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Thursday, February 28, 2013

a long awaited upgrade

Is anyone else like me and can spot a clearance bin, rack or tag from a mile away? You have to at least see what the deal is, right?

I made a quick stop at Home Depot today for a pack of upholstery staples. That's was all I went in for.

Then I crossed paths with a clearance bin. A clearance bin full of hardware! And it didn't look anything like blue painter's tape(see below). 

 At $1.50 each, the marked down pulls quickly made their way into my cart.  I came up short by about 10 pulls, but a helpful employee scanned them and will transfer the rest from another store for me. Perfect!

Once home, the next step would be to convince Cameron that mixing metal finishes is OK. In fact, it can look really good. In fact I even wrote a post HERE about just that!

I don't think he's convinced it's OK to use hardware that doesn't match our stainless appliances. He's definitely not excited about my aged brass pulls. In fact he said he wasn't, but still gave me the go ahead to use them anyways. Something about the decorating being "my thing", not his.

I love them and am happy to have hardware that stays on the cabinets when I open them. Pretty sure these won't rip off like tape does when put to use. Maybe if I bat my eyelashes he'll even install them this weekend.   Ha, like that's ever worked!

PS. I know some of our dear family members and friends will miss them. Looks like you'll have to find something else in our house to poke fun at. There's always our plywood floor....

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chalk Paint DIY

So here's the deal when it came to painting the chair I'm finishing up right now.

For my first attempt, I brushed the frame with a semi gloss paint and really disliked the finish. It's an old chair with a few nicks and dents that didn't come out with sanding, and the glossy paint only highlighted that.

More sanding happened and then I sprayed it with matte white paint, leftover from another project. All was good until I put the fabric next too it. The white in the fabric clashed with the white on the frame. It just looked wrong. Can you tell in this picture?

By this point, as you'll notice, I had started upholstering, thinking I could live with it. But after a few days of looking at it, I knew something had to be done. What to do?

Chalkpaint seems pretty popular right now, and I had never tried it before. Partly because I'm not really into the "shabby-chic" look it's often used for. Shiny, glossy, laquered furniture is more my taste, so I was hesitant to try it out. Well, that and the price tag I've seen on most brands out there. I'm sure they're great products, but it's not in my budget right now.

So with a little research, I learned that you can make your own chalk paint. This seemed like a good opportunity to give it a shot, and hope that the 3rd time would be a charm!

Here's what I used and how I did it:

First, I bundled up my little guy, grabbed a scrap of fabric and headed to Home Depot for supplies. I wanted to make sure whatever paint color I picked would actually work with the fabric this time.

For about $2.50, I got a sample pot of Behr's Mild Mint. It's a soft, light mint color with a smidge of grey that keeps it from looking too bright.  A can of Minwax Paste Finishing Wax in Natural (don't get the Dark) added around $9.00 to my bill. I would have been able to buy the Plaster of Paris there, but my sister-in-law had a good size bucket already and let me use some(Thanks Cynthia!).

Once I was home and the toddler was napping, I grabbed my supplies and started mixing.

The ratio is 3 parts of paint to 1 part plaster. I had 8 ounces of paint and an empty 8 ounce glass jar which allowed me to estimate the one part of plaster needed.  It ended up being a few spoonfuls to which I added a small amount of water.  You want a pancake batter consistency. Then, stir like crazy, or put the lid on and shake until smooth. This is key to keeping the paint from being too gritty.

Next, I combined the paint and the plaster mixture together in a can and mixed it together.  Yes, I was using our good utensil instead of the paint stick nearby. Not sure why. Pregnancy brain?

Now you're ready to paint. I didn't sand the previous coat of paint since I figured it would act as primer, but I'm sure you want to make sure the surface is clean and free of any debris before applying chalk paint.

I used a 1 inch Purdy brush and applied 2 thin layers of paint, allowing it to dry between coats.  This paint was really easy to work with and smoothed out nicely, ideal when painting a chair with plenty of groves and detail (See, Ihad  already started upholstering, so I cheated and pinned the lining out of the way. Ideally, paint the chair first, then upholster!).

Once my last coat was dry, it was time to finish with wax. This helps protect the paint and gave the chair a nice sheen.

Using a soft, clean rag I worked small amounts of wax on to the frame. Spread it out so there isn't visable residue, especially in the grooves. If excess is left to dry, it will look yellow and doesn't buff out as well.

