Monday, December 28, 2009

So excited!

About my newest purchase. I've been googling like a mad woman, trying to find something interesting for the huge, blank, kitchen wall.

Oof. That's a lot of space.

So what started my google frenzy? This gorgeous clock from etsy seller faire houre.

But at $41 (and now sold out), it was too rich for my blood. Or maybe not, but I wanted to make sure I was getting a great deal. So I started searching for plate clocks, which led me here.

Hey, I can do that!

So I started searching for a plate I wanted to use. I checked all the usual suspects, but was feeling uninspired. I almost broke down and bought this plate from Lenox.

Beautiful, right? But it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. I wanted more whimsy, and I wasn't totally sure about the colors. I was really loving the black and white in my original find.

I remembered a plate I've seen with birds on a power line, but unfortunately, I never found it. But I did find a picture of this platter at Kitchen and Tabletop.

Which led me to my new favorite shopping site, Fishs Eddy.

Go ahead and click. Enjoy the modern, whimsical, eye candy. And THE PRICES!

Most of the plates I was finding that were even close to what I had in mind were $50 and up. But this place has prices that seem, gasp, reasonable!

Like this glass for $4.13

Or these adorable jumbo mugs (they hold 18 oz!) for just $9 each.

But these weren't what got me inspired. I fell in love with their dinnerware patterns. Most of them were white with black designs, and a few had brilliant pops of color. But what I loved most were the whimsical designs on such classic shapes.

I started thinking, wouldn't those look so great mixed up in a collage on the wall? And suddenly my mind was racing! So I used some of my Christmas money to pick up some plates and platters, and I'll mix a couple of our cast iron pieces to bring in a little more black.

I got a couple of small trays from the Alice in Wonderland collection, a plate from the 212 Skyline collection that will become our clock, some platters from the Jordan's Sketchbook collection, and brought in color with the Polka Dot collection and the Pedestrian collection.

Now I'm looking for plate hangers and trying to decide what style of clock kit I need. I just can't wait for them to get here!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Back to Work

And I got ALMOST everything that I planned done. Almost.

The touching up is done. And I'm so happy to have washed my painting clothes. I also touched up the porch (two months late) and cleaned up the excess screening a bit. Then I got frustrated and went out for a little retail therapy. I had to return a light to Lowe's and pick up a few things, and grocery shop at Target. I left Target with not only groceries, but some new white flour sack towels and bar mops, plus an iron organizer. I also had some store credit at Bed Bath and Beyond burning a hole in my wallet, so I headed over to see what I could find.

I've had my eye on a set of magnetic spice jars for a while now, so I planned to get a set of those and a magnetic strip. But I found that the ones at BBB were $3 per tin. Plus $17 for the magnetic strip!

I've seen similar jars at World Market for $1 each, so I passed on those. I figure I can save myself the $2 a piece and put the magnet on myself!

But since I still had that store credit, I took a trip around the store to see what I found. I was so excited to see this kitchen towel holder (my new drawer pulls don't hold a kitchen towel like my old ones did), and picked up a couple of sets of kitchen towels and a cute Christmas ornament on clearance.

But when I got home, I was NOT happy with the colors of the towels. The taupe and green, which were so pretty in the store, looked drab and sad in the kitchen. So after a few minutes spent cleaning, I set out again. I finally found ONE set of kitchen towels I liked at Stein Mart, but I will definitely be keeping an eye out.

After I got home and made a real dinner for the first time in over a week (mmm, spaghetti!) we decided it was the perfect time to work on the outlets. At 7:00. A week after the shortest day of the year. Yeah.

But we got it done, trading off the good flashlight and my phone. I thought we would never get that last outlet in. But we now have bright, white, beautiful, right side up outlets and switches in not one, but THREE rooms of the house!

The one thing we didn't get done? The crown molding. But next week is another three day weekend, so we'll get it done. Maybe I'll even convince Brett to put crown molding in the laundry room!

But let's look at what about one week of work and about $1000 gave us (the majority of that going to the counter tops).

We went from an island paradise:

To a bright, white, neutral delight:

One Day More

Today is the last day of my "vacation" and unfortunately, I've got a list about a mile long.

I am still on schedule, I think. so I should be able to have a totally new kitchen (minus backsplash) when I go to bed tonight.

Yesterday, I painted all the trim and doors. Unfortunately, the tape we used was less than great, which means lots of touching up. And speaking of touching up, these little orange squares have become my archest of enemies.

