5.30.2012

Thirty Before 30 progress

I thought it would be fun to share the progress I've made on my Thirty Before 30 list since I posted it in mid-March:


#1 - This may be the one I'm most proud of, which tells you just how much of a disaster our garage had become! It still gets messy - especially with all the saw-related work we've been doing in there lately - but I consider it a success that we know where things are and can actually reach them :)

#19 - I joined Heather and Carol's blogger book club and participated in the first book review at the end of April. And I recently finished the second book, which Carol will be reviewing on her blog next week. One of the reasons I wanted to join  a book club was to get back into reading for pleasure and I'm happy to say that's exactly what's happened (plus, it's always interesting to hear what other people think of a book you've just read). It even prompted me to finally get a library card (I'm currently reading Bernhard Schlink's The Reader) and I'm looking forward to starting the next book club selection after Carol's review.

#11 - The ceilings in all three upstairs bedrooms drove me crazy. The former owners went gaga for ceiling hooks, so there were holes, hooks (including a large, red one directly above my side of the bed) and just your general marks on the ceilings in all three rooms. Adam patched and painted each one before we installed new flooring and it's amazing how much it freshens things up!

#5 - We finished the closet in the nursery last week (there was a hole in the original floor that we needed to repair before we could install new stuff), which means the hardwood floors in all three bedrooms are officially done! We still need to tackle the hallway, but we're waiting to reno the stairs first (a definite post-baby project). The plan is to replace part of the stairs and widen a doorway, which will make the upstairs hallway visible from downstairs. In other words, it's more important for the flooring in the hallway to match the flooring downstairs (which we also plan to replace) than in the bedrooms (though obviously we want it to all be cohesive).

Fingers crossed, #9 and #22 should happen in a couple of weeks, and I'm making progress on #8, #14 and #26 (and technically #15, too). I'm doing pretty well with #12, but I definitely need to revisit #20 and #4 (this has been a lifelong battle, especially because I've yet to be punished for my laziness with cavities, knock on wood). And I can't wait to tackle #18 when the weather warms up - I already have a colour in mind :)

5.29.2012

What do you think of knock offs?

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend - especially if it was a long one! I'm logging more hours than usual at my day job this week (and it's only Tuesday!), but I wanted to share a couple of purchases I made for the nursery over the weekend.


I can't wait to show you the vintage globe I found - it's so cute!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to purchase an Eames-style rocker rather than the real thing. For me, it was a matter of cost, since my husband and I don't see eye-to-eye on the value of style (he's more of a function kind of guy).

Almost immediately after placing my order, I came across this article about the real cost of replicas. My husband is a musician, so we understand first-hand the importance of paying for original, authentic work, whether it be music, art, literature or furnishings. I agree that authentic designs are investment pieces, and if I'm prepared to spend $500 on an iPad, why wouldn't I spend $500 on a chair that will last much, much longer?

But let's be honest, I don't actually have $1,000 to spend on an iPad and a chair (at least not $1,000 that wouldn't arguably be better spent in a variety of other ways), and I'm not sure that I want or need all my furniture to last for generations. The article calls it a "disposable attitude", but I'd argue that people's tastes and needs also change over time. Knock offs and replicas are one way to enjoy an athestic without committing to it for the longhaul. Is that always a bad thing?

And, is buying a knock-off Eames (the original designers passed away decades ago) the same thing as buying a replica of a piece designed by someone who's still in business? I have a feeling I don't know enough about how the design industry works to answer this question and my experience with small business tells me that people's perceptions are often very different from reality (in other words, just because a business sells an expensive product, it doesn't mean the business owner is swimming in profits).

I can argue in circles with myself on the issue, but I think what really rubbed me the wrong way about this article was the message that if you can't afford the original, you should go without (they advocate buying original designs in your price range instead). Which implies that some styles and asthetics should only be enjoyed by certain economic classes. Regardless of whether you'd prefer an original, knock offs and replicas make high style accessible. Could it be that's exactly what some people don't like about them?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the issue. Where do you stand on the knock off debate?

5.25.2012

Trim it out

Thanks for all your answers to my empty frame question - it's nice to know I'm not alone! I actually ordered a few photos yesterday, so those frames won't be empty for long.

To close out the week, I thought I'd share one more project from our master bedroom. Remember the bedside tables I bought at a yard sale last year?

