August 31, 2011

Helicopter Gardener

I feel like I spend a lot of time apologizing on this blog. As in, “Oops, I guess that project is going to take a lot longer than I thought—sorry!” So, what’s up with me and mine lately? You guessed it. Still working on the paint project. Due to a wee mix-up with the paint (uh, namely painting everything in primer AGAIN by accident and having to go back over it) we’re a little behind schedule. And I would say that it should be done by tomorrow, but I think I’m going to make it a point not to, just to see if that helps it get done faster (here’s hoping!).
However, I’ll suffer blogger’s guilt if I don’t post something today, so here’s a truly pathetic little introduction to my collection of houseplants (yes, I am that short on material right now).

I’ve always loved the idea of houseplants. Whenever I walk into someone’s home and see their lush green leaves and pretty little flowers peeking out from pots and planters, I always feel the urge to go to the nearest gardening store and pick out some for myself. However, I’ve long since learned that this urge is one that it’s usually best not to follow. You see, I don’t just have a black thumb, I have black arms clear up to the elbow. I have killed numerous African violets, a handful of adorable potted ivies, and more cacti than I care to mention (rest in peace Little Old Man, Jadis, Prickles, Elmer…and all of your unnamed but not forgotten friends).
However, I’ve recently decided (after reading a few smug articles online that claim “ANYONE can take care of a houseplant, it’s just so EASY”) to give it another try. It all started with a spiral bamboo that I picked up at Ikea. Well, I’m going to be honest, I didn’t so much pick it out for myself as buy it so Mom would quit pestering me about how pretty it was (sorry, Mom). Oddly though, it ended up being the hardiest plant I’ve ever had (and thanks, Mom!) and has thrived for two long years from its location in an old wine bottle on window between the kitchen and the living room. Window? There’s no window in your house, you say. Well, I say that it thrived there because it did…but once we moved to the new house it sadly went from this:

To this:

So sad. You see, I moved it to a spot where it ended up receiving too much sun and that resulted in all of its leaves turning pale yellow and drooping pathetically from the stalk. So, in an effort to save the main portion of the bamboo, I amputated its previously-lovely-emerald-green leaves. Neither one of us has recovered fully from the operation yet and (I’m gonna be honest) we’re both still a little shook up about the whole ordeal.
However, I am proud to say that I have managed to keep a grand total of five other plants alive and mostly-happy for several months now! Well, I’ve had one for several months anyway. The others have been around significantly shorter periods of time. Anyhow, here they are:

From the left side, working around from the back and towards the front again: Horton the croton, Lucky the bamboo, Basil…uh, the basil (very original, I know—but he was a present from Julie and I’ve only had him for about a week, I just need more time to think of something nice!), Buddha the pine, Spongebob the pineapple tillandsia, and Spidey the alien-looking tillandsia (I don’t know the real name, sorry).
These are the houseplants that have escaped being murdered by me, but only because I watch them like a hawk and am constantly prodding the soil in their pots to test for dampness. Thus my lame-o title, “Helicopter Gardener.” You know? Like a helicopter parent? You know? Ugh! Never mind. I know it was lame.
Anyhow, since I’ve become an obsessive houseplant caretaker, I’ve noticed that weird thoughts will pop into my brain, like: Gosh, I hope that powdered cinnamon clears up poor Buddha’s mold problem, and I wish I could get them all on the same schedule. For watering. That’s how bad it’s gotten. I actually said that one out loud and Denny checked my forehead to make sure I wasn’t running a temperature. Because surely a normal person wouldn’t talk about her houseplants as if they were children that needed to be kept on a strict feeding and napping schedule (oh, God! I haven’t been giving them naps! What a terrible parent…er, gardener, I am!). Is it possible to turn into a crazy plant lady? Kind of like a crazy cat lady, only instead of a dozen mewing felines swarming around my slipper-encased feet, I’ll not be able to see out my windows for the plants blocking them, walking around with pellets of plant food in my pocket, visiting each one? I can just see it now…Here, planty, planty, planty…Mummy has a treatsy for you!
Ugh. I have a feeling I should have stuck to my black arms instead of attempting to grow some green thumbs. The effort seems to have unhinged me slightly…Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some watering to do.
PS: Denny thinks Basil smells like old lettuce. He has removed him from the kitchen to the garage. I am, needless to say, deeply offended. I am also in a state of near panic as to where to put him now. Blarg. -A

