Thursday, August 22, 2013

subway tile, now we can be together

And in the shower no less.  Prrrrrrr.

Seven years ago, we bought our 1891 house in New Bedford from people who flipped it.  We saved them from a plummeting housing market and they bestowed upon us their crappy renovations.  Don't get me wrong.  I love our house - the beautiful trim, hardwood floors, the sunny kitchen.  But the modernizations done by the previous owners weren't the greatest.

Case in point, the uber-cheap tub surround they installed.  You like its matte, stained, almond-ness, right?  I feel dirty just looking at it.

The tub was also put in crooked so we had this lovely gap where water could drip downstairs into the ceiling.  And yes, that tub is also grouted into place.  No trim here. 

But wait, it gets better.  Here's what the vinyl surround was attached to....just the lathe, baby.  The new tub can been seen below too.

THANKFULLY the studs weren't rotted and we were able to attach the new cement board easily and securely.  I say easily but of course this whole project almost killed my husband.  :)

Soon, we were tiling.  It took a lot of convincing for the hubs to agree to tackle subway tile.  We were a bit scared of the precision and math aspect of it.  Nothing in our house is plumb or level, but we did it!!!  And the butterfly tile effect in the corners looks pretty good.  This was definitely a two-person job.  Me, sitting on the toilet, making sure things were level and symmetrical, while my husband did the hard work.  Thanks, honey!  

And here's the finished product!!!

We love it so much and can't believe we waited 7 years to get the courage to do it.

Next I'll post about our recent rip-out of that lovely tile floor....

tile - white 3x6 subway tile from Home Depot
grout - Delorean Gray grout from Home Depot

faux barnwood shelf

Or the other title for this post "How to keep shit away from my crazy toddler."  I swear, he's like a raccoon, scavenging with his paws to knock something on the floor.  Cute vignettes....they don't last.

Our foyer is a special vortex of mischief for him.  Turn your back for a second and he's grabbing keys, knocking coffee over, dumping my make-up case.  All while I'm trying to get myself, his sister and he out the door in the morning.  

A shelf!  Yessss. 

I love the contrast between raw wood and industrial hardware.  It would also be an interesting addition to our traditional, old house. 

Unfortunately a barn isn't falling down in my backyard, nor do I want to buy this raccoon-proof piece through a catalog.  Time to go shopping in my shed!

Enter a piece of 2" by 10" wood from Home Depot that had been lounging around.  Mostly used to load my husband's '67 Harley Sportster in and out of the bed of pick up trucks.  That'll do nicely.  

I used the standard cider vinegar and steel wool method, topping it off with some Minmax Finishing Wax in Natural.  The brackets are plumbing fixtures in galvanized black.  (I am a Chicago plumber's daughter after all).  

More on the foyer transformation to come.  Hint: the gray dresser is an Ikea Rast hack.  Not raccoon proof but good for corralling 12 bottles of sunscreen.


Friday, August 9, 2013

DIY pottery barn grosgrain roman shade

My upstairs bathroom has had a vinyl roller shade in it for about 7 years.  Pretty ugly but functional.  Little did I know that those shades start to breakdown over time.  And they start to smell.  Bad.  Like armpits.  Not a nice treat when the shade gets heated up by the sun.

It was time to upgrade.  I've had my eye on Pottery Barn's grosgrain cordless roman shade for a while.  Loving the black ribbon for its graphic punch. 

Grosgrain Ribbon Cordless Roman Shade

On sale for $186 right now.  But that is still WAY more clams than I planned to spend on a shade for the bathroom.  There had to be a cheaper DIY solution.

Here's more grosgrain inspiration....


Enter Bed Bath and Beyond's cordless roman shade in white.  The fabric is polyester with the weave of indoor-outdoor fabric.  Not nearly as nice as the PB cotton but's for a steamy bathroom.

I bought some stitch witchery and black grosgrain from Joann Fabrics.  The instructions that came with the BBB shade said do not iron.  Hmmm.  Not good.  Gluing the ribbon down was an option but I liked the instant gratification of the stitch witchery.  So I took a chance.  If it totally ruined the shade, I was out 50 beans.

Keep in mind, I wasn't going for perfection here. But it doesn't look too bad.  The stitch witchery worked - I just didn't leave the iron on there for too long.  Just long enough to get it to stick. 

The horrible hack job white tile is coming out soon....thank god!  Loving the new Dash and Albert diamond rug though.  And it will look much better over TrafficMaster Allure in Hickory.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

whitlock and co pillows

I'm upgrading the pillows on our couch since the old ones are fugly and came free with the couch.  Thanks, Raymour and Flanigan  Fabric choices are overwhelming but the old pillows were even making me dislike the gallery wall, which is also a work in progress.  Enter the lovely Becky from Whitlock and Co.  Her geometric print pillow cover has single-handedly restored my faith that this couch can someday be cool.  Love the gray David Hicks-esque pattern.  Perhaps I'll buy a second one so the Hicks can be the "anchor pillows."  Hmmmm.  Thanks, Becky!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

black botanical prints

Trendy as these are, I still love 'em.  They appeal to my love of the design themes of science geek/Steam Punk/Victorian cool kid.  Remember this beauty?  I'm also the woman who would shank somebody for a porpoise skull.  Let's pretend I don't know about the permitting issues associated with that. The skull....not the shanking.

I bought The Art of Instruction on Amazon today and can't wait for it to get here!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

painted hutch

We have this nice built-in hutch in our dining room, which we love and use a lot.  We need that storage.  But in 7 years of living in this house, I've never done anything to it, except throw all our junk there. 