{before}
I painted them and replaced the hardware and they lived in our bedroom like this until last week.

{painted with new hardware}
I had always planned to "finish" the nightstands by trimming out the bottom, but never got around to it. So when we ripped our bedroom apart to install the new flooring and baseboard, it seemed like the perfect time to tackle the nightstands too (what's one more project, right?).

The "gap" I wanted to cover was about 2" high. Unfortunately I couldn't find any matching trim, so we bought a piece of chair rail and trimmed off the excess (about 1/8") with our table saw. Then we used our miter saw to cut three pieces to length (two pieces for the sides and one for the front), making angled cuts for the corners. I used finish nails to attach the pieces to the nightstand, then caulked the seams and painted everything to finish it off. 

{with new trim}

{don't mind the gap: old house = uneven floors}

MUCH better, no? While I'm loving the new trim, I'm thinking about switching up the hardware. I spotted some ceramic knobs in a gorgeous coral colour that I can't stop thinking about, so I'm not calling this an "after" yet.

I hope everyone has a great weekend - and a great Memorial Day Weekend if you're in the US!

5.23.2012

Would you hang an empty frame?

Thank you so much for all your sweet comments about our master bedroom yesterday!

I couldn't resist making a few tweaks to the room last night - the empty wall above my bedside table was driving me crazy and I have a pile of picture frames in the nursery that I need to deal with before we can install baseboard in there. So I picked out a few frames, cut templates out of some old flyers and played around with the arrangement until I found something I liked.


After spraypainting all three frames black, up they went.

{step 1: hang the frames, step 2: fill them}
The round frame has some really pretty raised texture that I meant to capture in a close-up - oops. I'm also planning to add another, smaller silver frame to the bedside table. When I asked Adam what he thought, he said the round frame looked weird (apparently he didn't notice the frame below it was also empty). I explained that both frames will eventually have photos in them and he seemed happy enough. I already have a few photos in mind, and I'm hoping the empty frames on the wall will be the kick in the butt I need to actually have them printed.

Have you put up an empty frame before, or do you wait until you have something to fill it with?

5.22.2012

Master bedroom update

I hope all my Canadian readers had a great long weekend! We couldn't have asked for better weather here (any Maritimer will tell you that four solid days of sunshine and hot weather in May is a pretty special treat) and we took full advantage, getting in some yard work (we even picked up a couple of new shrubs yesterday), plenty of walks with the dog, and a daily dose of ice cream (my one, constant pregnancy craving so far).

Unfortunately we had to spend some time indoors; on Sunday we installed baseboard and quarter round in our master bedroom and yesterday I painted the new trim and we put our bedroom back together. Before I get to the progress pics, let's take a moment to remember what the room looked like when we first moved in:



Believe it or not, the camera is being overly kind here - this room was all textured walls, beaten up trim and gross carpet. We painstakingly removed the texture, painted the walls, windows, trim and ceiling, refurbished the closet doors (which we found in the garage) with paint and new glass knobs, bought a new, solid pine door that we stained and fitted with an ORB doorknob, ripped up the carpet and installed new hardwood, and installed new baseboard and plinth blocks (check out the bottoms of the door frames).

There are still lots of decorating changes I'd like to make - more art on the walls, bringing in new/different accessories, new bedding, maybe adding a headboard? - but let's get to the photos shall we?








5.18.2012

Weekend plans


  1. Our front garden, starting to take shape
  2. One of the rhodos we planted last year in bloom
  3. Purple tulips from the farmers' market, soon to be replaced with fresh blooms from our yard?

After a bit of a break last weekend, Adam and I plan to knock a few projects off our to-do-before-baby list this weekend (I much prefer working from this list, it being substantially shorter than our to-do-in-general list). Like installing baseboard and quarter round in the master bedroom (which hopefully means I'll have some before & almost-after photos to share with you next week) and a little DIY upgrade for our nightstands (more on that next week).

We're also planning to tackle some outdoor work (hence the photos), like getting our raised garden beds ready for planting and some less fun weeding and mulching (maybe we'll end up with a new plant or two, too). Luckily the weather is supposed to be perfect for working outdoors (fingers crossed, knock on wood).

What are your plans for the weekend? Will you be working indoors or out? Or maybe your plans involve some well-deserved relaxation?