August 30, 2011

Cabinetry Carnage

As you probably guessed by yesterday’s “preview” snapshot, I spent a good part of my weekend attempting to paint the insides of all of our kitchen cabinets. Well, I guess it wasn’t really all of them, because upon taking all of the doors off and displacing all of the contents of the cupboards, I realized that I simply didn’t have enough time or room to do the whole thing at once. Surprise, surprise, the whole thing ended up being way more work than I anticipated.
Anyway, as I’ve already mentioned, on Thursday evening Denny and I went shopping at Lowe’s, where we picked up some basic supplies for my painting project. Our shopping list included primer, paint, some masking tape, and a few paint trays. I had brushes at the house (uh, actually just one brush, silly me) and Denny thought it would be no problem to just use a chair for reaching higher-up spots, so we skipped out on buying a step ladder (spoiler alert: mistake).

[Sidenote: I thought I had heard somewhere that Kilz brand primer was a good selection, but in hindsight I should used tried Zinnsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3, which I’ve since read is a good choice for even hard-to-prime laminate surfaces.
And, I’m just going say it, I think we made a mistake in choosing the Olympic FastHide pre-mixed paint, which we picked up largely because we were in a hurry and wanted something cheap. However, it wasn’t the best choice we could’ve made, as the consistency was pretty thin and it really wasn’t very “hide-y” at all.]
So far I’ve devoted an entire two days and two nights to this project, which started Friday after I got home from work. First, I got out a screwdriver and began to remove all the doors from the kitchen. This turned into a massive pain in the arse, since I couldn’t simply remove the doors from the hinges, but instead had to remove all of the hinges from the cabinetry itself. That doesn’t sound like a huge difference, but trust me when I say: Holy crap, is it ever. Basically it meant the difference between two screws versus (in some spots) up to four screws. PER HINGE. And since some screws were practically impossible to get to (due to being screwed in crooked or located around shadowy corners) there were some instances where I ended up breaking out the old dental assisting skills, using a mirror, extra bright lighting, and a steady fulcrum in order to get the job done.

Like so (I apologize for the awkward lighting by the way; some of these pictures were taken at night and the combination of bad lighting and ugly yellow-cream cabinets made a really gruesome effect which somehow cannot be corrected with even the most sophisticated of photo editing software). Finally, after many (and I do mean MANY) hours of crouching in corners (or, equally bad, balancing on wobbly dining chairs) undoing wonky screws and supporting mostly dismantled doors on one foot, while unscrewing the rest of it in poor lighting and cramped conditions, I finally got the whole thing to look like this (by the way, removing cabinet doors: definitely a two person job!):



Uh, yeah. That last one is of the underside of our sink. I’m pretty sure I’ve never looked under there before, because if I had, I’m not entirely confident that I would have agreed to buy this house. Seriously, are you seeing what I’m seeing? 1970s brown particle board (which is the equivalent of a stiff, dirty sponge, by the way) and peely orange contact paper. I almost gave up when I saw that, thinking that I should maybe focus my efforts on demolishing the kitchen instead of painting it. But (after a restorative drinkypoo) I bolstered up my courage and proceeded to rip out that nasty paper, then launched into the massive job of masking off all the edges of every single (insert bad word here) cabinet.
By that point it was way WAY past my bedtime and so I showered my grubby self off then went to bed, waking up early(ish) the next morning in order to make a quick run to Lowe’s for some necessary supplies (like a stepladder, which I am now completely enamored with and affectionately call “Steppy”—that’s how much of a difference it made). I also ended up swinging by Ross while I was in the neighborhood and then also to JoAnn’s, which was not in the neighborhood but was calling to me nonetheless (more details on those shopping excursions coming tomorrow).
So, armed with Steppy and high with the satisfaction of having scored some major deals, I began priming away. I painted all. through. the. day. I painted for so long that I was able to watch “You’ve Got Mail” and “Dirty Dancing” (both on my laptop in the kitchen), as well as listen to a full CD of FooFighters, 30 tracks of Kenny Chesney, and every single song Garth Brooks has ever recorded.



