Monday, April 26, 2010

My newest hobby

I've touched on it a bit here before, but a couple of months ago, a new hobby came into my life. It's part of my main squeeze, decor and design, but better.

It was right about the time I heard about Knock-Off Wood. Ana said something about "If you can sew, you can build." Well, I wasn't worried about whether I could build or not. I knew I could build. I was blessed with a natural mechanical inclination and a dad who never shied away from letting me help in his projects.

But I wondered if I could reverse that statement. If I could build, could I sew?

It turns out, the answer is yes.

Now, to be honest, I haven't tried anything too difficult yet. But there's a lot you can do just sewing straight lines.

You can make drapes (if you use clips, you don't even need to do the pocket, which is the most difficult part).

Or other window treatments! I just used an old store bought topper to eyeball the dimensions for this and went to town.

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You can also embellish plain store bought stuff for a cheap update. Like this $10 shower curtain that's now oversized and upscale.

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Or how about some quick change envelope pillow covers. These are so easy and FAST. I'm actually going to change them out for spring, hopefully this weekend!

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I already have plans for an apron and an ironing board cover (to brighten up my laundry room) with the leftovers from the office drapes. And I have seven yards of light gray ticking stripe in linen all ready to go for the living room and dining room drapes!

Last week my mom called and asked if I would be available for a couple of days in late May. She and my grandparents are going to Houston for a visit, and they wanted to know if I would come along. The company I work for has a plan that goes there twice a day, so it's not big deal for me to hop on and be picked up at the airport.

We used to live in Houston, but we moved away when I was 5 so I barely remember it. This trip is to visit the old houses and basically see how it has all changed, but my mom only had to say one word to get me ready to burn some vacation time: Ikea!

I've only been once, but Ikea is still my favorite source for affordable and modern fabrics/textiles. You really can't beat $6-8 a yard for upholstery grade fabric, especially in these beautiful prints. When my mom mentioned that she wanted to visit one, I knew I had to come along (I'm excited for all the toher stuff, too, I promise!).

I already have a list a mile long of things to check out. Like this dining table and this graphic rug. But by far the lengthiest part of my list is for fabrics!

I've got plans racing around, and after this trip (and a couple of other already chosen fabrics that I haven't purchased), I'll be ready to outfit my entire home in window treatments and throw pillows.

I've already touched on a couple of these with my mood board this morning. But oh, there's more.

For the kitchen window, I'm making a red and orange roman shade with a little whimsy (and for a total cost of around $8!)

In the laundry room, I'll put a topper similar to the one in the bathroom. This one will tie in the red and orange from the kitchen and the laundry room accessories.

And speaking of Gunvor, I'll use one of the black/white options for pillows in the living room, and tie it in to the guest room (and possibly the guest bath) as well.

Throughout the living room, I'll be using a mix of blacks, whites, and grays, with a touch of yellow. For the chair, a bold graphic print in black and white will really help it stand out!

Upstairs, the guest room is going girly with pink houndstooth (I already have it) and black and white stripes. A little orange and pink floral will tie it together.

And in the sunroom, the futon will be covered in a solid with a bold stripe of octopus! Add throw pillows in red, black, and yellow and you've got a bright room with a touch of whimsy!

It's hard to believe that just four months ago, I never would have considered any of these plans. I was limited to what was in stores, already made. I didn't even know how to hem curtains that were too long. Sewing has opened me up to so many choices!

Do you sew? Do you love it or see it as a chore?

Mood Board Monday! A cozy chic living/dining room

I'm so excited to be a part of today's Mood Board Monday. When I heard it was being sponsored by one of my favorite (possibly my very favorite) decor-related companies, I was so stoked!

When I imagine my dream house, there's one thing that kind of sticks out. Lots and lots of West Elm furniture and decor. It's modern, it's fresh, it's young, and best of all, it's affordable!

Now West Elm has teamed up with PATCH NYC to create this gorgeous collection of prints, pillows, and serveware! I spy lots of my favorite things: animals, botanicals, black, white, and of course, gray!

