Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yard Schtuff

So yes, there's is still a gigantic pile of cardboard boxes in the basement, ready to be smashed up, closets to be sorted through and attics to be organized. And yes, I still have a bazillion things to do to finish up the bathroom. But for today, I had only one purpose: to remain outside as long as possible.

So after my morning run, I sprinkled some new grass seed in the front yard. Trying to solve my ongoing lawn problem...
The photo is completely gratuitous, as it really shows nothing. But it's funny how the light tints everything yellow this late in the summer time.

I also planted my mums in new pots which you can see on either side of the front staircase.


So I decided while I was in the swing of things (read: in my gym shorts, sweaty and covered in dirt), I might as well turn my efforts to the backyard. I want to be a little more proactive come next spring. And I have been thinking lately of turning an unused little plot just outside my kitchen door into a little herb garden.

Before I took those photos, I ripped up a LOT of really tall weeds. It is like a jungle in the back yard. So things seem to pop up out of nowhere and really take hold.

After the weeds were removed, I was left with a really slanted, uneven area filled with rocks. Yeah! Then came a few hours of pulling out a few small boulders and really old (really large) roots followed by raking and trying to even out the soil. The Yuengling really helped with this.

I decided to be even more ambitious and build a little brick wall around the garden. It won't protect any of the plants from anything, but it does look nice. And it keeps all the dirt contained and tidy.

Ta da!

I'm going to add some fresh topsoil next spring. Then I'll see what I plant. This area gets a few hours of sun in the summer, so I'm thinking basil, lavender, mint. And some other things. Can't wait.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Guest room, Sort of

Someone commented that I never posted a finished picture of the painted headboard! Oops!

I suppose if I had broken out the spray paint, it would have been a quicker project, but the thought of getting into the car, driving to True Value, buying some spray paint, driving back, dragging the headboard to the garage, spraying, waiting, and dragging back upstairs sounded sooo ughhhhhhh. (I know, I'm weird... and lazy). After all, I had a paintbrush, primer, and paint sitting literally feet away from the headboard. So it took me some more time to paint, but here we are...
I thought she came out pretty - now we need to make this a functional guest room (like, with a bed, or something?).

Our intention is to get a new bed for us, and put our current bed in the guest room. But our intentions come with a price tag. I'm going to take the plunge soon since the lack of bed is preventing our near and dear from spending the night and avoiding traffic (Hi mom! Hi Dad!) So it will happen soon, hopefully!

In another corner, we installed this precious little sparkly thing - another Home Goods find:
At first I wasn't sure if it was cheesy or not, but I like it's celestial quality. And we needed mirrors badly! Now I can see my shoes and my head in the mirror at the same time (kind of important!).

So this will probably be my last "guest room" update until we get the bed situated (and curtains, and hang pictures, and install the radiator cover, and...)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dresser Makeover!

I procrastinated like crazy all summer, but FINALLY got around to my dresser project:

And, since I'm in a good mood, I'm going to cut to the chase with the after photo:

And now I'll give you a baby-step by baby-step on how I did that...

The dresser belonged to my uncle when he was growing up. It is a nice piece of furniture, but I have a strong aversion to orange-y colored wood:

Yeah, that is just not going to work anywhere.

So first thing's first - I went over the whole piece with Murphy Oil Soap

Then I unscrewed each drawer-pull, making sure to put all the pieces in a contained area (that is key!)

Next came the tape on the drawers - This step might not be necessary, but it only took a few minutes to put some tape on each side of the drawers. I wanted to avoid gunky, tacky paint from clogging up the works later on.

Once the tape was in place I went over each drawer front with sandpaper. I didn't go crazy with it - just a little bit of light sanding.

As I worked down the front of the dresser, I removed each drawer and lined them up on a drop cloth I had already set up nearby...
It's hard to see, but I also numbered each drawer side in order from top to bottom, just in case thing's got mixed up.

Then I sanded the body of the dresser and taped around the openings...

Now comes the fun part!
I bought a quart of Valspar latex enamel in satin finish. These are the small cans that are already color mixed. FYI I think I used about 1/4 of the can...

I started painting with a roller, but didn't like the texture it left behind. So I whipped out a brand new paintbrush and (this is also key!) followed the grain of the wood.

I did the same to the drawers, then applied a second coat to everything.

At this point, everything was drying. I looked over at the container of hardware. I contemplated going to Anthropologie to rummage through their amazing hardware bins. I counted how many drawer pulls I would need - it was twelve.
Yeah, Anthropologie wasn't happening that day.

I decided now was the time to be industrious! I brought all the hardware down to the kitchen and whipped out my stash of Bar Keepers Friend. I had no idea what would happen, but I figured now was the time to try...

Using a bristle brush I worked at the metal pieces with a paste of BKF and water until they were mostly gold and shiny...

I let everything dry for a few hours, but I then I couldn't wait, as I was getting ready to go out Saturday night, I started putting all the hardware back on, then John helped me move the dresser into place in the guest room...

And just because everyone loves a before-and-after shot, here you go...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Desert Paintings

I'm so excited I can barely type right now!

So, I was just in the middle of a project to refinish an old dresser from my grandmother. As I was removing one of the drawers, I found these two tiny paintings curled up underneath, at the back of the dresser...

It's the kind of thing you hope to find when you tear something apart - be it a piece of furniture, or a wall. (And it WAY beats the old pair of socks I found behind one of the top drawers).

I suspect they are something my Uncle Roy painted back in the day. I'm seeing him this weekend and can't wait to show him!

Filing this under coincidences, cause it's the closest label I can think of...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Attic dreams...