It was a long, weird, productive day, as you can see (that last picture is just a demonstration of how even a single coat of primer made all the difference, in case you were wondering). At around 11 o’clock, I realized that the only thing I’d eaten all day was coffee, so I made myself a TV dinner and then finished up what I was doing before carting my tired carcass off to bed. WHERE I was awoken at 3-frickin-AM with my right arm hurting so bad that I had to get back up, take a handful of aspirin, and read Harry Potter until it kicked in and I was able to go back to sleep.
Ug. It makes me tired just writing about it. Which I guess is a good thing for you, because I’ve now reached my self-imposed thousand word limit for this post and by all account should be wrapping things up. I will be back tomorrow with the rest of this little (GIGANTIC) painting adventure and the results of so much hard work. Until then, peace out!

August 29, 2011

Oh, Deer!

Last week I had mentioned that in addition to doing mood boards for the rest of my rooms, I hoped that I would eventually get a chance to whip up a little something for others. Well, I’m pleased to say that day has come much sooner than expected!
A few weeks ago, I went to visit my friend Amanda’s new abode (does nearly a year still count as new—I know, I’m a terrible friend for not visiting MUCH sooner). During that time, she made a comment, while giving me the grand tour, that she really should eventually get around to hanging up some art or something in the living room and maybe painting the walls. I, of course, jumped right on board and (practically jumping up and down with excitement) squealed, “Ooooooh! Let me help! We could do this and THIS and that and OMG-it-would-be-awesome to put up so-and-so!”
Ok. Maybe I wasn’t quite that bad, but it did get me thinking. I began doing a little bit of research with her particular style in mind and all of a sudden I was pinning pillows and baskets and cardboard deer to a board set up specifically for her. So, I went ahead and called her up and asked her if she still wanted help working on a design for her living room and she (lovely girl) said yes, she’d like that!
Now, in addition to trying to figure out what the heck to do with my own house, I’m also having a blast (getting distracted and) figuring out what to do with her house. :) Lucky for me, though, she puts up with it and is even kind enough to plan on letting me invade her home in a couple of weekends in order to play interior decorator.
Here’s what I’ve come up with while cruising the net, all the while keeping in mind Amanda’s earthy-funky-hip-low-maintenance-doggy-parent M.O.
I originally had in mind a soothing green scheme for Amanda’s living room, but as her husband said immediately upon hearing that idea: “I will not have the EVIL color in OUR HOUSE!” (For those who don’t know, Kelly is a HUGE OSU fan, which of course makes him an enemy to The-University-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named, whose mascot rhymes with a bad word. You know which one I’m talking about…)
So I immediately began thinking about different color schemes and it didn’t take a whole lot of brains to decide that orange might be a better choice for these two Beaver-Believers.  This is the room that I found the most inspiring:

I ran it by Amanda and she agrees that it’s quite the quirky little beauty. She’s even a fan of the grey walls (so much that she and Kelly ran out immediately to buy grey paint samples—they’re going to get it all done before I show up to help with the finishing touches)! So, having got the go-ahead, I made up this mood board for my wonderful friend and her green-hating husband.

