Monday, May 23, 2016

A Bedskirt That Never Makes You Lift a Mattress

Ugh, that wall color kills me. It'll be changed, but for today we talk bedskirt. Finally, the bed looks like we didn't just move in last night. 
This is what you could see before today when you looked at our bed - the risers we put it on and all the musical instruments and storage containers under there. I believe in using space wisely, people. But I also believe in taking the appearance of my bedroom seriously, because if I don't, it'll be the last priority. And as a mom of little kids, I truly appreciate having a bedroom that fosters peace and rest when I walk in. 

Peace and rest are not what I felt before the bedskirt happened. I can tell you that.  
And since there were no bedskirts AT ALL in the stores when I went looking, and the ones online were all too short for a bed on risers, I had to make this puppy. So I bought a large drop cloth from the home improvement store ($20), some sew-on hook and loop tape (think Velcro), and set to work. 

1: I first got glued the hook (prickly) side of the tape to the upper edge of our box spring all around the sides and foot of the bed (see photo above).

2: Then I measured the length I needed and cut the drop cloth edge to that measurement (using the existing hem LIKE A BOSS). 

3: Finally, I sewed the loop (soft) side of the tape to the skirt with some stylish gathering action. I used the soft side of the tape here because when I wash it I don't want the hook side picking at the fabric while it agitates. Because that would agitate me. 

And then I simply walked around the bed, pressing the hook and loop tape together as I went, to hang the bedskirt. Winning. 
So now, I never have to wrestle a bunch of fabric under the awkward Sleep Number mattress to put the bedskirt back in its place. And it looks so much better than the storage beneath. It might even get washed now.  


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ahoy, Me Hearties

I'm trying really hard not to use infantile humor here. The title very well could have been "Scrubbing the Poop Deck" or "A Place to Ship." But I'm too mature for that. 
So this turned out pretty cool! I made this shelf this morning from 1x8" pine, a couple of hooks, and some 1/4" Manila rope. 
The guest/kids' bath has come a long way from where it started...let's remember, shall we?
This is before we moved in. Woof. 
The edges of shoe molding, countertop, and tub surround have all been neatly caulked, and the walls and trim painted. 
Here's an image from mid-way through painting. Aaaahhh, grey. 
The brass knobs on the vanity are replaced with wooden ones from a dresser downstairs. They help me be okay for now with the white composite and cream counter/sink. 
The drawers have been lined for the sake of the kids' dental hygiene. 
Succulents bring in a bit of life. Even if they're not alive. Because there are no windows in here, and alive would soon be dead. 
The little stump is actually a votive holder a friend made. In case someone stinks it up in here. 
On the opposing wall, we have many hooks for the many children to hang their many towels on. 
An old ship print, a racy iron mermaid, a photo of hubby and I at a friend's pond (our happy place), and a sketch of a cephalopod by yours truly. 
Here's a better shot of the sketch. Don't count the legs. 
Yessir, this room is turning out alright. 
Now all that's to be done is changing the light fixture, tiling the floor, replacing the mirror...
And lengthening that curtain to the floor. To add to the dog's napping experience, of course. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Bathrooms

First, the guest bath. This is the one the kids use. 
So much purple! And then we have a white laminate vanity with brass fittings, crest linoleum floor, and cream counter/sink. We added the towel rack on the right upon move-in (we already had it). 
We have a builder-grade mirror and light, and an older toilet that doesn't flush unless you hold the handle down for the whole flush. When we moved in, that center false drawer face in front of the sink was broken off and there was a broken brass faucet. Both are repaired/replaced, and the drawers are lined. 
The tub had sediment stains and moldy duck-shaped non-slip treads. I removed those yesterday and added a mat (for the kids) that can be removed for cleaning.
This is the tub/floor seam before yesterday's scraping spree. I removed all the beige colored caulk mess from this area and around the toilet. 
So now it looks like this, and only needs a clean, white caulk line. I'd love to replace that cream linoleum floor, but it's on the spreadsheet! Next up: caulk with *white* caulk, paint the walls, replace the mirror, lengthen that shrunken shower curtain, and possibly replace the light and hardware. So far, we spent $3 on the non/slip mat, $25 on the faucet, $5 on the shower curtain liner, and $5 on shower curtain rings.

Now on to the master bathroom!
Hi. Awkward thumbs-up. So this is the master vanity. Again, white laminated particle board builder-grade cabinet, cream counter/sink, builder mirror and light, and brass knobs. So far, we've replaced the old broken brass faucet ($89 + fittings), bought a cushy rug ($25), and lined the dirty drawers ($3). 
Sooo much better. 