It is my dream to renovate our attic space into something like this. Storage shelves and cabinets built into the side spaces, and white floors, ceilings and walls, to bring in all the sunlight. I would make it into an extra guestroom/tv room/office/studio.

Our attic has a generously-sized staircase leading up to it, and dormer windows on three sides. I know it would be such a sweet room, so much more than a storage space!

Photo courtesy of Country Home via House of Turquoise.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Painting the Roses Bed...

I painted our old headboard white recently. This is the bed that's intended for the guest room:
(excuse the flourescent walls, this is the reason the third bedroom is being used as a dumping grounds/painting room/furniture staging area)

It's a metal headboard from Pottery Barn circa 5 years or so ago. I just dry-brushed primer on, and followed it up with a few coats of semi-gloss white).

Played hooky yesterday and spent the day with my parents and Jeni, shopping for loads of goodies at Home Goods and Lowes. We intended to acquire a rug for the living room, and curtains and a curtain rod for the dining room. Of course we came home with neither, but we did score a pretty awesome mirror for the guest room, as well as the supplies needed (hooks, nails, wire) to start hanging things on the walls.

I also got some paint, sandpaper, and drop cloths for our guest-room dresser renovation. Maybe I will be motivated this weekend to start and finish a project? Or maybe next week, or next weekend, or...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lawn Envy

Photo courtesy of someone... somewhere... (definitely not me!)

Our front yard is quickly deteriorating into a burnt up mess that's been half dug-up by squirrels and birds and half invaded by alien crabgrass. Ironically, the gravel/dirt driveway, which is covered with weeds, is the greenest part of our property. Oh cruel, cruel world - the driveway is mocking our lawn!

I realize now we should have planted a bunch of boxwoods in our flower bed earlier this spring, but I was just too lazy at the time and now our garden consists of mostly old wood chips, and a wilted, leggy hydrangea plant.

I find myself envying my neighbors lawn/driveway/edging job the way I used to envy some cool girl's shoes or haircut on the subway. I fantasize about laying down asphalt, or re-graveling the driveway, I dream about re-seeding the lawn and spraying it with Miracle-Gro. When did I turn into this person?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dark and Moody

I've re-considered the direction of the navy guest bedroom. I originally thought nautical was the way to go.

I do want to keep the navy walls. But I want to make it darker, moodier, and dreamier. I've been contemplating this photo for literally months now:
Elle Decor, March 2010

This was the photo that first made me think of painting the walls navy. And now I come back to it. How great is this room??? If you take away the pink flowers (which are pretty, but realistically I will not be having fresh peonies in the room at all times) we are left with lots of framed black and white images, touches of gold, and white furniture. The tiny touches of lavender - love love love! Also I can't resist that dark lamp shade.

Then I saw this photo yesterday on Bryn's website:
Ahhh! This is what I'm talking about - creamy cushioning, antiqued metals on the walls, white trim. Cozy and dark.

This morning I remembered my stash of magazine tears. Look at this page from Domino circa Nov 2005:
Sorry, this image is so gnarly, but I think the point comes across nicely.

More creamy and white fabrics, the dark black lampshade, the dark black glossy mantle (which could be the finish for the dresser), the iron frame head board, another black/white framed image, and another tiny touch of lavender!

I think I know what I'm doing. Let the shopping begin!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Good Houses: LA style

My sister, Jeni, recently moved into an awesome apartment in Los Angeles. It's kind of Melrose Place style - Early 20th Century stucco building with a courtyard. A pomegranate tree right outside her front door. Yeah, it was pretty hard to leave LA.

Anyway, some followers of the blog (hi Mom!) have been requesting photos of the place and Jeni gave me permission to show her space, so here goes...

Living Room
Only in LA can an aqua couch look totally at home. Sweet

Living room
Jeni took an old pink cabinet, painted it ivory and added legs. Such a cute sideboard!

Reading nook
That's John getting down and dirty with the iPad

Kitchen looking into Reading Nook

Vintage Wedgewood stove. So incredible.


Vintage dresser

All the old fixtures still remain in place.

This home is so charming! All the original architectural details remain in place - the floor to ceiling windows, the arched doorways - all are so sweet! And what's even better Jeni was able to decorate it all on a crazy budget. Most pieces - the mirrors, the dressers and tables and furniture were all incredible bargains from thrift and vintage shops, or hand-me-downs from friends. A lot of the accessories came from places like Ikea, Home Goods, etc. It all came together to make such a cute home. Congrats!

When am I invited back?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Back, Back to Cali, Cali

So, we recently spent a week in and around Los Angeles. It was such a great vacation! We didn't have too much of a schedule. But we did get to explore a lot of Southern California. Here are a few highlights from our trip...

Matador Beach - Malibu
This might be my favorite beach. Ever. John's too.
Also have to add, if you ever take the drive up, you must visit Neptune's Net

Point Dume, Malibu
A hike along the cliffside

View of Zuma Beach from Point Dume

Point Dume, Malibu

Standard Hotel, Downtown LA
Awesome rooftop bar, complete with pool

Standard Hotel, Downtown LA
They have cabanas with water beds!

Elliott Smith Wall, Sunset Blvd
The wall is a memorial to Elliott, covered with lyrics and tagged with graffiti

Drive to Yucca Valley
We were told by everyone that it was a cool day for the desert

Yucca Valley

Yucca Valley - Desert House

Desert House - Rusted Chair

Joshua Tree

The Integratron
If you actually make it out to the desert, it is a must-have experience. Make reservations in advance.
UFOs and crystal bowls.
That's all I'm saying.

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach, view from our hotel

Huntington Beach
It wouldn't be a proper set of photos without a California sunset