1. As usual, I flitted over to Design-Seeds to find a color palette that would fit. There were a lot of palettes featuring orange, but many of them also included the bad-G-color in them, as well. This one I liked because it had multiple shades of orange and a couple of shades of grey (you know, the good-G-color).
2. One of the things that I like about Amanda’s living room (and her whole house, in fact) is that it has lovely hardwood floors. However, I thought that adding an area rug to the living room would not only break up the expanse of hardwood (um…), but also anchor all the furniture together, creating a cohesive look. I chose this subtly colored rug partially because it was a nice neutral with a pleasing pattern (not too bold and not too boring), but also because it’s indoor-outdoor quality, which I think will hold up better against the pitter-patter of (not-so) little feet (have I mentioned that Amanda has two dogs—one of which is possibly part Great Dane—as well two cats? They’re her adorably furry children.)
3. Now, you may have noticed that in the inspiration room, there’s a large, floor-to-ceiling, painted-white fireplace. Well, Amanda has one that is actually very similar to that and (call me crazy) I just love what they did to break up the expanse of white brick. The orange background and framed porcelain deer head is muy odd and oddly chic, but have you seen how much porcelain animal heads cost? Try something like $300 for one that’s about 12”x16” (is it super dorky that I know that off the top of my head?). Anyway, I know I can do better than that. I found this little guy online for under $30, and while they offer it in white, I think that traditional brown will look lovely with the other natural colors in the living room, not to mention the orange accents.
4. I couldn’t resist throwing in a little puppy fashion in the pillow department. It’s like a grown-up (and way less annoying) version of those tacky pillow pets.
5. I know it seems like a lot of brown, however I chose this camel color throw not only to provide warmth in the upcoming autumn months, but also because I think it will look outstanding thrown over the arm of Amanda and Kelly’s deep brown couch (part of the room that absolutely has to stay for the time being).
6. When I asked Amanda what she wished she had more or less of in her living room, she mentioned that there’s not any overhead light in that area and that they’re making do with a floor lamp that they’re not so crazy about right now. Well, I’m a huge fan of the giant paper lantern (as Denny will tell you—each of our apartments has had one and I have plans to hang some in our bedroom soonish). I think a couple of these in varying sizes, hung in the corner, will add light and charm to the room.
7. She also mentioned that they have a lot of electronic stuff (which I knew, seeing as I’ve met Kelly once or twice before—that was sarcasm btw) and quite the assortment of dog toys (likewise, having known Amanda for more than three seconds—try closer to…12 years? Holy crap!). However, they have hardly any storage for them, so I picked out a couple of natural baskets in varying sizes and shades, which ought to do the trick when it comes time to corral them all.
8. And, lastly, I suggested to Amanda that instead of the lonely chair they currently have sitting next to the fireplace (it’s a little out of the furniture cluster), she should create a “command center.” I don’t know if that’s an actual term or if I just created it, but it’s what I call that space where you toss your keys, sort your mail, and put things that you need to remember to grab before you run out the door to conquer the world. These custom-covered magazine holders can help facilitate an orderly command center and are pretty darn cute, as well.
Holy crap! Over a thousand words on anti-Duck sentiment, cardboard deer, and being a pushy friend with delusions of design grandeur! Please accept my apologies. I hope you’re not too burned out on the look though, because I have serious plans to report back in a few weeks with some before and after photos, as well as the secrets to our DIY look. And until then, here’s the…
Product Breakdown:
Inspiration room by Judith Balis from HGTV
Design-Seeds color palette
4x6 Indoor/Outdoor Concentric Diamond Rug in Khaki and White from Shades of Light - $134
Medium Buck Jr. in Brown from Cardboard Safari - $28
Fuzzy Camel Throw from Pier 1 - $36
Hanging Paper Lanterns from Pier 1 - $6 & $9
Waterhyacinth Baskets with Handles from Pier 1 $12 & $29
Magazine Holder Inspiration from Aparment Therapy

Step It Up

Wow! This weekend was super productive. Denny went to the lake for the weekend with some friends, so on Thursday night we went to Lowe’s and Safeway to stock up on home improvement supplies and frozen dinners so I wouldn’t die of boredom or starvation (he definitely knows the key to my heart, that’s for sure).
Since he left mid-day, I came home from work on Friday, fueled up on a Marie Calendar’s dinner, and promptly launched into the first project (which is still in progress but which I should have a post on by Wednesday). Here’s a little hint on what it is…

You can probably guess what the photo means, but I’m going to decline to comment on it until it’s completely finished. You heard me! So don’t even ask! ;)
The project that I did finish this weekend only took around 10 minutes surprisingly (I say “surprisingly” because thus far, all of my projects I’ve expected to take a couple hours at most have actually taken a week at least—I guess I’m just backwards when it comes to estimating time). It all started…well, I guess it all started right away when we moved in. Because right from the beginning, our front step has looked like this:

Yeah. Not very inspiring, I know. It’s not only sort of strange (with it not having any stoop to speak of directly before the door), but it’s also just so freakin’ bland. My eyes can barely process that many shades of grey. If the dead leaves weren’t there (and they won’t be for much longer—we’re planning to cut down the tree that sheds them ALL-YEAR-ROUND-apparently), I would think that this picture was done in black and white.
So, I began thinking of ways to spruce it up a little bit. My first thought was to paint the front door (and I still plan to do that eventually), but until I can decide on a color, I needed an interim plan. A pot of mums for fall? Sounds nice, but still not enough. Aha! How about lining the steps with some skinny mats? Well, that plan sounded fine and dandy, but all the doormats that are designed to be put on stair treads are (you guessed it) black. Now, since that doesn’t exactly help my cause, I thought to myself, Why not just chop up a couple of regular sized ones?
When I mentioned my plan to Denny, he looked super skeptical. He thought for sure it would be hideous, but (as usual) he saw the determined look on my face, elected not to fight that battle, and said to me, “Sure, honey. Whatever you say.” Probably thinking in his head the whole time that if it did turn out terrible he could just toss them in the trash and we’d only be out a grand total of $15.
So, this weekend I made a second trip to Lowe’s and picked up a couple of brightly colored doormats and a utility knife to hack them into pieces with.

I went into the garage (where I was less likely to accidentally chop giant holes in the carpet) and used a tape to measure the halfway point, which I marked out with a chalk pen (I tried a Sharpie at first, but it wouldn’t show up— what a shocker, I know). I used a piece of cardboard to keep my line nice and straight.

The next step took approximately five minutes. I simply ran my utility knife down the line twice on the back, then flipped the mat and made sure the cut had gone completely through the front portions, as well. (Like my paint hands, by the way? Another manicure bites the dust.)
Uh, yeah. And then I was done. I took my mats out front and threw them down (alright, I swept up the front step a little bit, too—go ahead and add another 15 seconds onto the total time tally if you must) and my front step went from “blah” to “be-you-tee-full”!


Sorry about the weird lighting, by the way, but with the way our house is oriented it pretty much always has that odd shadow there. So, what do you think? Do you like it? I’m pretty much in love with it. And Denny is, too! I was so happy when he gave it his stamp of approval (and it was an “awesome” stamp, too, not just a “passable, I can live with it” stamp! I mean, he smiled and everything!). It’s been a good weekend for projects, let me tell you. I can’t wait to report back later this week and show you the huge project that I undertook this weekend. It makes all the difference in the kitchen…hint, hint! :)
PS: And, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about Moody Mondays. I’ll be back in a couple of hours with my very first guest mood board! Stay tuned! -A

August 26, 2011

Happiness Is...Discount Hardware

When Denny and I first decided that we wanted to buy our house, I began doing extremely silly things. Like buying cabinet hardware. Yeah. Never mind that we didn’t (and still don’t) have things like…oh, you know, a full-sized couch? A guest bed? Any grown-up furniture to speak of, essentially? No, I was worried about kitchen fixtures. I even went so far as to buy several different styles and put them on our apartment cabinets, just to see what they looked like.
I played around with several different styles. From rounded “bowl-style” pulls (my term, not a technical one) to oil-rubbed bronze knobs to painted ceramics to bar pulls.

I thought about each one, analyzing the consequences of each far more carefully than I did when making the decision to buy our house (ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration…but only a bit).
I eventually decided on these flattened brushed nickel, delicately arched pulls from Lowe’s. They’re about 5 inches long and they’re just modern enough and comfortable enough that I’m pretty sure I could live with them for…well, ever (I was super tempted by the bar pulls, by the way, but knew that I’d never be cool enough to pull them off…haha—I punned).
The only problem? Well, I was looking in the kitchen one day during one of our walk-throughs (we did quite a few because of all the work the bank did on our house before it officially became ours), when I began to count the doors and drawers…and there are 21 doors and 15 drawers in our kitchen! I know! Wtf, mate? Upon realizing this, I experienced two emotions: feeling excited at how blessed for space we are and pissed because do-you-know-how-much-hardware-COSTS? The pulls that I fell in love with were $5 each, before taxes (which I really am a dork to complain about, since they're much cheaper than many other styles that I liked and which are very popular right now). Are you doing the math? Because I sure as heck did. If I wanted to put that style of pulls on all the drawers and doors (and I did), it would cost nearly $200.
Now, call me cheap, but I just couldn’t do it. Especially when there are so many other things that need to be done around here (like painting, purchasing real furniture, paying the bills, and keeping my sanity). I reluctantly said goodbye to my dreams of delicately arched pulls and decided to make do with what I had (which, let me remind you, is currently no hardware at all).