Once the wax is applied, let it dry - I left it for a few hours because I needed to do other things(like laundry, cook supper and entertain my little guy...). I don't think it takes quite that long to dry, and should list that info. on the container itself. 

When it has finished drying, take another clean rag and start to buff the frame. It will go from a dull finish to a satin sheen. 

I made the mistake of leaving a little wax in some of the detailed areas, but found that I could gently scrape at it with my nail and it would come right off. When you're happy with the finish, your finished! 

There's a little teaser of the almost completed chair. A few more yards of cording to sew and attach and I will be done, once and for all!

What are your experiences with chalk paint? Ever used it? Bought it or made it? I'd love to hear more(even some tips as this was just my first try...) or see some of your projects.  Leave me a comment or link to your finished pieces so I can take a look :)

Newborn Essentials

The countdown is on for baby No. 2 to arrive. My C-section is scheduled for the morning of March 8th. I can't believe it's almost time to meet our new baby! My mom is flying in from AZ today and we have lots to do to get ready for the little one's arrival! 

Now I can't claim to be a very experienced mother, only having a toddler around, but I can say that there are a few things which quickly became my favorites when that toddler was a newborn! 

I've rounded them up to share with you, since I'm bound to use them again when we bring home our wee one.

Keep in mind, these are just the basic, every day items. Obviously, there's plenty of other things you'll need for baby and mommy, not to mention the big ticket things like a stroller and car seat.  Without further ado, here's my list of must have items:

Layer these under any and every outfit you wear on your newborn. Lets just say an extra layer saved a few outfits for us. Babies make some serious messes!

I'm pretty partial to Aveda since I've been using their all-natural products for years.  Cheap? No, but worth every penny. We all use this shampoo in our house as it's the only thing that keeps our scalp healthy.  But it's also awesome for a newborn as a shampoo and body wash since it's so gentle(not to mention, it smells awesome!). It's nice to just have one product everyone can use to cut down on the bottles cluttering up a shower.

These are so popular for good reason. They're more then just trendy and cute! I LOVE these. Here's why: They're really big, stretchy and extremely lightweight, making them perfect for swaddling your baby. They also clean up well, and stains came out every time.  Each wash only made them softer. I found them handy for a burp cloth in a pinch, a nursing cover and stroller/carseat cover too. There's tons of adorable patterns available online, but I also found they were less expensive if you bought them in store at Target.

I can't say enough good things about this oil. It took care of cradle cap that usually shows up during the baby's first few weeks. I rub a few drops (a little goes a long way) into his scalp and let it sit for a while before gently combing it out. Worked like a charm! 
This also makes a great massage lotion for baby after their bath, and soothes their dry skin especially in the winter. If you're still pregnant, buy some now to use on your growing tummy, it helps with the itchiness due to your skin stretching.

It's pretty tricky to trim a newborn's nails, isn't it? Talmadge wore these around the clock for a good few weeks after he was born. If he didn't have a pair on, he was bound to scratch his face. They're nice and tiny and stayed put.

Cheap, unscented and textured. If you've changed a dirty diaper, you know why a bit of texture is helpful. Enough said, I think! 

I didn't use cloth diapers with our baby, but I used these as spit cloths. Super absorbent, large and easy to clean. Don't even bother with anything else :)

For the first while, there was always a bucket of water and a few scoops of this stain remover going. Toss in soiled clothes, blankets, burp cloths, etc to soak until you have a chance to put things through the washer. It took care of a lot of stains! 

Purchased new, I think they're pricey. Lucky for me, I found a used one for cheap on Craigslist. They're modern looking, my baby loved rocking in it and the best part? The fabric seat unzips to go right into the washer when needed. I also used a magic eraser when the plastic would get scuffed and it still looks good as new! They take up little space (a good thing since it seems like your house is invaded with baby gear!) and are adjustable too.

I actually never got attached to any certain brand of diaper cream since we didn't have issues with that. My nurse gave me a tip that I followed consistently: She told me to start using a cream at every diaper change to prevent a rash instead of trying to get rid of them after they start.

This stuff worked for our little guy when he was gassy and fussy. Some say it does work, some say they don't notice a difference, but it's worth trying!

