I then took my measuring tape, the hardware store kind, set to 86 inches and measured from the top.  I also ironed the crease into the fabric while it was on the floor so I wouldnt have to pin and move and screw everything up!  I was worried the floor was going to ignite right under me, but I think all I managed to do was sanitize the area with a nice burst of steam.   There was a near breakdown in the middle of this whole process, but I reminded myself that curtains werent worth a breakdown and I pulled it together to get them finished before they wore out my last nerve.  

The small hole below and to the right of the  curtain rod is where the sheer is supposed to hang.

The double rod I purchased from Bed Bath and Beyond isnt adjustable so the sheer curtain I was going to hang behind the navy grommetted curtains lays too closely to the main curtain rod.  It makes the waves or folds of the curtain get all smooshed along the backside and creates a mostly unsightly window treatment.  I contributed to this unfortunate situation by only buying two packs of grommets.  Evidently they are supposed to be spaced about 4-5 inches apart, but no one told me and the package didnt say so either, so my folds are too big given that I spaced them about 9-10 inches apart. Needlesstosay, I will be stopping by Joann's later today to pick up some additional grommets.  I am hoping by doubling the grommets I will also be able to use the subsidiary rod to hang the sheer curtain behind but if not, I will just hang the rod provided with different mounting hooks in a slightly lower position to get the same effect.  Since the sides of the rod holding the sheer curtain will be hidden behind the navy panels, no one will be the wiser!

The curtains appear more like this, matte with a sheen, but the flash made them look extra shiny.

The curtains themselves are wonderful though.  The slightly off-navy color matches the darkest shade in our duvet and they have a lovely sheen with little nubbins of non-shiny fabric to give it a bit of interest.  The dark color of the fabric blocks out the neighbor's spastic motion sensor light that flickers on every time the wind blows and allows us to turn the light on in the bedroom without giving our neighbors a free peep show.  Its a beautiful thing and I cant wait for the wall color in the room to match the elegance of the curtains.

Friday, February 11, 2011

No More Projects

It has been suggested, by J, that I not purchase any more project pieces of furniture until we get some of the current house projects out of the way.  For instance, we still need to paint the entry, hall, both bathrooms, and both bedrooms.  I need to complete the curtains that I started the other day for the Master Bedroom and start the curtain for the guest bedroom once the fabric arrives (its beautiful and I got it 40% off at with free shipping).  I will also need to strip or repaint the buffet and repaint the cute bedside table I bought for the guest room. 

Thats not THAT many projects!  Ha!

I would like to add one more project to the mix.  I want an old 5-panel door and I want to replace the panels with mirrors and hang it on the wall in the dining room over the buffet.  I am not sure if J will go for it or how to even replace the panels with mirrors, but I figure even if it doesnt end up in the dining room, it would make an interesting piece some place in the house.

The picture above is the inspiration I am drawing from.  They ended up putting pictures in place of the panels and hung it on the wall as I would like to do.  The bold color is a great touch but I think semi-gloss white paint bordering the mirrors would make something slightly country a bit more elegant.  Imagine the image below rotated and hung on the wall rather than on hinges...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Another Reveal

I have been talking a lot about our new kitchen and how wonderful the transformation turned out.  I have been beaming about how bright and airy it appears and how much happier it makes me.  I have been talking about the new buffet and the great plans I have for a dining room table. Well, here it is...the "new" kitchen.

It went from this:

To this:

And all in just a few weeks time.

Here are a few more pictures that will hit it on home. 

We are planning to paint the inside of the open cabinet for a more polished look

There will soon be curtains on the window, but doesnt the white frame look gorgeous!

This is a view from the living room into the kitchen.  We selected colors that transition well between rooms.
We are just SO thrilled with the results.  The cabinets are still old and busted but they are much more tolerable and the new color scheme makes even being in the room more pleasant.  I am less grumpy when cooking and everything cleans up so much easier now that it has a semi-gloss finish.

I think my Dad is planning on coming to visit at the end of April and one of the projects he may choose to help us with is changing out the light fixtures for something that matches the new decor.  Not only do I not really know what type of light fixture I want in the new space, but I have no idea how to change a fixture anyways so I am waiting for the expert.

While the clutter and disarray in the kitchen left me wanting to tear my hair out, the kitties loved the little nooks and crannies and drawers.  They loved discovering new areas to hide and all the new places they could squeeze their tiny bodies in to.

Vomer particularly loved to wait in the space left vacant by the drawer below the cutting board.  I think she was hoping I would drop a fresh piece of shrimp by accident the entire time.

Boo, on the other hand, liked to curl up in the drawer with the spare kitchen towels.  This of course meant that they all had to be rewashed before reassembling the kitchen. 

The things we put up with for the love of our pets!