Since I snagged a new (to me) china cabinet last week, my mind has been racing with ideas for our living room and dining room. Normally, I like to make "fantasy" mood boards, but I was so excited about our newest acquisition, I decided to create a mood board that I can actually see myself putting into action!

Our living room and dining room are one big space. We love how open our home is for it's time (early 90s)and we want to highlight the largest room in our house. I've been inspired by our new china cabinet and my wardrobe lately. I'm absolutely loving this color scheme, inspired by some of my favorite outfits!

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I'm so excited about these colors! I started with my very favorite color, a light gray for the walls. This is Benjamin Moore Early Morning Mist. It has a touch of beige that warms it up beautifully, and it will really coordinate with our even lighter gray kitchen!

Immediately when I saw the china cabinet, I knew I wanted it to be dark. I thought a dark navy, like Benjamin Moore Old Navy would be stunning. From there, I went to bright yellow. I've been loving navy and yellow together lately, wearing a yellow sweater and dark indigo jeans at least once a week. I just can't wait to see it in my house! I'll line the back of the china cabinet with this Sofia fabric from Ikea. The stripe gives it a touch of nautical but the yellow keeps it fun instead of stuffy.

To complete the dining room, a light and airy glass dining table from West Elm along with six of these gorgeous slate gray chairs. I would love to bring in some of that fiery orange we love, and a big white vase filled with orange tulips on the table is a great place for that!

I would love a large, abstract piece of art for the dining room that brought in the navy, the grays, and a big pop of yellow. This painting is in the home of the geniuses behind Workstead. It's a family piece, but I would love to try my hand at something similar in color!

In the living room, a flokati rug from Ikea will be perfect to plush up our ceramic tile floors. Topped with an 88" Goodwin Sofa in Charcoal from West Elm, it's the perfect place to relax. Doesn't that pigeon pillow cover from West Elm's PATCH NYC line look like the perfect place to rest your head?We'd also add our vintage chair and some glass and metal end tables for an eclectic look.

We'd also love to do a collage of prints above our vintage console/record player in our living room. I started off with a nod to the not-so-subtle animal theme we have going on in our house. These two prints were the jumping off point for the entire room. The mix of gray, black, and white just sang to me!

I'd add in this gorgeous pen and paper drawing of Paris (someone's getting excited about vacation this year!). I love the subtle vertical lines, and it would bring the vertical stripes from the dining room and window to the other side of the room. For a little pop of yellow, this Sugar Plum Vines print would look right at home. And we know I love birds, so this Parking Lot Fields print is just the perfect thing. I love this gray and navy Anchor Block Print card for only $4! Add a cheap Ikea or Target gallery frame and it will look like a million bucks! We'll finish off the grouping with this gorgeous shot of the ocean at sunset. This beautiful photograph brings in all the colors I'm going for!

Last but not least, my favorite part of any room lately, the fabrics! It's hard to beat Ikea fabric prices. If you're looking for modern and graphic fabrics on a budget, it's the best place to start. I can't wait to make the trip in a few weeks to stock up for my sewing! For this room, I think a mix of black, white, and gray with touches of yellow and orange is just the ticket. Let's go left to right.

First is Ikea Gunvor. I'll use this for a couch pillow and maybe some table linens. I love the stark black and white shapes. It kind of reminds me of high school geography!

The second fabric is Ikea Britten Nummer. It's a steal at only $6 a yard, and it's a perfect marriage between my love of numbers, and my husband's love of words. This will make an excellent pillow for the couch! Since it's 100% cotton and washable, I'd also think about making a cat bed for the little ones!

Next is Ikea Majken. We already have the orange version of this fabric in our office, and the scraps are destined to become an ironing board cover and a new apron to grace our laundry room. But I love this black on gray version. It would be perfect to bring in the "orange" theme into this room in a less than literal way.

Next is the Sofia Stripe in yellow. In addition to the backing of the china cabinet, I would make a lumbar pillow in a vertical stripe for the vintage chair.