I swear they're multiplying on their own. We used tiny post its to mark spots that need to be touched up, which is good especially for a lighter color (the spots don't really stand out). But it can be disheartening when you see all. those. little. squares while you're bleary eyed and making your cereal.

On top of the touching up, I've got to touch up the porch, reinstall the crown molding and paint it, change out the switches and outlets (except the ones on the backsplash, those will wait until after tile is put up) and clean the heck out of it. Not TOO bad for a day's work.

Yesterday I found the time to do a little shopping, and I hit Target's after Christmas sale. I came home with a few surprised for Brett.

The tree has pinecones in it! and cashmere tips (whatever that means). I would really love to open it right now and look at it but I'm not quite that crazy. Quite.

I also picked up a couple of packs of ornaments, that I think will go better with our new rustic tree. I love the bronze one, and I got the red to work in the red and silver balls we already have.

Our last (actually first of the day) project yesterday was the light above the sink. When we took down the light, the outlet box was barely attached. So we picked up a new "old work" outlet box and set to work. Once the outlet box was in place, we put in our new light.

I'll be honest, this fixture doesn't give off a ton of light. We bought another one for the laundry room and I'm taking it back for something little brighter. But for above the sink, it's just perfect.

Now off to get into my painting clothes, the long day begins!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Oh By Golly!

We're having a holly jolly kind of Christmas this year!

I'll be totally honest. We opened our presents a few days ago. We're hopeless when it comes to waiting for anything. I got Brett a ratcheting screwdriver set, a new wallet, some t-shirts, sock, and undies, and some little odds and ends. I also got a nice miter saw, but that's really for both of us. He wasn't supposed to get me anything because I already got my gift in the form of a kitchen sink and faucet, but he surprised me with a Zagg invisibleSHIELD for my iPhone, and Planet Earth on Bluray. Best. Husband. Ever.

From our parents and other family, we got a great card game called Dominion (which we're playing tonight!), gift cards to Sherwin Williams and Lowe's, an adorable owl cookie jar (plus several other owls to add to my collection), another pair of Tom's shoes, some really nice cologne, and some small Le Creuset pieces. We're also the proud owners of two Snuggies and we have plenty of cold, hard cash on hand to finish our kitchen makeover.

But just because we got our gifts early doesn't mean we're having any less of a wonderful day.

We started the day by turning on the heater and taking a trip to Waffle House for breakfast. After a delicious bacony breakfast and a big tip for the waitress, we came home and set to work on the kitchen.

We're not doing anything dirty or difficult today. Before we go there, we need to make another trip to the hardware store. But our house is finally liveable, and our kitchen workable again!

We started by cleaning out and reorganizing the cabinets and drawers. They were sporting some blue marbled contact paper, so we're replacing it with a white non-skid pad. Unfortunately three rolls only got us so far, so we'll need to make a Target run to finish up. But along with a few organizational pieces we took our cabinets and drawers from messy and blue:

To clean, bright, and oh so happy! Especially for a cook like me.

Then, after we were all cleaned and organized, we put on the cabinet doors!

(Just don't look to the right. Or in the laundry room)

I'm in love with our new hardware. The dark bronze really pops against the crisp white cabinets, and it ties in the dark counters.

I have to say, even though it wasn't under the tree, wrapped with a bow, this may just be the best Christmas present ever.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Day Three

Well, the day is quickly coming to a close. No pictures to post, since everything in the house is hard to get right now. I'm posting from my phone, because the couch is pushed up against the wall and my computer is somewhere underneath. Not to mention, the camera battery is charging in our bedroom, which has been isolated as a part of kitty jail.

I'm happy to report that the cabinets are painted! They look so much whiter and brighter, an to be honest, it wasn't nearlyaa difficult as I thought. Oil paint is not as bad as people say it is. Sure, it's gummy if it gets on you, and it's hard to clean. Of course I'd rather deal with latex, but I was okay with oil. It was a pleasant surprise.

Tomorrow will be mostly a day of rest, movies, and chinese food. Or maybe waffle house. But I do plan to work a little bit. I'll clean up the kitchen and put most everything back in. Then I'll actuall clean the kitchen, which I've been dying to do since the project started. And I'll hang up 12 of the doors and see the hardware. It's a fittig way for a couple who loves home improvement to spend Christmas no?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!