These are the best! Sure, it's fun dressing up a baby in cute outfits, but after they mess the 3rd one, you'll resort to these. I didn't care for the sack type sleepers since they always rode up and left the legs bare. Also, skip the snaps and buttons. When you're blurry- eyed and half asleep dressing a tiny baby at 3 AM, a zipper is a wonderful thing! The footed sleepers also help keep socks on those tiny feet. Soft, comfortable, convenient, inexpensive and cute-What more can you ask for?

Did I miss anything that you just had to have when you brought home a newborn? I'd love to hear! 

Anything that helped you care for a second child while keeping up with a toddler?
I'm still trying to find a wrap or carrier that's really easy to use and comfortable to free up my hands when needed-Your feedback is welcome here!!!
Monday, February 25, 2013

My kind of Monday!

While I had planned to finish up working on my chair today, I threw that plan out the window as soon as a friend called and told me she'd be in town for the day with her two kiddos, Avrill and Drew(Talmadge loves hanging with them too). Target, Starbucks, Panera and Barnes & Noble? Catching up with a friend? Out of the house on a beautiful sunny day? I can delay a project one more day for that!

Then, if that wasn't fun enough, I arrived home to a big package on my doorstep.  I racked my brain as to what it could be, since I haven't ordered anything online in some time.  Opening it up, I discovered this.

Yep, cleaning supplies that made this homemaker/housewife/work-from-home mommy one happy gal!

Mrs. Meyers sent me this package as a thank you for feedback I gave them on their website. It was completely unrelated to my blog, but they asked a while back if they could use my comments in future marketing, and in return, they would send a "little" gift.

There's nothing little about this gift! A bucket FULL of amazing scented, all natural, super cute (that packaging!) products to use.

The Mrs. Meyers products have a great story behind them too. This brand is inspired by a real life Mother,Thelma. And, she's from Iowa and raised 9 kids (With 8 siblings myself, I think that's pretty cool!). Her spunky attitude comes through in the perfectly thought out details of the products:The scents, packaging, wording, etc. It's those little things that make something as tedious actually seem fun!

To wrap up my already great day, we packed up our little family and made a trip to Menards for more drywall mud, but came home with something else for Talmadge's room.

More about it soon!

Don't you love when your day just unexpectedly becomes great for little reasons? Hope your week is off to a good start too!

PS. I wasn't paid or asked to post about Mrs. Meyers - Just enjoy sharing things I use and love!

Weekend Recap

Another weekend spent working on the house! No complaints about that, as I'm always happy to see progress.

A few weeks ago, Talmadge's bedroom looked like this.

(A few people have asked how you access this bedroom, since it's the "attic" room in the addition, above the dining room. The room lined up nicely with our upstairs office, so we cut a doorway into this room from there - see bottom image of this post.)

After insulating the walls, wiring for lights and outlets and putting up drywall, we've started to mud and tape.  It might not be especially exciting to you, but for us, it's one step closer to a finished, useable room.  And with a new baby on it's way in less then two weeks, that's a very good thing!

I also started cleaning up the office, where all tools, drywall scraps and other miscellanious things have been hanging out while we work on the bedroom.

Since I wasn't about to make 30 trips up and down the stairs carrying drywall pieces, I got the go ahead to pitch them out the window.  Convenient!

Someone else gets to load it into the truck to haul away!
The doorway has been cut out for a new door, although there'll be some work to be done so the door fits. Measurements were off by an inch or less, so that needs to be fixed before the door is installed.

So that's where we're at as of today. Maybe not the most inspiring pictures, but this is real life renovating!

I'm also crossing my fingers I find the time (and energy?!) to finally finish my chair that's been in the works for far too long.  I'm done once and for all with painting the frame and have more to tell you about that. Expect to see a finish project soon (see snippets about it on my Facebook page, or Like to follow me there: Swoon! Interiors Facebook Page).
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

More upholstery + sources for you!

If you're following me on Facebook (if you're not, and want to, you can right HERE), you would have seen that I've dug in and got to work on upholstering this chair. 

You also likely noticed that I'm using my lovely Greek Key fabric. Such a classic print, isn't it?

Originally I had planned to use the fabric on this chair HERE.  But plans have since changed. 

I decided against using the greek key on the chair above, because I want something a little more durable and kid friendly. I think it would be great to use this chair in one of the kid's rooms as a place to curl up and read. So I'm waiting until I find the right fabric for that.

