Painted cabinet before and after

This cabinet is a hand-me-down from the future in-laws (it's an old hospital bedside table) and it's an indispensible piece of extra storage (we currently stash all of our photo albums inside). Here it is in the living room of our old apartment, where the bright red colour totally worked:

And here it is in our new house, after a DIY paint job:

The red was too much for our new space, and it looked terrible against the big green sideboard we converted into a TV stand (which sits nearby). So last weekend I rolled on a coat of furniture primer, and covered it with two coats of Sico melamine cabinet paint in "Hint of Grey" (it's the same colour we're planning to use on our kitchen cabinets, so consider this a little preview).

Initially I painted the hardware - which was already covered in rust and old paint - with the same hint of grey, but when I was finished the whole thing was just too...white. Since I wanted to keep the original hardware - 1) because it adds character to the piece and 2) because I wasn't sure I'd actually be able to remove it - I decided to hand-paint the hardware black, using a small craft brush and a bit of acrylic paint.

Not bad, eh? The cabinet now lives near our entryway, so it's also a convenient place to drop mail, keys, etc. To keep it organized, I picked up this simple metal basket for $11 at Winner's.

I'm thinking about putting a tall, leafy green plant between the cabinet and fireplace for an added pop of colour, but for now I'm just loving this old cabinet's new look.

Update: Here it is with plant in place. Even better!


Silver-leafed picture frame

My mom came to visit this weekend, and I realized we don't own any facecloths (she brought her own). Luckily I found a set of nine facecloths - in our bathroom colours - on clearance at Winners for $6. Here they are within easy reach of our future guests, on the shelf next to our bathroom vanity:

That silver picture frame was another weekend project. On Sunday morning, it looked like this:

I had some leftover materials from my first gilding project, so I decided to give this old frame a facelift. The steps were pretty easy: I applied liquid gilding paste with a paint brush and left it to dry for 15 minutes while I washed some dishes. Then, one by one, I placed sheets of silver leaf onto the frame and gently pressed them down with my fingertips. Finally, I used a soft brush to remove any loose pieces.

Who knows, I may even stick a picture in there.


Installing trimmable blinds

I picked up some trimmable faux wood blinds over the weekend and after hours (and hours) of measuring, cutting and hanging, finally...we have some privacy!

Here they are open...

and closed.



Yeah, I've been playing this game all weekend haha. I love the new blinds (hence all the opening and closing), but man they were a lot of work! First I had to measure the windows and calculate how much to trim off each side of the blinds. Next, I measured and marked the blinds, and trimmed each slat individually with a pair of heavy-duty scissors. Finally, I removed the extra slats, installed the centre brackets and wall mounts, hung the blinds and installed the valances (with lots of measuring and re-measuring in between). The entire process took hours, but it was worth it. The blinds look like they were made for our oddly-sized windows and I have to admit I'm pretty proud of my handiwork.


Painted bathroom vanity

This is the mood board I put together for our bathroom, what feels like ages ago. Of course a few things have changed since then. I purchased this super cute - but still functional - Dash & Albert rug:

I cleaned-up, painted and organized the large built-in shelves behind the bathroom door:

I also painted the oak vanity and replaced the hardware. I chose Sico melamine cabinet paint in pale grey, which actually has a green-grey hue.

As you can see in my mood board, I was planning to use oil-rubbed bronze knobs - until I realized what a big job it would be to fill in the holes left by the old cabinet pulls and drill new ones for knobs. Luckily I stumbled across these oil-rubbed bronze pulls at Home Depot and immediately fell in love.
Unforunately I'm not in love with how they look against the sink faucet I picked out, so I'll be returning it for a blackened/bronze version. We're still waiting for our new vanity top to arrive - which we scored for an incredible deal because of a small, barely visible chip on the inside edge of the drain hole - and I can't wait to install it (and by "I", I mean Adam and his father haha).

In the meantime, I also painted the small built-in shelves next to the vanity in the same green-grey colour (obviously I'm still working on populating it with our things):

I love these cute little jars I found at Value Village for just 70 cents each.

As you can see, there's still lots to do, but we're getting there, bit by bit. I'm still trying to figure out a colour for the walls, so don't hestiate to leave your suggestions in the comments!