Be thankful I didn't include the before. 
So now I'm removing brass towel rods, filling holes, sanding, and generally prepping to paint. Look at all that delicious makeup/grease staining right there. Mmmmm. 
This is the shower/toilet section that can be closed off to the vanity/tub area. The shelf(?) on this wall was gone when we moved in. We've filled holes, added two hooks we already had, replaced the broken light/exhaust fan ($100), replaced the toilet (about $100 with fittings), and added a toilet paper holder ($6). 
This is the view to the right. Obviously there is a need and opportunity for built-in storage here. 
And this is the view to the left. We removed the brass-framed glass door to the shower (see photo at the bottom), as it wouldn't open or close properly, and replaced it with a clearance shower curtain ($7) and bought a rug ($12). Again, beige caulk was used between the shower and floor, so replacing that will be my next project. 
Back in the vanity area, this is the (very beige) tub area. It has jets! Maybe I'll get to use it one day, ha. The kids love it, but the motor is in the closet wall where the baby sleeps. And guess how often I get to take a bath while the baby's awake. Right. Anyway, the brass shower head is confusingly superfluous, as the shower is on the other side of that wall. 
And here's the old toilet and shower door. Just hanging out on the deck. In case we want to entertain guests there.  

Well, that's all for today! See you next time. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

First Week In

Last weekend we moved in. There was help from friends and family, and yummy food gifted to us. We're incredibly thankful! So far, we've tackled lots of small projects, and it feels good to have almost everything out of the old place and so much being addressed here. 

More pictures will come, but for now, enjoy this one of the only finished feeling wall in the whole house. It makes me glad. And not crazed, like I've felt in the past when projects loomed unfinished. It's calm here. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Almost Ready

At this point, a professional cleaning service has spruced up the interior (thank you, Mom!). This is a very big deal for a busy landscape designer in spring and a mother of four young kids, and allows us to concentrate on other things. 
Like doorknobs. All the exterior ones have been replaced. As you can see, there's still a lot of sprucing up to do on the exterior. The siding is white, so the doors shall NOT remain white forever. Must think of a color palette for this house...

The old fridge was moved down to the basement Saturday, thanks to my beefy brother and husband, where it will serve as overflow food storage. I look forward to being able to fit big bags of apples in there from the local orchard. I heard the apples at your grocery store were picked 11 months before you bought them. Eleven months!! 

This is the beautiful new faucet my Jason installed in the kitchen. We found it on Amazon. I love that enameled cast iron sink. 
And here's the new kids'/guest bath faucet he installed. Nothing fancy, but inexpensive at Home Depot and a world of improvement from the old leaky brass one.

 I know this photo should get "worst photo on the internet award," but it's the only one I managed to get before the new carpet went in. You can tell how much moisture was in the house before we put in a dehumidifier! So this was dark hunter green carpet, and it was horribly dirty looking. Hubby said no. 
Here is the new carpet! I'm looking forward to painting the walls. 
Here's the new carpet in the closet. I'm also looking forward to tiling the adjoining bathroom floor. But those are post-move-in projects. 

So now all that remains is to replace two interior doors, and set a date to move! I can't wait to show you the rest of the house. Until next time!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

We Bought a House

Two Friday's ago, we closed on a house in Asheville. It was an amazing deal, a foreclosure, and the location and size were perfect for us. 

It's a brick -- I mean, the shape of it is like a boring shoe box. Cut into a wooded slope, there are 5+ doors but no clear "front door." The upper level has two bedrooms, two baths, a tiny corner kitchen, and an equally small dining/living space the kitchen opens to. Five hundred square feet of carpeted open family room space is located downstairs, as well as a garage. 

I'm excited to rip out the bar downstairs and rework it into a kitchen island. I'm excited to shine the beautiful hickory floors upstairs. I'm looking forward to updating all the builder-grade 90's cabinetry and hardware in as frugal and smart a way as I can find. There has already been a lot of Pinterest-ing, as you can imagine. 

Already Jason has replaced this broken toilet...
with a low cost, efficient one:
See how dirty it is in there? It looks like the baseboards were never dusted. And he found far worse behind the fridge:
And in the fridge?
Woof. So we decided perhaps we didn't need to be consuming ice and water from this unit. We found:
It's being delivered today. Hard to beat that deal! And I've always wanted a French door fridge, since my brother and sister-in-law got theirs. I feel like we're being spoiled with all the amazing deals and gifts and details that are coming with this house. 
Not that kind of gift (note to self: don't just clean out drawers when moving, but also look behind and under them). But really great gifts are being given, like my mom gifting us a professional house cleaning. That is every mother's love language, and she knows it! Having the bathrooms professionally cleaned is a special relief. 

That's about all for now. Many more repairs are in the works, and we hope to be able to move in over the next few weeks. I'll post some prettier photos of the house soon, and try to share our projects as we complete them. Here's to spring and new beginnings!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

3 Steps to Transform Your Space on the Cheap

1. Caulk

Caulk is the most overlooked and inexpensive tool I know of. If you have an old house but the wood is good (not rotten), you will be shocked at what a few tubes of paintable caulk can do. Fill any cracks along baseboards, between trim, on edges of cabinets, and in corners. If you're a DIYer installing built-ins, trim, or cabinetry, you'll need it to finish your project before painting. Below is a cabinet corner before and after caulk.