But back to the chair I'm working on.  Here's the progress as of last night.

The seat is upholstered, so all that's left is the seat back. It shouldn't take me long to complete! 

What I'm trying to decide on now, is how to trim it. I could sew a double welt from the fabric, or else use a ribbon trim (likely grosgrain) and add these nickel plated nails I bought a while back.

It would be an easy way to add some color and detail to the black and white color scheme that's happening. What do you think?

I went to local fabric stores yesterday to see what was available for ribbon and trims.  Unfortunately, I left empty handed and dissapointed with their selection. Instead, I've been looking online at some of my favorite sites and have had better luck. It got me thinking I should share some of these resources with you incase you're ever looking for supplies!

Here's a little list of sites that I like to order from or else would recommend because of their selection:

Online Fabric Store
This site is where I usually buy my upholstery products.  When I need to replace batting or webbing, the insides of a chair, this is where I shop.  Good prices and good service! They also have a ton of fabrics and trim available too.

MJ Trimming
I'm likely going to order my grosgrain trim from them as they seem to have the best colors and variety of widths. They also have lots of craft/jewelry supplies, so if that's your thing, you'll like them!

Lewis and Sheron Textiles
I love browsing their fabric selection. They're always adding to it and have reasonable prices for high quality designer fabrics. Also, check out their patterned trim if you ever want to dress up the edges of your curtains or shades!

Inside Fabric
A great site for discounted designer fabrics. Plenty of patterns to choose from and a well organized site.
I've used this site a few times for projects. They also carry sewing supplies and sometimes have easy to find coupon codes online or by email.

House Fabric
More discounted designer fabric.  I have my eye on a few prints from here!

Decorator's Best.
You really have to dig around on this site, but they have a huge selection of to the trade fabrics and wallpapers.  A little time consuming, but great if you're looking for something specific.

That list should keep you busy for a while! Please feel free to email me or leave a comment if you have any questions about my projects. I'd love to try to help you out if you're working on something similar!
Monday, February 18, 2013

Behind the scenes

In case you aren't familiar with what living through a renovation looks like at times, I'll fill you in.

That's the current view from my desk in the "office."  The aftermath of drywall that's just been hung in the bedroom we're working on for Talmadge.

Sometimes, it makes me want to pull my hair out and other times I hardly notice it!

The good news is that all the drywall is up, so we can start mudding and sanding. The bad news is that means there'll be a bigger mess then what you're looking at here!

Oh yeah, did I mention we'll be bringing home a brand new baby in a couple weeks? Here's to hoping things will be cleaned up by then. Though I have my doubts!

Just a little "keeping it real" glimpse into our house to start off the week! Happy Monday friends!

(PS. If you're wondering what the tennis racket is doing in the room, I have one word: Bats -Thankfully things are sealed up now and they're gone.)
Friday, February 15, 2013

Gigi NY Review

The last few weeks I've been toting around my new Gigi NY wristlet, non-stop! I'm thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to review this piece from their just-launched Spring collection.

Gigi New York makes luxurious, high quality leather purses, clutches, wallets and more in the most incredible colors and styles.

I can't get enough of mint-colored anything right now, so while the other colors are lovely, I quickly sniffed out the the one you see above. Teaser: the bright coral and yellow were tempting, too! Also, most items can be personalized with your monogrammed initials!

Handsome (ok, cute!) and well-constructed, this little wristlet is super-practical. I often carry around a large, heavy diaper bag (Cameron calls it the black hole), meaning I'm always digging for my keys, cellphone or wallet, which has settled somewhere near the bottom with the loose Cheerios and lint-covered soothers. Now, I keep my essentials in this right-size wristlet, and when I'm just running a few errands, I ditch the diaper bag, grab the wristlet and I'm ready to go.

So here's the fun part: Gigi New York has offered my readers a generous discount. Use the code INTERIORS and get 20% off your next purchase! If you pick something up, let me know...I'd love to see that coral color in someone's hands!
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

getting started-again!

A few days ago, I dragged this piece up from the basement. My mom picked it up at a yard sale for $5.00, if I remember correctly. 

Last summer, I got around to removing the layers of(ugly)fabric, tightened all the webbing and started painting it. 