The next fabric may be my favorite in the room. The Ikea Saralisa in white is a beautiful bold print in black and white. I can't wait to use it to recover the vintage chair we bought for $3 this spring! I want to gold leaf the wood parts on the arms and legs, and I think they would really pop against this print.

Next comes this orange Ikea Gunilla, perfect for a throw pillow on the gray couch. I already have this fabric and have been on the lookout for the perfect use for it. I think I've found it!

For window treatments, we'll use one fabric for the living room and dining room windows, and on the front door for a cohesive look. I scored the gray ticking stripe linen on the far right from Jenny at the Little Green Notebook for a song. I'll do drapery panels with clip rings for the windows, and an easy roman shade from the existing blinds!

So what do you think? Two cohesive rooms for a grand total of about $3250 (not including paint), not so bad in my book!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Has moved into our dining room.

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But in seriousness, I called Brett at work today on the verge of quitting and buying a quart of black paint. I really was not a fan of the blue.

We picked a nice navy and decided we wanted blue. But when I went to the store I chickened out and went a step down on the strip, to the darkest color. Which was seriously black. With maybe a single drop of blue.

Well, when you take that little black swatch and multiply it by many thousands, it is BLUE.

I really only hated it when the light was turned on. So I decided we would just never turn the dining room light on again. Good plan, right?

Brett had other ideas. When he got home, he convinced me that another coat might deepen the color, and we should finish the job and give it a real shot. Even after two good coats. Even after it was pretty much dry, it was still BLUE. The weird thing was, the doors looked like exactly the color we had in mind. But on the cabinet itself, smurf city.

But we put the lovely original hardware back on and spent a long while figuring out the weird hinges.

And it wasn't so bad.

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Actually, it wasn't so bad at all!

We have a hard stop at 8 for Brett, so we had to wait on the glass doors until tomorrow night. But I held them up and it looked pretty darn good! I'm in absolute lust with that gorgeous brass (?) hardware. The flash totally blows out the blue, but you can see that gorgeous metal!

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We also painted the base and legs of our (once grandma's, once mom's) dining table. It was painted a flat brighter blue. I think the slightly deeper color and the high gloss really ups the chic factor! It's still not my dream table, but this will extend it's life in our house. Probably.

This picture shows the difference in the old (right) and new (left) colors.

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Overall, I'm happy now. I think once I line the currently wood gran back with some modern paper and get my china in there, I'll love it.

It's definite work in progress, but it's none too shabby for a $120 investment and two days of work!

Here's one last blurry, flashless picture that shows the colors as true to life as I can get them.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Oh yeah

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That's why I haven't done my nails in a year.

But the china cabinet is primed and ready for painting tomorrow!

Today, we removed the doors and took off the hardware (actually, Brett did that while I put all the little parts and pieces into baggies).

Then I made a quick trip to Lowe's for some glue to fix one broken piece inside the cabinet. I also got a philodendron and a little pot, which will be a nice job for me to take care of after supper. I'm excited to add some green to the sunroom!

Once I got home, I glued the piece in and waited (and ate lunch) while it was drying. Then I set to work!

And let me tell you. Painting something with glass doors is a total pain in the ass. There is very little I wouldn't rather do than wake up in the morning and paint the china cabinet and table legs.

But even just primed, it looks so much more modern. I can't wait to see it all painted!

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Friday, April 23, 2010

I'm Giddy!

Every time I look in my dining room and see this:

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We picked her up and drove her across town on the interstate last night!

I'm in love. Now I just have to figure out how to figure out her facelift. Does she look like more of a blue cabinet or a purple cabinet?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Color Inspiration

I always thought those articles you see about choosing paint colors were kind of hokey. Just because I like a color on my shoes doesn't mean I want it on my wall, you know?

I thought the only places I really found color inspiration were pictures of actual rooms, and my collection of fan decks and paint swatches. And that's been mostly true, at least for walls.

