Friday, April 23, 2010

Adding Some Detail - Lamp Update

You may remember both the nightstand redo and the lamp redo for the boys' room well, now that we have an accent color there is an added detail to the lamp.

Using two different thicknesses of bias tape and some hot glue

I turned all the perfectly fine, all white lamp and shade into something just a bit nicer. 

And it looks great against the blue wall and coordinates perfectly with the bedding. 

It is always amazing to me how a little detail like some bias tape on a lampshade can make such a difference.  I am trying to remember this fact when I get overwhelmed with a room redo or a piece of furniture makeover.  Sometimes it is the little things that can make the biggest impact. 

What little detail(s) have you added to a plain or solid colored item that made a big impact?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dollar Store Finds Turned Votive Holders

I love poking around dollar stores.  Why?  You never know what you will find.  Last visit, in addition to the pieces featured in this post, I got a bunch of seeds for our garden.  Yay!  Some of them were planted in my seed starter kits and have started to grow.

But back to the project.  I found a couple of votive holder that were already an oiled bronze color (score, no need to spray paint) and a couple of small glass vases.  Below is one set. 

I flipped the voitive holder over, applied superglue to the metal edge, set the vase on top making sure it was level and...tada...

For only $2, I think it is a cute and slightly different from the usual votive holder. 

I duplicated the same process on the other two pieces for a second holder.

I placed one in our basement guest room on the revamped table.  I think it looks perfect in that spot with the bronze color looking fabulous with the espresso color of the table. 

The other one ended up in our living room to give a little atmosphere on our Craigslist end table that still is in dire need of a redo. 

Don't you just love the vase? It was a wedding present made specially for us by my mother's cousin.

Not too shabby to end up with two votive holders for a whopping $4. 

What creations have you come up with from your Dollar Store finds?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring has Sprung!

Spring has arrived here in the northern climes.  And it is exciting to see what is coming up in our yard since this is our first spring here. 

The forsythia is blooming.

The tree outside our office is blooming (and the big bumble bees are in heaven).

The one of our rhodadendrons in the back yard had begun to bloom.

The hyacynths are blooming making the back yard smell amazing.  (Those little suckers are really potent!)

Does anyone have any idea what this plant is?  It has pretty blue flowers and we have a ton of them in the backyard.

We even have a robin's nest. 

And maybe best of all, some of my veggies are starting to sprout.

We are planning a garden this year a la Square Foot Gardening.  Next up in the "creating a garden" department is moving some shrubs so I can place my raised garden boxes.  Watch for posts on what I am sure will be quite an adventure.

Has Spring sprung in your area?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Marble Coffee Table Revealed

Remember this table?  I gave you all a sneak peak way back in January.

I first spied this lovely piece while out with an old friend and fell in love.  While the color was all wrong, the grey and white marble top is fabulous.  While I would have purchased it on the spot, I wanted to make sure that Hubs was on the same page with my vision for both the table and the color scheme for the living room redo.  Lucky for me, Hubs saw the potential and $55 later, it was headed home with us.

Now that the weather has warmed up enough so I don't see my breath while working in the garage and paint doesn't take days to dry, here it is in all its repainted glory.

SOOOO much better, right?  I absolutely love it. 

And that elephant I referred to in the original post? The name of the paint color is Elephant Skin by Behr in their primer + paint line. It is a fabulous color. It is a dark grey with just a hint of tan. I am already trying to figure out other places to use it in the room.

Redone, the table looks fabulous in the room, especially with the new wall color (a post on the trials and tribulations of the repainting coming soon.)

And no, our living room is not usually this crammed together on one side of the room.  I am still working on the other side of the room.  It is pretty bad. But I am trying to work on it bit by bit. 

So until this is done, our living room furniture will be crammed on the other side of the room. 

And there are a couple of upcoming projects in the pic of the living room furniture.  Keep checking in to see what they might be. 