5.15.2012

DIY message center

{DIY message center}
Although we've been living in our house for a little over a year, we still hadn't found a permanent home for our phone. For the last few months it's actually been hanging out on the floor next to the couch, which both kept it out of sight and kept us from regularly checking our messages (if I haven't called you back, now you know why). And when did need to take a message or make a note, there wasn't a pen or a scrap of paper to be found.

So when I spotted this wooden display case (at least that's what I think it is) at my local Value Village, I knew I wanted to turn it into a mini message center.


These frame hangers (there was one in each of the top corners) are what made me think it was some kind of display case. I just unscrewed them and voila - instant tray.



After some light sanding and a quick wash, I took it outdoors for a coat of spray primer.


While I was out there, I also sprayed a coat of primer on an empty tin can I'd been meaning to turn into a pen/pencil holder. Once the primer was dry (and after driving to Adam's parents' house to celebrate Mother's Day), I applied three or four light coats of spraypaint, allowing 20-30 minutes of drying time between coats (Adam's parents are well aware of my DIY-obsessed ways and didn't blink an eye when I started unpacking my supplies in their backyard).

In my experience, a good paint job is all about patience (needless to say it's a struggle for me everytime). Light coats are the way to go, even if it means 5 instead of 2, and make sure you give your paint enough time to dry between coats (obviously follow the instructions on the can, but as a general rule I'd say longer = better).

{I used Rust-Oleum's gloss white on my pen/pencil holder}

{and satin aqua on my tray}
The blue is the same colour (they call it aqua, I think of it as Tiffany Blue) I'm planning to use on the babe's crib, so it was also a chance to make sure I like the colour (I do). Several pens and a few pads of paper later, and my message center was complete.

{DIY message center}

{it turns out that tin cans make great pen holders}
No more running around the house to find a pen and something to write on, and no more missed messages!

Have you spraypainted anything lately?

5.14.2012

DIY vintage baby blanket


Like many of you (I assume, I hope), I 'pin' projects and other DIY inspiration to my Pinterest boards with the best of intentions, only to forget about them later. This time I even bought some of the necessary supplies, then let them sit in a bag next to my dining room table for a couple of months. Oops.

I first spotted the idea HERE and immediately knew I wanted to DIY my own version - I just needed to find the perfect vintage floral fabric. Weeks Months went by until I found it: a floral bedsheet from Value Village. Then, over the weekend, I bought a yellow, polka dot fabric and finally made my own vintage baby blanket.





The steps are pretty easy (Andrea's tutorial includes some great step-by-step photos if you need more detail):
  1. Cut your fabric and batting to your desired size (most tutorials I read recommended a 45" or 1 1/4-yard square).
  2. Place one layer of your fabric on top of your batting (right-side facing out), fold over the edges and pin to create a 1/2-inch seam. I found it helpful to then iron the edges to define my seam.
  3. Place your second layer of fabric on top of the batting (again, right-side facing out), fold under your edges and pin around all four sides.
  4. Now that you've basically got your blanket, open each side, layer in your trim and re-pin. Then run all four sides through the sewing machine, stitching as close to the edges as possible.
  5. Finally, mark the spots for your yarn ties - mine are all 4.5" apart - with pins, thread your yarn through each pin mark, cut and knot. Check out this tutorial for the very easy how-to.

And that's it! I have a few friends who either recently had babies or are expecting, and I think this would make a great handmade gift.

A big thanks to Andrea at Strawberry Chic for the inspiration!

Linked up here

5.11.2012

No-sew ribbon trim

Thanks for all your sweet comments about our nursery plans - and for your changing table suggestions! There's so much conflicting information out there about what to buy that it can feel totally overwhelming, so I really appreciate hearing from you about what worked for your family :)

After Danielle posted this gorgegous home tour on her blog yesterday, I was immediately inspired by the black trim detail on the sofa:

spotted here
What an easy way to add some interest to my newly-slipcovered ottoman...

{before, this boring white slipcover needed some dressing up}
So I bought a roll of black grosgrain ribbon and broke out my trusty glue gun...

{after, with a little more oomph}


For the top, I simply folded the ribbon over at each corner and secured it with a small dab of glue. Since my slipcover had rounded corners, this approach worked best for me, but there are lots of other ways you could do it.