Then, just as I was getting to the point of breaking down and buying some very cheap-o interim hardware, a wonderful thing happened. I was at Lowe’s (as is very usual these days) and I was sniffing hopefully around the hardware aisle when I saw the most beautiful sight I’ve ever had the pleasure of beholding (again, slight exaggeration): A yellow clearance sticker on MY hardware! Clearance, you say? How clearanced? Because, as any veteran shopper will tell you, not all clearances are created equal. Well, let me just say, this one was a doozy. They were marked down to 60% off. Yep. This, of course, resulted in the immediate purchase of a humungous stack of hardware, like so…

Aren’t they pretty? I walked away with 24 pulls for only $52. A savings of…wait for it…$67! I, obviously, was thrilled.
“But, Ashley!” you say. “You need 36 pieces!”
Well, you know, somehow I noticed that and my decision concerning that minor detail is this: either A) I’ll continue to scour all the local Lowe’s until I’ve accumulated enough hardware to outfit the whole place (looking online is a no-go because they don’t sell them there), or B) I’ll put the pulls on all the doors and buy some coordinating knobs for all the drawers. Either way, I’m totally fine with the result. Plus, now I can say once and for all, when Denny asks me (in complete exasperation), why is it necessary to visit the home improvement store on a daily basis, that good things come to those who…obsessively lurk in the hardware aisle? Hmmm. Maybe I won’t say that, after all.
PS: And for anyone wondering why I haven’t made good on my promise to show completed pics of the Moroccan window treatment I’m doing, well, let me just show you this:

No, I’m not “giving” you the finger. Just showing it to you. See that blister? Well, it turns out that hand cutting 150 or so Moroccan panels is rather more intensive than I first thought. So, that being said, I’m working on it, but don’t expect to see anything completed before the end of next week. Sorry, but that’s how the cookie crumbles (or the finger blisters…eew. That’s definitely not as good a saying…) –A
Oh, and here’s the
Product Breakdown:
Gatehouse 64mm satin Nickel Cabinet Pull from Lowe’s - $3.44 each
Gatehouse Oil-Rubbed Bronze Cabinet Knob from Lowe’s - $3.12 each
Turqouise Speckled Ceramic Cabinet Knob from Knobs and More - $18 for four

August 24, 2011

Picture This...

Alright, so I know that this may be totally lame (especially considering my also-rather-lame post yesterday), but I’m going to bore you with a little more…uh, well, I hesitate to say “art” because they’re just some pictures I took, but…here they are anyway (and holy crap, if that isn’t a run-on sentence, I don’t know what is!). This is mostly because I'm a dork and forgot to download the pics of my most recent projects from my camera, a problem I will remedy tonight. Meaning: Expect a really real post tomorrow! Huzzah! (What? You aren't familiar with "huzzah"?)
Anyway, these are some pictures I took this weekend while I was visiting my hometown in Oregon. They’re all obviously touched up and messed with, but they definitely give you the feel of what this weekend was like: bright, hot, rural, and utterly homey. In short, last weekend was perfect (oh, except for my car protesting against the bright-hot-rural-homey day and overheating, but that’s beside the point).

First, here is a 60’s style shot of my Denny’s parent’s farm. Isn’t it beautiful? I wish that I had thought to get some pictures of their garden; it really is something to see right now. I guess I just got distracted by all the yummy fruit there was to eat. Denny's dad kept picking me handfuls of strawberries and raspberries, so of course I morphed from shutterbug to sticky-handed child. The lesson of this tale? Offer me fresh fruit and I will follow you anywhere. :) 

Likewise at the farm. At one point all three cows were huddled at the fence with their noses down, but (of course) as soon as I ran to get my camera, two of them ran off. Those buggers.

After visiting for a while at the farm, I met up with my Mom and we went to this farmer’s market on our way to town. This old barn was restored a few years ago and now (in addition to hopefully being much safer to be inside) is a pretty sight to see on a summer day.

Mom was the one to point out this particular photo-op and what a lovely one it turned out to be! As Denny will be quick to tell you, it’s next-to-impossible for me to pass up a few macro-focus pics of flowers. I’ve pretty well branded myself as the “close-up flower lady” in his eyes.