The other day I got a wild hair to paint the hutch and chose Martha Stewart Plumage in semi-gloss.

 Here is the finished product, complete with keeping-it-real stuff that's stored there.  Crayons, wine glasses, DVD's, napkins....all essential mom items.

You may also notice my strange little dog portrait there.  He's from a children's book that my mother-in-law had back in the 1950's.  It was a book of pictures of ACTUAL live animals posed and dressed up in human clothes.  This is probably not PETA approved.  :)  He's a part of my favorite vignette in the house which also features a pair of George and Martha Washington silhouettes and a poster from my husband's grandparents basement.  I'm weird, what can I say?

antlers reveal

After much scraping and pulling and soaking, I finally got down to the bare skull on this 50 year old rack. was yellow. Very yellow.  Probably stained from 50 years of decaying grease since the fur and skin were LEFT ON this thing.  Gross.  I tried all kinds of whitening techniques - baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, bleach.  No luck.  Finally I threw in the towel and decided to dry brush flat, white ceiling paint over the skull to brighten it.  Good enough for me!

The screw holes were already there from the skull being mounted in the shed all those years, so I used those to screw it to the wooden plate, then put wood putty over the screws and the screw holes and painted over the putty.

I bought the wooden plate at AC Moore, stained the front and painted the edging BM Hale Navy (a sample I had laying around).  Coated it with spray poly and we were done  Not too bad.

The gallery wall is still a work in progress....

Thursday, March 14, 2013

dark powder room

Like the itch you can't help but scratch, I finally caved and painted our half bath.  The color was BM Bronzed Beige that I painted about 7 years ago.  It's not bad but somehow felt blah.  I also had practically no art on the walls and wanted a darker, more gallery look to this tiny room.  It's really tiny, like 5x8.

A glimpse into our pantry/laundry area and the kitchen.  And the paint samples on the set of cabinets that will soon come down in lieu of open shelving.  More on that later.  The ugly white tile you see there extends into the bathroom.  We'll deal with that later as well.  Probably going to cover it in Trafficmaster Allure faux wood vinyl.   

Back to the bathroom - I decided to go with a dark blue, inspired by some of these rooms.

I chose BM Mysterious and here's the progress so far...

The gems above the toilet slay me.  I downloaded them from Vintage Printables and had it printed out at Office Max.  Gotta get it framed and matted better though.  Lots to still be done in this room but wanted to give you a sneak peek....

Thursday, February 28, 2013

mounting a 50 year old deer rack

....and did I mention cleaning it?  Yuck.  Don't read this post if you're feeling queasy.

My husband's grandfather shot this deer about 50 years ago in western Massachusetts.  But he failed to remove the skin/fur from the scalp before he mounted the rack in the shed.  Where it had remained....until I brought it home.  After polling guys at my office about how best to clean the skull cap (a perk of working for the Dept of Fish and Game), I'm letting the skull cap soak, then pulling and scraping the scalp until it's clean.  The image above is after I scraped the FIRST layer of gunk off.  That yellow stuff is or whatever.  After scraping it all off, then I'll do a peroxide treatment to bleach it. 

I'm planning to mount it to this curvy, oval plate from AC Moore. Probably staining the front face and painting the edging BM Hale Navy.

But how to style it?  I prefer the European style where the skull isn't covered up with leather or cloth.  I like seeing the white of the skull and where it meets the antlers.  Here's a few ideas....

German Roe Deer Skull Antlers Mounted In Vintage Oval Frame

Monday, February 4, 2013

damn you sconces

probably in another world, or in another home, one might be jealous that we have wall sconces. probably. but, I despise them. they look like generic dentist office lights and make me cringe every time I walk down our hallway. they basically look like the one pictured above, but with more metal showing.

I want to replace them with much more vintagey feeling lights. some day. but then, I saw this clock on one of my favorite sites three potato four and now am thinking it could replace the evil sconce in our living room. I love it.

how much cooler would we be with this clock hanging out of our wall? much cooler.


I'm craving it. big time. feeling trapped by all this cold and snow with little bean, wren. so, I day dream about our decks when she naps.

this is definitely happening...

I'm eager to start an herb garden on one of our front decks that gets morning sunlight but tends to be more shaded. there's a chance I will not be able to find wine boxes without paying a silly amount, if so, home depot has great little crates in various sizes for a good price. like this one below for $6.50.

a move and a bedroom

readers, it has been ages since I've posted. much has happened. my husband and I moved from california back to chicago where we bought our first piece of property: a condo in Andersonville.

also, we had a baby this summer, a beautiful little girl who is already 5 months old. it's all going too fast.

the condo we moved into is newly gut rehabbed and has many fine qualities. that said, it's a little stale and needs some adjustments in the details. now that things have settled down in the land of parenting, I am starting to get that mid-winter itch to make it all better. (and I cannot ignore that desire to improve the place for when we eventually sell it).

my big focus right now, (besides day dreaming about gardening and plotting furniture purchases for our decks), is our bedroom. I am still in that very neutral, very simple ease sort of mood when it comes to decorating. I am afraid to put anything on the walls - especially in the bedroom - because I simply do not want to overwhelm the mood or find myself sick of the artwork.

here's what I am in the mood for (all thanks to pinterest)

I like the idea of this wooden headboard but hate the cliched writing. barf. and also hate how the whole thing feels a little forced. I want easy, simple, cozy. 

like this one is actually comfortable and real. and beautiful. and pretty much the best around. (clearly I am drawn to wood walls). 

I also am drawn to the idea of a bed on the floor. am I crazy? I know my husband would not go for it, but there's something so relaxed about it.