I like the Alex caulk by DAP at Home Depot or Lowes which is about $3/tube, but use whatever you can find as long as it's paintable and fast-drying. Buy 3 or 4 tubes at a time if you're working on an entire house; you'll make use of it eventually, but it stinks to run out in the middle of a project. I like white more than clear so I can easily see where I put it after it dries (I'm going to paint over it anyway). We've brought some old, nail-hole-filled, cracked, dog-chewed, misaligned trim back to life in houses we've bought, and all with caulk and a coat of paint. Below is a baseboard before and after caulk.

To apply a caulk line like a pro, start with a tube opened with a clean angled cut off the tip, and load it into your caulk gun. Run a sparing line of caulk along a crack/crevice, and use a finger to swipe down the length of it in one smooth motion. If you didn't apply enough, you can always add another line of caulk and repeat. If you apply too much, you'll quickly have a (water soluble) mess on your hands - but nothing soap and water can't clean off your skin and tools. Just wear old painting clothes.  Practice makes perfect!

2. Paint

At around $30 for a bucket of good quality paint, you can completely transform and renew a room. Here's an example of a bathroom completely transformed with paint (and some peel-n-stick floor tiles and curtains).

I usually avoid bright or intense colors in smaller spaces, unless there's wainscoting, and even then, I tend to err on the neutral side because you can always add color through fabrics, furniture, and accessories.  And here's the rule: if you can clearly see it is blue or green or orange on the paint samples rack, it's going to be 10x more blue/green/orange on a wall. I promise.  It will never be more gray on the walls than it is on the paint sample card.

Here's another example of how enormous an effect paint can have on a space. At each step in the process of renovating this kitchen, paint played a big part. I loved that blue...I loved it with the warmth of the wood cabinets.

Choose a color you love, then ask yourself, "Is this a wall color, or an accent color?" Wall colors take more effort to change than accents like upholstery, framed art, or painted wood furniture. And they affect your space with far more ferocity than a smaller item of the same color would.  The blue color in this kitchen made the space feel eclectic, cozy, and artsy. The light gray in the next photo made it feel more light, clean, and probably appealed to a wider audience (which is why we painted it gray when we sold it). 
Once you decide your chosen color belongs on your walls, go 2-3 steps more gray with it. Then take several choices home as paint samples, tape them to your walls in the rooms you mean to paint, and live with them for a few days before deciding. It might be more time than you expected to spend in preparation to paint, but you'll be glad to avoid having to start over. Don't skimp on the brush, unless you're painting something heavily textured like old metal scrollwork. I love my 2" angled tapered Zibra brush, and it's lasted through painting many rooms. It'll cut a line cleaner than any paint tape could give you, with way less trouble. I don't use tape anymore - use a practiced, smooth motion, a quality angled brush, and clean up any overpaint on glass with a razor. Where two colors meet, always paint the darker paint last, as it'll only take one coat to cover any overpaint from the other color. If you're unsure whether you'll be painting over oil or water-based, use the rubbing alcohol and cotton swab method. If it's latex paint, it'll come off on the cotton swab. If you're going to use a water-based paint, which dries faster and has less fumes, you'll need to prime first if the swab is clean (which means oil-based paints were used).

3. Fabric

Fabric adds color, pattern, and texture. It softens and warms a place. One gal who knows this well is The Nester, a.k.a. Myquillyn. Please take a look at her site (click on either photo below too) - it is a wealth of smart decorating knowledge.
Can you believe that's a drafty addition to their barn? Look at that soft, inviting bed and the sheep skin rug.
Can you believe that's inside the barn?? She achieved this cozy look with fabric - curtains, upholstered furniture, bedding, rug, pouf, and pillows.

Fabric can be added as slipcovers, rugs (they're textiles too!), simple drapes, bedding pillows, to the back of bookshelves, to the walls themselves...there are so many ways to add fabric. Layer rugs if you have multiples, like jute under woven, or cow hide over wool (if you are lucky enough to have a cow hide rug). Add a fake fur throw or a sheep skin. Layer bedding with a bedskirt, coverlet or quilt, throw or blanket, and coordinating sheets. Make your bed beckon to you. 

You don't have to overpay to make your space cozy. Some Walmart stores still sell fabric by the yard for around $3, and fabric stores have clearance racks. There's and Yard sale pillows can be recovered, and flat sheets or drop cloths can become curtains. Remember to hang your curtain rods (including shower rods) as close to the ceiling as you can, and as wide as you can, so when they are open you can allow ALL the light in through the window and not cover any of it except the window's trim on the side. This lengthens the space and makes the window seem bigger.

To make simple curtain panels (and some links to tutorials)...

With a flat sheet: snip the seams on the left and right of the thickest hem (usually goes at the top of the bed, where your face and hands are), leaving a tunnel to slide a curtain rod through.  Or use clip-on rings.  The Frugal Homemaker

With fabric by the yard: fold the raw edge twice and iron. Use fusible hem tape and an iron, a hot glue gun, or a sewing machine to secure. Fold one side's hem thick enough to fit a curtain rod through or use clip-on rings. Two Twenty One

With a drop cloth: choose a size appropriate for your window, and use clip-on rings. Alternately, cut a larger drop cloth in half to save money, and finish the raw edge with a seam or hot glue or fusible hem tape. Better Homes and Gardens (several tutorials on this one)