Gallery wall update

Remember that gallery wall I so painstakingly planned? Well here's what it looks like now:

(That big hole in the upper right-hand corner is for the new print I ordered from The Working Proof, and I have a couple of small frames set aside - you can see them on top of the soon-to-be-painted stereo cabinet - for family photos. I also created some large gaps between frames to hang small, interesting objects in the future - though I have no idea what these small, interesting objects will be).

I decided I wasn't loving the arrangement, so I took down a few frames, added a few others, cut some new mats and moved some of the pictures around to better balance the colours in the art. Which means 1) I still haven't started painting the kitchen like I planned to, and 2) there are a lot of extra nail holes hiding behind those frames. The good news is that I'm much happier with the wall now - nail holes and all.


Creating a gallery wall

I love gallery walls and I've wanted to try one for awhile - something dramatic like one of these. The layout of our open concept living room/dining room gives the illusion of a big, empty wall behind the couch (we've actually got a large vintage stereo cabinet hidden back there) and it seemed like the perfect location for a gallery wall.

So, I gathered up some of our favourite pictures, paintings and prints to make paper templates, which I then arranged on the wall using painter's tape. After lots of arranging and rearranging, here's what I ended up with (you can just see the top of our stereo cabinet in this picture - it got a little beaten up during the move, so one of my future projects will be painting it):

Following John and Sherry's advice from their hallway photo project, I measured the distance from each frame's edge to its hanging device (wire, hook, etc.) and marked an 'x' on the corresponding paper template. I hammered a nail into each 'x', tore down the paper template, and hung my frames.

It's an ongoing project, which means I'll be adding frames as I go (and probably switching out some of the pictures up there now). I'd definitely like to see some more family photos up there, and I'd like to add a few silver frames to mix things up. I'm also planning to replace the off-white and grey mats with white ones (luckily there are only a few that need to be replaced).

If you're thinking about building your own gallery wall, The Working Proof is an awesome place to purchase affordable art. As an added bonus, 15% of the sale of each print is donated to a charity chosen by the artist. How cool is that?!

And, until the end of the month, 100% of the sale of the gorgeous print below will be donated to Medecins Sans Frontieres to support their relief efforts in Japan. I just ordered mine and I can't wait to see it on my gallery wall!

Birds in the Bush, by Susan Schwake


New paint in the living room/dining room

When we first moved in, we knew we had a lot of painting to do. We decided to start in the living room/dining room, since that's where we envision ourselves spending most of our time. While I tackled the huge chimney,  the future husband painted the ceiling, trim and walls (yup, I got off a little easy on this one).

For the trim, we used Sico semi-gloss paint in "cotton rag paper". And continuing the crazy paint name trend, we chose "clouds of volcanic ashes" for the walls (this time, in an eggshell finish). In the store it was a pale gray colour, but in our house it has more of a pale blue hue (which we love).

To add to the light and bright look we're going for, I picked up some sheer curtain panels at still-Zellers-but-soon-to-be-Target over the weekend - for just $8.97 each. I hung them about two inches from the ceiling to maximize the room's height. We're planning to add blinds for privacy (as much as we love our neighbours, they probably don't need to know what we're eating for dinner or watching on TV), but since our old windows are anything but standard, we're still figuring that part out.

Here are a few shots of what we started with (just to refresh your memory) and what it looks like now:

After seeing this picture, I decided to turn the wall behind the couch into a "gallery" wall - like one of these. Which means it's currently covered in paper templates, but more on that later. 

That's our cat, Henro (it's short for Henry Rollins and he lives up to his namesake - I have the scratches to prove it) watching a little Planet Earth. We're in the market for a new living room rug, since it turns out white shag rugs and pets are a horrible combination. Right now I'm picturing an 8' x 10' jute or seagrass rug, but we'll see.

Here's that second-hand table I transformed with a little paint - I love how it works in the new space!

Not bad for the first week, eh? The future husband is away on tour with his band this week, and I've vowed to start work on the kitchen in his absence. Those lime green walls really stand out next to our light and bright living room...


Painted fireplace

One of the most dramatic transformations we've made since we moved into our new house is the chimney/fireplace, which started out as a giant, red monolith in our living room. We decided to paint it white, hoping it would make the room feel lighter, brighter and just a little bit bigger.