But when I started working on my submission for next week's Mood Board Monday (SO excited that I couldn't WAIT until this weekend to work on it), I realized something. My color scheme was coming pretty much directly from my wardrobe. That day, I was wearing a indigo jeans, a gray tee shirt, and a yellow sweater, with flame orange shoes. In fact, I have a similar outfit on today (minus the yellow).


Trust me, these colors (navy dress, gray nails and sweater, black buttons, orange shoes) will look very familiar come Monday. And hopefully, come whenever we redo our living room/dining room since that's what my mood board is for!

And then I started thinking about other places I've drawn inspiration from.

My patio chairs are painted Safety Red, which just happens to be the color of these babies:


And I'm busting at the seams to add some pink to my guest room and guest bath after seeing all of the gorgeous azaleas this spring!


And I'm dying to make this yellow iPhone case my own. But it's not the only place I want lots of yellow. I want large doses in the dining room and I'll add some to the guest room too!

Where do you find color inspiration? Do you stick to the conventional shelter mags and decor blogs, or have you ever taken your sweater for a color match?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


On Friday, we'll be making the journey across town and paying $100 for this thing!

God love Craigslist!

It looks so substantial, and I love that the rounded doors mimic our kitchen cabinets.

The finish isn't terrible, but it's not quite what I had in mind. Between scoring this piece and an upcoming trip to Ikea (!) my head is swimming. So what's the plan?

First I'm going to line the back with this yellow stripe from Ikea.

I just started making a list of fabrics I want to pick up and I'm up to twelve. TWELVE. I need to cull, but they all have a point and a purpose and if I buy them all I'll never need to buy another fabric for the house ever ever ever(except for the master bedroom curtains and the futon cover). But we'll see. Ikea fabric prices are hard to beat.

I actually kind of like the gold grill that you can barely see in the picture. If it's gold, I'll probably keep it. It will depend on how I feel and how difficult it looks to remove.

For the finish? We're going dark. Plum or Navy, but either way I want to be in "almost black" territory.

These walls are Benjamin Moore Old Navy. I think that would look just divine with the yellow stripe. Kind of nautical, kind of eclectic. And with light gray walls and a different gray stripe in the room for window treatments? And a glass table with yellow wrap chairs?

I think I'm in decor heaven.

Don't you just love it when your mind races with the possibilities for a new project? It's just the best feeling out there.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I'll admit, I had few home related plans this week. But I was so excited to get my new fabric from the Little Green Notebook (I snagged enough of the gray stripe for our living room chair or LR/DR curtains and a yard of the pink houndstooth), I was hoping to bust out the machine and make a couple of changes to the guest room.

And... I got nothing.

Friday I took some me time and had a salon/spa/shopping day. My eyebrows are waxed and dyed, my eyelashes are tinted, and my hair is gone. I realized that I've had a bob somewhere between my chin and my shoulders for the last two plus years. I was ready for a change. And with the weather changing, I was ready for something short.

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Friday night we had a great time at a Zydeco concert. Then yesterday, I spent all day baking for today. Brett's work had a crawfish boil and a dessert contest today!

I went with s'mores and cherry limeade cupcakes. Even though I didn't win, we made a strong showing. And I may have eaten a few mouthfuls of toasted marshmallow frosting.

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We had a great time, though! But this week I'm hoping to get back to some small projects nd some craigslist stalking.

Hope everybody had a great weekend!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My secret weapon

Do you ever find yourself staring at a throw pillow or a bolt of fabric in a store, wondering if it will match a certain color scheme? Or looking at a credenza at a thrift sale wondering if it's too big or too small for your dining room?

Yeah, me too. And I got tired of it.

So I made this:

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It goes everywhere with me. And it has everything I need to be very, very confident shopper. Thanks to this little guy, I make very few returns when I find something just doesn't work.

Each room has a section. There's a floor plan, with some key dimensions.

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Then, for rooms that haven't been painted yet, the square footage of wall space. This can come in serious handy on those on-a-whim trips to the paint store.