Cost Breakdown:
$55 Cost of table
$  5 One can Kilz spray Primer
$  6 1/3 of a quart of Behr Elephant Skin in semi-gloss
$66 Total Cost

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Boys' Room Dresser Makeover - Before & After

During the makeover of the boys' room, we realized that we needed a dresser.  Something that could fit in with the surf/beach theme they wanted for the room. 

When I found this dresser on Craiglist for $30, I knew it would be the perfect piece.  It is not a factory-made piece but instead was handcrafted from what looks like high grade 2x4s and has hand carved wooden handles.  It weighs a ton and is one of the sturdiest pieces of furniture I have come across.  Unfortunately, it was also ugly as all get out. 

Luckily, the ugly was easily covered up with primer and paint. 

The best part?  I already had the paint I needed in my ever expanding garage "paint store."  With the grey paint I planned on using (found on the "oops table" at Home Depot for a steal) matching the bedding I was making for the boys' beds exactly.  What a wonderful bit of coincidence.  So other than three cans of spray primer I had to purchase, my finishing costs were minimal.

The dresser fits perfectly in the space in the corner of the room and the deep drawers fit a surprising amount of clothing.  Even better, the boys think it is cool that they have a "custom finished" piece of furniture made over just for them.  Glad my "clients" are happy with the finished project. 

Cost Breakdown
$30  Dresser (from our local Craiglist)
$  5 White Paint (1/4 gallon of semi gloss)
$  1 Grey paint (1/4 gallon of flat enamel from the Oops table)
$15 three cans of Kilz spray primer
$51 Total Project Cost

Sunday, February 21, 2010

We are Still Here!

I promise.

I have been working on odds and ends around the house since it has been too cold to do any painting in the garage.  My poor little space heater just can't keep up.  And I will admit that I have been dreaming of Spring so have also been spending time planning my garden space.

Though we do have some interesting things coming in the next week or so.  We are finally getting things up on the walls in the office.  The home theatre is getting set up in the basment rec room (though we still need furniture).   We are starting on painting in the living room. 

So now that we are back at it, posts will be starting up again.

I do have to ask, is there any interest in seeing some of the photos and design styles that inspire us as we try to work some design magic in our house?  I know that some bloggers do this so just wanted to get some feedback to see if there is any interest from our readers.  So let us know and we will get working on those types of posts.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sneek Peek - Night Table Redo

This little nightstand was a Craigslist find and cost $10 (I think).  We bought it with plans of putting it in our center bedroom.

A good cleaning and a coat of semi-gloss white paint will make her look like new.

Stay tuned for the reveal.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

From Freecycle Castoff to Redone Bedroom Light

Have you heard about Freecycle?  It is made up of 4,876 groups with 6,905,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.

I think it is great.  While you do see some odd requests (my favorite was someone looking for a poster with 13 black and white cows on a green background), most are for items people give away/throw away every day.  Like this lamp.

I got it from someone who was redoing their basement and the brown didn't go with the new color scheme.  It didn't come with a shade, but the price was right (free).  Glad the woman didn't know how easy it would be to make it look fresh and new with a few coats of paint. 

I started by scuffing the ceramic slightly with a sanding sponge just to give the primer something to "grab." Then a coat of white primer.  Followed by several coats of white glossy spray paint.

Top it with a shade from Target and we have a lamp that doesn't look anything like what we started with.

I think it looks lovely sitting on top of another one of my frugal finds, the Craigslist nightstand that cost less than $20.  I just love the way the white sets off the blue wall color. 

Once I get the bedding and other details finalized in our front bedroom (aka the boys room), I will be adding some coordinating trim to the edge of the white shade.  Wish me luck that I can get those decisions made in the next few weeks.

Cost of the Project:
$  0.00 lamp off Freecycle
    2.00 1/2 can primer
    3.50 can white glossy spray paint
  20.00 lamp shade from Target
$25.50 Total Cost

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Entering the Digital Age!

In honor of the dip in temps in our neck of the woods, I thought that today would be all about gas.  Not methane, though we have quite a bit of that thanks to Hubs.  I am talking about natural gas, the kind we use to heat our house. 