"It really ties the room together"

My first real sewing project was to construct some tab top curtains for the living room.  Thanks to Calico Corners, I found a beautiful material with a Moroccan Damask print.  The brick red, orange, brown, cream,and dark green colors work well with the furniture and paint colors we chose for the room and the grand scale of the print makes the room a bit more interesting.

Sewing the tab top curtains was not fun.  The curtains themselves werent a problem and I found that making the pattern line up wasnt a problem at all.  What was a pain in the ass was the tabs.  After folding and sewing and folding and sewing, attaching the tabs to the top of the curtain was nothing short of a miracle.  The fabric of the curtains is 100% flax which is a bit like a linen so it wasnt too thick but I guess after several layers of fabric the sewing machine didnt want to sew it.  Part of the problem was that I didnt have a thick enough needle so I broke two of those in the process, but in the end the curtains look great and really do tie the room together.

The new curtains spurred me to rearrange the furniture.  See, there was previously a couch in front of the window and it blocked the view of half the curtains and made closing and opening them a bit of a challenge.  This new configuration sticks the desk/work space in the nook at the side of the fireplace and relocates a sofa in front of the fire.  We still need a few rugs for the space and a slim coffee table to put your feet up on in front of the fire, but this configuration really seems to work well and you can now see the full length of the curtains behind the chairs.

A closed view of the curtains

The sofa in front of the fireplace

The new location of the desk

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dining Room Tables

The buffet arrived yesterday and is great.  Its worth at least $100 even though I only paid $50 for it.  It needs a thick layer of paint but is a perfect length and depth for the dining room.  The kitties loved exploring it yesterday too - must have had some interesting smells.  Its not quite as red as I thought it would be but is a brick tone thats a bit more subtle.  It will work until the weather gets good enough to take it outside for a thorough sanding.

With that piece of furniture introduced to the dining area, I was inspired to find some dining tables that might work in the space.  I would ideally like to seat 10 people with the leaves in and want to try a bit more of an eclectic look by incorporating chairs of different styles.  I was hoping to find some with an upholstered seat so I could unify them through a textile but we'll see how that goes.  Gotta get a table first. 

The tables I found are on the pricey side - for us - but I think its possible to find something similar on craigslist or at the auctions that I have just discovered in the area.  They will already be a little loved but they will also be a lot cheaper.

I tend to like the classic style and think the one with colored legs might work best with the eclectic look I am hoping to achieve.  I particularly like the little floral pattern on the legs that is reminiscent of the Victorian era.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Watching the Paint Dry

Well, we arent so much watching the paint dry as waiting for the paint to dry, but you get the picture.  J put the cabinet doors back on last week and the kitchen has been completely transformed - completely.  I put the final coat of paint on the drawers this weekend and we are giving them a few days to cure before sitting them back in their respective locations.

I would have taken some pictures of the almost completed project, but the contents of the drawers are sitting out all over the kitchen.  Needlesstosay, I want my kitchen and dining room space back.  I dont want to find my kitties lounging on my silverware any longer and I am looking forward to eating at the dining room table every now and then instead of in front of the TV. 

After the drawers are back in place, there are a few others things that need to be taken care of in the area before it can truly be considered complete.  First, I need to get the curtains up on the windows.  Once I get the master bedroom curtains done, I will be repurposing a long sheer from Target into two custom kitchen curtains.  Second, we are looking for a buffet for the dining room area as well as a new kitchen table.  The one we have from Jonathan's parents has varnish that melts every time it gets the slightest bit warm out and it has a leaf that isnt the same color as the rest of the table.  Ideally the buffet wont stick out from the wall too far, contains storage, and will serve as a depository for our bills and netflix dvds.  We would like our dining room table to seat 6 and have the potential to seat 8 or 10 with additional leaves.  I have yet to find one in a style I like so the search is still on. 

This is the photo of a buffet we may be picking up courtesy of craigslist.  It is solid wood, all the drawers work, and its 6 feet long but only 18 inches deep so it would work great in the space.  Its also only $50 which makes up for the fact that its painted barn red - paint is something we can work with!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Little (Hairy) Helpers

I have had two snow days in a row.  Actually, its not so much the snow thats the problem, its the ice.  Sadly, I havent left the house in two days and I cant believe I am saying this, but I miss going to work.  I am done sitting around in my sweats and having to clean house.  I am done.

I am also done with sewing my first set of curtains!  I made tab top curtains out of a FABULOUS fabric I got at Calico Corners.  Its beautiful.  Its my new love - sorry J. 

There is a Boo Kitty hiding under there!

As soon as I got the fabric out to measure and cut, I found that I had some very cute helpers. Vomer and Boo had the best of times with the fabric.  They practiced their run and slide move and they burrowed underneath it.  All this,of course, made it nearly impossible to cut a straight line.  Still, how can you be mad when they are so darn cute?

I will post pictures of the completed curtains once we get them hung on the rod.