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Then, some information about fabric needs for the room, along with dimensions of the windows.

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And then, a page on furnishing needs and ideal sizes.

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Rooms that are farther along have details about the colors I've chosen. I also plan to add fabric swatches, once I figure out how to attach them.

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And for things that are less than permanent, I use post-its. Here's a list of the many, many grays I'm considering for the living room and dining room walls.

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And by far the most useful page is this one.

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It's perfect picking out the nuances between blue-grays and blue-greens and green-grays when I'm picking out fabrics and furnishings.

For such a minimal investment, this tool has given me so much in return.

Do you have any tools that save your butt on a regular basis?

Also, we completely overhauled our home tour site! If you're interested in how our house looks as of this afternoon (and finally pictures of the kitchen that show the actual color), go on over to the top of the sidebar, and click on the picture of our house.

Or just click here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Exactly one year ago, we were sitting at Waffle House nervously pushing eggs and grits around our plates listening to the guy two tables over brag about what a chauvinist male he is to his friend. We were so nervous about the decision we were making that day. We started out in our totally packed apartment, and quickly realized that we couldn't handle sitting there staring at the now blank walls of our tiny duplex. So we hung out at Waffle House, and then went to the bank to get the biggest certified check we'd ever written. Then we headed to the lawyer to wait for our mortgage broker to finally get her act together and send over the papers, and we signed until our hands cramped and our eyes glossed over.

We bought a house.

That night, as we tried to fall asleep on an air mattress on the floor of our new master bedroom, we just couldn't stop looking at each other and smiling. Even when the WHOOSH of water from our in-laws brushing their teeth upstairs rocketed by our heads. Even though our stove was beeping ever 20 seconds from the minute we walked in the door. Even though the refrigerator the sellers graciously offered to us was approximately 55 inside. Even though the previous owners' giant furniture was covering up some pretty gnarly carpet stains.

It was ours. And we were so happy.

Of course, reality hit us a few months later. Owning a house is expensive. Owning a house is a lot of work. Owning a house can really, really suck.

But oh, owning a house is so rewarding. This place is mine, in a way an apartment never was. It's more than paint and furnishings. That ugly tile floor? Mine. Giant crack in the driveway? Mine. Hawthorne bushes in the front flowerbeds? Mine. A carport big enough for TWO cars to park in it?!? Mine.

When we put the offer in on our house, we knew it wasn't perfect. It's not our dream house. It's a little farther from my office than I'd like. I's prefer if the upstairs bathroom had a shower. I'd prefer a bigger kitchen and wood floors instead of tile.

But it's mine. And in the past 365 days, I have fallen completely in love. I love my house. I know Brett feels the same way. And although we can't wait until we're "done," I know there's a huge part of us that will really miss the time spent working on this place.

Sometimes it seems like we're moving so slowly on the house. I feel like I'm not doing nearly enough, or the budget's just not there, or I've made a mistake, but when I look back at the transformation of our home in the last 12 months, I'm pretty freaking happy.

We started out with the pukey yellow bathroom upstairs. I think we lasted less than a month before we painted it green on a whim.

From here:

To here:

And then after about six months of being assaulted by the GREEN, to here:

Next came our bedroom. My birthday present was new bedroom furniture and bedding, and from my parents I got a gift card to repaint the room (and my mom's help in stenciling the pattern near the ceiling).

From here (with the seller's stuff):

To here:

Then, we decided to take on our leaky, hot sunroom:

And turn it into a bright, breezy screened in porch:

When our oven broke in November, we decided to go ahead and redo the kitchen for Christmas, taking it from this:

To this:

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Then, thanks to some Christmas gift cards, we painted the guest bedroom:



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And the guest room (plus my first sewing project!):




And then we rounded it all off with a quick update for our bathroom, from this:

To this:

When I look back at all that we've done this year, I'm so proud. I really think buying this house was one of the best decisions we've made, and I'm so happy with how much we've grown to love it. I can't wait to see what another year brings us!