We have a multi-zone, natural gas fueled, hot water baseboard heating system with four thermostats.  Zone One is the Family Room and Kitchen*, Zone Two is the Dining Room and Living Room*, Zone Three is the Office and Front Bedroom*, Zone Four is the Master Bedroom* and the Center Bedroom, Zone 5 is the bathrooms (this zone comes on whenever another zone kicks on). The * denotes which room the thermostat is located in.

It is quite nice because we are able to turn the heat up in only the areas where we are hanging out versus heating the entire house.  The not nice part?

We had the old fashioned "lever style" thermostats.  You know the kind I am taking about.  The ones where you have to guestimate and eyeball what the current temp is and hope the temp you want is the temp you are setting it for.  Personally I loath these types of thermostats.

After getting a wake up call in the form of our December natural gas bill (more than double November's), we realized that we needed to get a better handle on how we are heating the house.   Solution:  digital thermostats.  Like these.

We went with the most basic model since we didn't need it to be programmable and we only have a 2-wire system.  We got these at Home Depot for about $25.00 a unit.

Then it was a matter of switching them out.  The switching out part was easy.  Since we have a 2-wire system, we only had two connections to make.    Here is a tip:  Take a pencil and wrap the wire you removed from the old fixture around it.  This will ensure that the wire won't fall back into the wall. 

One hiccups we found was that some of the thermostats had an old-fashioned mercury switch.  Needless to say once those were carefully removed, they got double bagged and placed in the basement waiting to be brought to our county's Public Works Department for proper disposal since placing liquid mercury in the regular trash is a big no no.

I swear this gizmo looks like a high school science project from the 50s.

It actually took more time to sand, spackle and paint the area that was previously covered by the old thermostats.




No these were not taken all in the same room.  I realized that I hadn't taken photos of all the stages in any one room.  Whoops.  So you get to see the Benjamin Moore Riviera Azure from our front bedroom, the awful tan from our living room and Valspar Key Lime Pie from our kitchen.

Now all we need to do is wait to see if being able to set each zone to a definite temperature will result in lower bills or at least not the same shocking jump we saw in the last bill.  Personally, I think it will be the latter since January is our coldest month here is Michigan.   

Will keep you posted when we get out bill for the last week of December and the first three weeks of January.  

Tip of the Project:  After you disconnect the thermostat wires, wrap them around a pencil to ensure they don't fall back into the wall.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Making a Square a Circle

As you may remember, a few weeks ago I made the surprising discovery that several of the bedroom doors had less than optimal doorknob holes (like the one above).  It made replacing the original "attractive" 70s brass doorknobs with the new brushed nickel ones problematic, to say the least.

So we purchased one of these and got to work. 

The problem?  Since there was already a hole in the door, how would we use the hole saw bit to round it off to make an actual circle.

After some trial and error (OK, more along the lines of the saw jumping and skipping around the hole and me using an interesting selection of words not to be used in polite company), Hubs and I figured out how to make the process work smoothly. 

Here's are the steps we worked out.

1.Place the door across your saw horses.  You will be drilling through the door, so you don't want to put it on a solid surface.

2.  After placing the correct sized hole saw on your drill, start the bit spinning.

3.  Bracing yourself, place the edge of the bit at an angle at the edge of the circle you want to drill. Create a small groove.


4.  Slowly rotating the angle of the hole saw, repeat step 3 on another side of the circle.

5.  Repeat step 4 on the third side of the hole.

6.  At this point, using the grooves you created earlier as a guide, straighten the hole saw and applying pressure begin to work the saw through the door.  The grooves should keep the saw in line until you get further into the door.

7.  Eventually, you will make it through the door.

Now you have the correct sized hole for your doorknob.

I do have to be totally honest, I did have some skipping on my door (which caused some rather colorful language to be uttered during this endeavor.) . 

However, it wasn't anything that a little sandable wood filler and a coat of white semi-gloss paint didn't fix.

And this

looks so much better than this.

If the instructions weren't clear or you have any other tips, please let us know. 

I am sure we will run into more doors that need some "rounding off" as we continue to replace our doorknobs.