So as soon as our lawyer handed us the keys, I removed the fireplace grate, snapped on a pair of rubber gloves, and scrubbed those bricks with a mixture of TSP (trisodium phosphate - a strong cleaner) and water. Using a roller, I covered the surface of the bricks with Sico semi-gloss paint in "cotton rag paper" (paint colours have the strangest names). That was the easy part. The cracks on the other hand...I painted with a small brush. One by one.

It took forever. And luckily, it was well worth it:

It took around three coats and three-quarters of a gallon of paint to cover three sides of the chimney (we left the exposed side in the kitchen untouched). I painted the cracks only once, because I was sure doing it more than once would have driven me into insanity.

I love the way it turned out - the room definitely feels lighter and brighter, and the texture of the bricks still shows through the paint, which I also love. Now I just have to figure out how to decorate that mantle...


Organized bathroom shelves

During our first visit to our future house, I was thrilled to discover this large built-in behind the bathroom door. Unfortunately, the shelves were dirty, worn and covered in nail holes. Not somewhere you want to store your things. And without a place to store our things, getting ready for work in the morning was total chaos (trying to navigate the boxes marked 'bathroom' littering our narrow hallway didn't help).

So earlier this week I filled the cracks and nail holes, and rolled on a fresh coat of white paint.

The large basket on the bottom shelf (which we already owned) holds sheets and other bedding, while a second large basket hides all the things we don't use everyday but still need to have on hand, like extra toothpaste, soap, sunscreen, medicine, etc. The future husband and I each have a smaller basket to store things we do use everyday, like make-up (me not him), deodorant, contact stuff, etc. I picked up all three light gray baskets at Walmart for $18. I love how they keep our stuff organized and out of sight, but still accessible.

I also picked up a couple of over-the-door towel hooks at a dollar store for $1.25 each. Finally, a place to hang our bath towels. We still need to get rid of that oak hand towel holder, replace the door and add some colour to the walls, but at least the boxes are out of the hallway and we can find - and use - our things!


A housewarming gift (to myself)

With all the excitement of buying our first house, I decided to buy myself a housewarming gift. Nothing major, just a small token of congratulations from myself to myself. And that's when I found this 2' x 3' Dash & Albert rug on CSN Stores for $30. It was love at first sight.

It arrived on Monday and I've already found a home for it in our bathroom. I can't wait to see it against the pale gray paint colour I've chosen for our vanity, but more on that later.


The Floorplan

Now that we're mostly moved in, I thought I'd give you an idea of what we're working with. I created this floor plan for free at floorplanner.com - the measurements are approximate, but here it is:

We've been living in a two bedroom apartment for the past year and a half, so our new home's small size (just over 1,200 sq. ft.) is perfect for where we're at right now: it gives us some room to grow, but not so much that we're overwhelmed by the adjustment from apartment living.

I especially like the open layout of the kitchen/dining room/living room - in our apartment, the living room was separated from the kitchen and dining room by a long hallway, which meant that when we had guests over we "entertained" while cramped into our tiny kitchen with nowhere to sit.

I also like that the bedrooms are separated from the main living area by a short flight of stairs. Since Adam and I have nearly opposite schedules - a musician, he works in the evening and I'm a 9 to 5'er - it means I can go to bed at a reasonable hour and he doesn't have to worry about tiptoeing around.

Of course there are a few things I don't like about our new digs, and we're thinking about:

  • Converting the garage into a half bath and an office/den.
  • Completely gutting the kitchen and bringing in new flooring, appliances, cabinets and countertops. We also want to close off that exterior door, tear down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, and replace the dining room window with a patio door.
  • Installing a fireplace insert in the living room.
  • Moving the washer and dryer from their current location in the furnace room to the unfinished "den", which we'll convert into a laundry and storage room.
  • Finishing the basement rec room.

We won't take on any of these projects until we've lived in our house for awhile and have figured out how we really want to use the space. In the meantime, we've got plenty of work to do - like painting, putting down new flooring, installing energy-efficient windows, replacing the trim and interior doors, upgrading light fixtures, and landscaping our large yard. Whew, I get tired just thinking about it!
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