And just for fun, here's a little side-by-side comparison:


So, do you have any projects planned for the weekend? A huge Happy Mother's Day to all the mommas out there - enjoy your special day!

Linked up to

5.09.2012

Nursery plans

Now that the new floors are in, I can finally start decorating the nursery! I've been collecting a few things here and there, and pinning away of course, but last night I put together my first moodboard for the room (while I love storing inspiration and ideas on Pinterest, moodboards help me visualize the final space and give me something to work from - and stay focused on - as the room comes together).

I was inspired by both of these seriously gorgeous nurseries and I want to create a similarly bright, cheery, simple and fun design for my room.

via

via HGTV.ca
Oh, and since we've decided to be surprised by the gender, the room has to be suitable for a boy or a girl. Here's the plan so far...


1 - I made these curtains a couple years ago (using Sandi Henderson's Spring Petal Party fabric) and I'd love to use them in the nursery. The only problem is that they're a wee bit short if I want to hang them a few inches from the ceiling (I do). I'm thinking about adding solid green panels to the bottom, but I may end up making entirely new curtains from a different green fabric.

2 - It's a small room and I definitely want to incorporate some open shelving for storage. I'd also like to bring in some texture with baskets for hidden storage.

3 - My DIY bunting flag art will definitely be incorporated into the room. Right now I'm thinking about hanging them over the crib.

4 - We purchased a crib and mattress a while ago and now I'm researching a safe way to paint the crib a bright aqua or tiffany blue.

5 - I also already purchased this Serena & Lily crib sheet when it was on sale a while back. I love the reddish-orange colour and pattern, and I think it will look great against the aqua crib.

6 - This is the RENS Sheepskin from Ikea, but I'd like to get the real thing from the Lismore Sheep Farm here in Nova Scotia (as vegetarians, Adam and I are still struggling with whether this is a purchase we feel comfortable making or not, so a trip to the farm is probably in order before we make our decision).

7 - I wish I could say I'll be getting the real thing, but there's absolutely no way I could convince Adam to drop that kind of money on a chair. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for an afforable reproduction that ships to Canada.

8 - I know I'm behind the trend on the stick-on wall art, but I've always wanted to try it and a nursery seemed like the perfect place. I bought the Animals Alphabet a few weeks ago and I like that it's cute and colourful without being too over-the-top.

9 - I also bought this Giraffes print on etsy. The colours are perfect for the room and I've been weirdly obsessed with giraffes lately...

10 - I couldn't find a picture of Chapters' yellow Giraffe bookend (which I already bought), so I included the lion. Consider this a public declaration that I won't purchase any other giraffe-related items for the room :)

11 - A hand-me-down dresser from Adam's parents that I painted pistachio green and definitely want to use in the room. It's too high to double as a changing table, so I'm still trying to decide whether to buy a changing table, try building one into the closet or forgo one altogether. Any advice?

5.07.2012

DIY Hardwood Flooring: The Saga Continues

{master bedroom, now with 100% more hardwood}
Adam and I spent our third weekend in a row installing hardwood flooring, this time in our master bedroom (in case you missed it, you can read about our flooring adventures in the nursery here and in the future guest bedroom - where it all started - here). Of all three bedrooms, this one is by far the largest and by Sunday night we were both totally, completely exhausted. Like, didn't even have the energy to put our bed back in the room exhausted.

The good news is that we're thisclose to being finished with the whole hardwood saga. We have three tiny closets to go and we set up and tested our new table saw last night so we can make those final, lengthwise cuts to finish each room (by the way, we're both practically giddy about owning a table saw and all the DIY projects we'll be able to take on - woo hoo!).

Of course, once the flooring is finished it means it's time to buy, measure, cut, install and paint new baseboard and quarter round, but I'm trying not to think about that right now :)

How did you spend your weekend?

5.02.2012

Extending your coffee table

If you've seen recent pictures of our living room, you may have noticed that our coffee table is a little small for the new layout. I knew the $10 ottoman I picked up at a thrift store ages ago would be the perfect coffee table extender - it just needed a new slipcover. Luckily I had lots of fabric leftover from my DIY chair slipcover, so last week I broke out my sewing machine and whipped up this guy.



A couple of books add some colour to an otherwise plain piece and I like how it does double-duty as a footstool or a surface to rest your snack/drink/whatever.



Now if I could just find the perfect area rug...
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