There was a chance a couple of hours ago that if I didn't leave the kitchen, I was going to hulk smash my cabinets off the wall. This project is just not going smoothly. Today's setbacks have included an early morning trip to three hardware stores looking for cabinet hinges before getting frustrated and just coming home, running out of tape, finding out that both parchment paper and formica are immune to masking tape, and a final mad dash to Ace to get more tape, where I found 12 of the 17 hinges I need. They're a different brand a slightly different finish than the hinges at Lowe's and Home Depot, but Ace is ordering me 5 more which will be here by Wednesday. So we'll just have 5 doors that stay in a corner until then.

I'm taking a quick lunch break, and then I'll start wiping down the cabinets, doors, and drawer front. Then it will be time to lock that cats in kitty jail (our bedroom and the sunroom) and get started. Hopefully.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Just call me Holly Hobby

I'm a little sappy. Okay, maybe a lot sappy.

So when my husband was cleaning out his wallet the other day, and he came upon a folded up piece of paper and smiled at what was on it, I pounced. I unfolded it and saw...

A credit card receipt. Okay?

But then I looked a little closer at the date. May 21, 2008. And the merchant. Shelby County Clerk.

It was the receipt from our marriage license! So sweet that he's hung on to it for a year and a half, right? But now that I knew we had it, I didn't want it to sit in his wallet and disintegrate. So while grocery shopping this morning, I picked up an odd size frame and a kraft paper bag (it was cheaper than a roll of kraft paper) and set to work.

I started with a frame that was the perfect proportion, but it had a mat for two pictures that were totally the wrong shape.

So I took the mat out, laid it on the kraft bag, and traced a rectangle a bit larger.

Then I cut it out, chose which side of the paper I wanted (one side was slightly darker), and laid the mat down on the wrong side of the paper. Then I just used double stick tape to TIGHTLY stick the paper to the mat.

Voila! Now you've got a pretty background for your object to pop against.

Then, just use a bit of double stick tape and affix the object centered on the card. I didn't center it top to bottom, because I had plans for a little something on the bottom. Then put it back in the frame and there you have it, an original piece of art with meaning for you and your family.

Day Two

of the kitchen transformation is going, well, okay. The major problem so far is that things are taking longer than I planned. Oops, I didn't budget in the extra hour for primer drying. Oops, I totally underestimated how long it would take to remove the hardware from the cabinets. Oops, we wasted an hour and a half driving to the movie, which we missed anyway because of stupid Christmas shopping traffic.

I think I'm still okay on time, I really do. But let's just say my possible plans of painting the guest room or office this weekend are swiftly disappearing. And I'm rethinking painting the insides of the cabinets at this point.

But overall, I'm happy with the progress so far. Today, I finished priming the laundry room, did a quick craft project while the primer dried, made a grocery run, made a separate Lowe's run for paint trays (even though Lowe's and Target are NEXT DOOR TO EACH OTHER. Grrrrr.), and painted the laundry room. Then after our jaunt out to about a mile away from the movie theater and back, I took off all the cabinet doors and removed the hardware. I also figured out that the hinges I bought won't work. So tomorrow I've got to return the hinges and pick up some new ones tomorrow.

I'm also planning to get at least one coat on the cabinet frames and doors. If the weather is like it was this afternoon, I'll be clearing out the living room and painting the doors in there. Wish me luck, and hope for no little white kitty prints all over the floors, please!

Here are some pictures of today's progress.


Turn and face the strain!

When I think back to the colors we had planned when we first bought our house, I have to laugh. After living here, and using a bright green bathroom for six months, our color choices have changed so much.

After almost six years of apartment living, we were tired of white or beige walls and not being able to do anything about it. So we were thrilled with the possibility of adding color to our home with just a can and a brush. We scoffed at people with all beige houses. I know the words "Beige is not a color" came out of my house many times.

Who would have thought less than a year later, we would be opening a can of paint so light, we thought it hadn't been tinted? Who would have thought I'd be butt crazy in love with a color most people would call beige (It's putty, people. Putty.)?

And yet here we are. And I know why people have totally neutral homes. It's not because they don't have imagination or they can't choose colors. It's because those colors are soothing, relaxing, and beautiful. We still hate a lot of neutrals, but we also hate a lot of colors (we have never even glanced at a red paint swatch. We both love red, but not for our walls, thank you very much). And our old bedroom color is an illustration that there are neutrals that are just a really bad idea.

I would have loved to paint the entire house before moving in. But with a turnaround starting the day after we closed (which means two to four weeks of 16 hour workdays for me), and a lease that was quickly running out, we just didn't have the time. And now, I'm really glad. If we had used the colors we originally planned on, we would have ended up with something like this.