Painting the crevices and details with a brush ended in frustration when my finish dried less then smooth. By that point, I was not in the mood to sand again, so I stored it away. Until now!

Enter spray paint.  Matte spray paint to boot. 

I know there's all kinds of tutorials on how to paint furniture with a brush, but I like the results of spraying paint, especially on detailed pieces of furniture. I like it even better when I can convince Cam to do it with his professional grade spray gun!

After spending about an hour resanding(with help from my brother, who was just here for a couple days on his way through to Canada-Thanks Ben!), I taped off the chair to cover the webbing and springs. Here it's ready for the first coat.

I used Rustoleum Flat Protective Enamel in white, left over from a previous project, and started with a light first coat. 

Ideally, you should spray light, even layers to prevent drips. It's so tempting to spray until it's covered, but try hard not to. Paint will run, you'll have a drippy mess and find yourself sanding all over again! Another coat or two should be all we need here.

I'm hoping the matte finish will help modernize this curvy chair and also hide some of the frame's small imperfections. Glossy paint would only highlight the few dents and dings that didn't come out with sanding. We'll see if my trick works. Crossing my fingers it does!

As soon as the final coat of paint is dry, I'll be giving this chair fresh, new fabric. No more blah, peach colored satin!

Friday, February 08, 2013

something to try!

Have you ever used these before?

If you've caught on to the chalkboard trend, you may want to pick up a pack of these! The colors are awesome and the angled marker tip makes non-professional handwriting like mine look a little neater! While they're not dirt cheap, they last a long time. Back in my college days, I worked at Starbucks where we used these markers for our menu boards and were able to get a lot of mileage from them.

You can find them on Amazon, or likely your office supply store. Mine were a Christmas gift (thanks, Mom!), and I've been playing with them ever since on my mirror-turned-chalkboard.

If you don't have a chalkboard surface in your house, these work on glass or mirror as well and clean up easy too. No dust to deal with like regular chalk!

And for the few who have asked if this 4'11" lady can reach her new stacked washer and dryer, the answer is: Yes! If they were any higher, I'd be on my tip toes. They're the perfect height and I'm loving them!

Have a great weekend! I'm looking forward to mine! We're taking a break from reno work and having some fun with nieces and nephews!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Challenge or opportunity?

One of the (very few) things that made me fall in love with our once-delapidated-still-a-work-in-progress house was all the unusual angled ceilings and walls.To me, they add character that newly built homes sometimes lack. While unique, these angles and slopes can present either design challenges or design opportunites, depending how you look at them.

As the drywall is going up in the bedroom we're working on, I'm already fast-forwarding to all the possibilities that exist for our attic bedroom with all its angled walls.

Thanks to Pinterest (follow me HERE), ideas are being saved as I come across them, and I thought it'd be fun to share them with you, along with a few tips in the event that you have rooms like this in your home, too.

Option 1:
Highlight it! Make those angled walls stand out by using contrast. By treating just the end wall with wallpaper, grasscloth, an accent color or even woodboards, attention is drawn to the outline made from the angled side walls.  This is also an easy way to instantly create a focal point in the room.

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Option 2:
Tone it down! If the angles in a room are awkward, or if there are a few too many for your taste, try using just one treatment on all the walls. Choose a color or paper you love and use it on the side and end walls, and maybe even the ceiling. This can soften the lines of the room and blend in the angles a little.

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Option 3:
Change it up! Play with different materials on various surfaces. Make sure your choices are intentional or it can end up looking chaotic. Done right, this tactic makes for a unique space! Sometimes just switching things around and papering the ceilings instead of the walls makes a big statement.

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And, since we're talking about walls, ceilings and such, can we chat about bulkheads? It's sometimes hard to know where to start and stop with paint. 

When it comes to annoying and pesky bulkheads, I usually recommend painting them the same color as the wall they run along side of. If painted the ceiling color, the wall below ends up looking squat, and the bulkhead becomes an eyesore. Using the wall color helps blend things and gives the illusion of height.

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And one more thing. Avoid doing this to a room: 

The eye is immediately drawn to the white stripe on the ceiling instead of the nicer features in the room. It's distracting and would look much better if the ceiling was painted with the wall color.

The lesson here? When painting angled walls, if you're left with just a small patch of ceiling, keep painting! Don't leave it white!

Now, I'm all ears: who out there has angled walls? What have you tried? Any tips?