Sneek Peek - Coffee Table Revamp

We got the coffee table above at a local antique store.  LOVE the marble top, HATE the (dingy) yellow and gold base.  I know that gray and yellow are hot right now but not this yellow and not with the gold.

With the selection of our new wall colors, we have a better idea of how the direction of decor in the living room.  This means it is time to get rid of the yellow. 


All I can tell you about the revamp is that there is an elephant involved.  How's that for an obscure clue?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Happy New Year (Several Weeks Late)

Happy New Year! (a few weeks late!!)  I realized that this post has been sitting as a draft for the last 3 weeks.  Whoops!

It is hard to believe that another year has past.  And what a year it has been.  We sold a house, bought a house, started to remodel a house, hosted a couple of parties including the big family Christmas Eve party, tore up a bathroom, repainted several pieces of furniture and painted a bunch of rooms.  Wow!  With all that, I can only imagine what the next 12 months (OK, next 11 months and 1 week) will bring. 

So in the time honored tradition of making resolutions, I thought I would share some of ours.

For the Home

1. Institute the "15 Minute Rule" before bed each evening. This means spending 15 minutes cleaning up the messes of the day so the next day starts out without that "man, the house is a wreck" feeling.
2. No beginning a new home project without completing one unfinished project.
3. No bringing in a new piece of furniture to be refinished without finishing a piece currently waiting to be redone.
4. Never let the "To Be Filed" pile get above the top of it's bin.
5. Get new food storage containers so we can get rid of the dreaded box of random lids and bottoms.
6. Organize craft supplies.
7. Sort through last boxes from our August 2009 move in the basement.
8. Make regular donations to charity to reduce amount of stuff in the house.

For the Body
1. Exercise 30 minutes a day at least 3 days a week.
2. Try one new healthy recipe each week.
3. Restart WW with a goal of losing 50 lbs. (This one is mine, not Hubs')

For the Blogs
1. Post to each blog at least twice a week.
2. Create an ongoing "series" for each blog that posts monthly.

Here's hoping that at least some of them will last through the end of February.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Elbow Grease + a Coat of Paint = A New Nightstand

Have I told you lately how much I love Craigslist? OK, maybe I have.  But it is true.  And pieces like this are the reason.

This is not a good before pic.  
I apparently forgot to take a pic of the end table in all its dinged wood and formica topped glory.

This little table was $7.  It is solid wood but very very dinged up.  As an added bonus the top is formica.  Not exactly a decorators dream piece.

But as I have learned, a lot of elbow grease (sanding and more sanding) and a coat of paint (well, several coats) will result in something that looks entirely different.  Especially when the piece has nice lines and good storage space.

How did I transform the piece? 

Step one:  Sand, sand, sand.  Then sand some more, especially the formica top. You need to give the primer something to "grab" onto. 

Step two:  Wipe with microfiber cloth or other lint free cloth to remove all the dust created by sanding.

Step three:  Prime.  I used Kilz oil based primer (the smelly version since I was working in the garage).

Step four:  Let it dry, overnight.

Step five:  Tape off the base and the edges of the two layers.  (I painted the flat surfaces in a glossy finish and the sides and legs in a flat finish.) Spray glossy paint, in thin layers, letting dry completely between layers.  Once you have the coverage you like, let dry for at least 24 hours.

Step six:  Mask off glossy surfaces with newspaper and painters tape.  Spray flat paint, in thin layers, letting dry completely between layers.  Once you have the coverage you like, let dry for at least 24 hours.

Step seven:  Remove tape and place in intended location.  In our case, this was our front bedroom.

Here's wishing you luck (and strong forearms for the sanding) on your revamp projects.

Cost of the Project:
$ 7.00 Cost of end table
   5.00 Can Kilz Primer
   2.00 1/2 Can Glossy White Spray Paint
   2.00 1/2 Can Flat White Spray Paint
   2.00 Most of a roll painters tape (you can see in the pic above why I ended up using so much tape)
$18.00 Total Cost

I am linking this project to
the Power of Paint Party. 

The Penny Pinching Party at The Thrifty Home