Now that we've lived here almost nine months, we've gone through so many changes. But we've settled on this, and I really think we're there.

Of course, some of the colors will change. We may choose different shades based on light. And that bathroom is sticking out like a sore thumb, so I'm sure it will be repainted. But we're finding our style, and we really love it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Operation Transformation: Day One

Today was the first real workday of my six day (maybe less? Hopefully less?) blitz on our kitchen and laundry room. We hit plenty of snags along the way, but we managed to get a lot done, and stay mostly on schedule.

I started with a very early trip to Lowe's. When I walked in, they were getting ready to do the employee cheer! I wondered for a minute if I should join in considering how much time (and money) I spend there. I picked up some dropcloths, tape, and a special ceiling roller with a shield. I also decided to grab the outlets, switches, cover plates, and cabinet hardware that I'll need later in the week. I'll be posting pictures of those projects soon enough!

Then I came home and primed over the many, many paint samples on the wall. And started the long process of taping. With cabinets, chair rail, and crown molding, that meant a lot of tape. I used about two and a half rolls, and ran out right after I started the laundry room! Luckily I had this little gadget to help it go by much, much faster.

This is a great product, and really cuts down on taping time. It's difficult to maneuver in corners (but isn't a regular tape roll too?) but it's so cenvenient. One thing to note, is that you should run your finger along the edge of the tape once it's in place. The little wheel isn't quite enough pressure to form a good seal.

We also removed the header panel in between the two sections of cabinets by the window. That alone has seriously cut down on the country in our country kitchen. We also took down the crown molding on that side, but we're going to reuse the piece (it's still in great shape) to run crown molding around our now separated cabinets!

And after taking down our light fixtures (and finding out that they're not anchored to anything, just hanging from the sheetrock, which has now caused sheetrock damage. Awesome!) we were finally ready to start painting!

I started with the ceilings while Brett took a break. I broke in our ceiling paint by spilling about an eighth of it all over my legs while pouring it in the tray. Good thing I was sitting on a dropcloth! I loved the shielded roller, and ended up with much less paint in my hair and on my face than my previous ceiling experiences. Considering we were going from white to white, I was shocked at how bright the new ceiling paint looked!

Brett vetoed my idea of painting in my underpants (hey! Our kitchen window opens up only to our driveway, okay? I was not giving away a free show.), I think mostly because he wanted to take pictures of my painting ensemble to share with the world.

Hmm, maybe when your underarm holes are so big you don't notice if you put your arms through them by mistake, it's time to retire the old shirt, huh? I swear, I ONLY paint in this.

With the ceilings looking bright and fresh, I washed the worst of the paint off my arms and face, and covered up my legs for a lunch date with Brett. We walked to our neighborhood Mexican restaurant and refueled for the rest of the day.

Then we spent a long afternoon taping the laundry room, priming the laundry room, and painting the kitchen walls. I won't go into details, but suffice to say I learned the following.

1) Dropcloths are not really helpful when they have wet paint on the underside of them
2) It is thankfully wasy to clean half dried paint from ceramic tile (and wood dining room chairs, and brand spanking new formica countertops)
3) It is NOT easy to clean half dried paint from grout, unfortunately
4) Spending 10 hours going up and down a ladder is about my limit. I sat on the powder room toilet while I washed my hands.

But we're done with the kitchen walls and I'm SO happy with how they turned out. So how are we doing on schedule?

The Plan:

-Prep both rooms for painting (walls and ceilings). CHECK!
-Paint ceiling in both rooms. CHECK!
-Prime laundry room. Half Check!
-Paint kitchen walls. CHECK!
-Paint laundry walls. Nope :(
-Return everything to a workable state. CHECK!

So we were almost there. And I would have finished but I decided I would wait to put tape on the freshly painted ceiling to prime and paint the laundry room walls. So I'll let the ceiling paint dry over night, slap some tape up there tomorrow morning, and prime and paint. It's a 6x6 room, so it shouldn't be a big time sucker.

Overall, we are very tired, but happy. when we opened the can of paint, it looked so white we wondered for a minute if the machine malfunctioned and didn't add any pigment. But after it was on the walls it was clearly a mix of cream and gray. And once it darkened, we both fell in love. Here are some pictures of our kitchen in it's current state. The flash warms the color up a bit, but the last picture is probably the truest to color.