And this last one I snapped as we were heading out the door of the barn, arms loaded down with fresh zucchini and a few bags of dried gourds (more on that project later). It struck me just how old-fashioned this scene looked, as if the photograph could have been taken decades ago.
Anyway, that’s my weekend for you. Rather countrified, but what can I say? I guess, deep down, I’m just a country girl at heart.
PS: In case you’re interested in checking out any more of my pictures, I’ve created a 21 House flickr page, found here. I’ll be adding any extra photos I have on hand to that periodically. Now, for real: tootles all! -A

August 23, 2011

Eye-Candy

I have a confession to make.
I am an art-aholic. I have more prints, cards, photos, and originals than I have ever been able to find room for. I can barely walk into a store without picking something up. And, on top of all that, I have my own collection of works in progress. Dozens of pounds of yarn waiting to be crocheted, stacks of blank canvas, planks of wood I have plans for, gourds that need to be sanded and painted (yes, I said “gourds”)…the list goes on and on. My obsession was bad enough pre-internet (yes, I’ve been an art pack-rat for that long), but now that there’s Etsy and Pinterest to fuel my desire, well, let’s just say that my habit can get a little out of control at times.
So, in the spirit of all the works of art I have and the countless others that I wish I had, I thought I’d share with you some pieces that tickle my fancy, as well as how I would incorporate them into a room (if I had, ya know, a sixty room mansion instead of a modest-sized tri-level).

1. Ok, so I am by no means a cat-person, however, this utterly-cranky-looking feline caught my eye right away. You can just tell that this is HIS CHAIR and he will NOT BE MOVED. Basically, it cracked me up. And (as you can tell) I am not an art snob; I don’t think an image has to be particularly deep or serious to be considered art. As long as it invokes some sort of emotion in you and you like it (note those key words, please), I think that’s enough to qualify it as a piece of art.
As for where I would put something like this, I think it would look cute in a small lacquered frame (maybe in black or aqua) on an end table next to a reading chair. Although I’m not sure it’d be a particularly relaxing experience trying to read in the presence of those condemning yellow eyes, it would nonetheless be very fitting (and amusing…for me, at least). J
2. I couldn’t resist including these brightly colored prints done on vintage book pages (which I’m sure surprises no one). Maybe it’s a little boring of me, but I’m a sucker for anything that has rich tones (especially blue ones, as you’ll see) and includes so much as hint of the written word. I think these prints (which come in a set) would love lovely framed in basic black frames and hung in a bedroom, maybe in a line over the headboard.
3. Um…I’m sensing a theme here, aren’t you? Yeah, well, what can I say? Trees inspire me. It’s one of the main reasons I fell in love with our house (which is so covered in trees you can hardly see it from the road). This painting is a HUGE original that could pretty much stand alone in any room devoid of all other art. I think it makes that much of a statement. Hang it on any wall and…BAM! You’ve got instant style.
4. This print reminds me of the way the trees look on Mt. Hood, where it’s so cold that the limbs are permanently frosted, despite the sun shining on them. Although you could definitely display this year-round, I’m envisioning it framed in white and set on a mantle during the winter, maybe next to a hurricane glass filled with pinecones or some long white tapers.

1. This piece is also an original (and, at only $70, quite a steal). There’s something so sweet and yet a little eerie about it, which is right up my alley. You could hang it almost anywhere, I think, although I would probably put it somewhere I wanted to go to feel inspired and relaxed. Maybe in a home office or at a writing desk. It would be a pleasant reminder to take a quiet moment to enjoy the simple things in life, like a stolen kiss under a streetlight.
2. This funky photograph is so girly and random. It just makes me smile for some reason. Maybe it’s because I have a soft spot for chickens (particularly banties) or maybe it’s the vintage dress and turquoise hat (why doesn’t anyone wear fancy hats anymore?). In any case, I can so see it in a brightly colored, retro kitchen. Clean white cabinets, sunny yellow paint, vintage dishtowels (you know, the ones with little blue flowers on the ends and maybe a yellow scalloped trim?), and a black and white checkered floor. I think these two chicks would fit in just fine.
3. I would put this playful print in any female-oriented space. Just looking at it makes me want to break out the red lipstick, throw on some vintage bangles, and head out to find an adventure. Just the right attitude for…a vanity perhaps? Yes, a vintage vanity with a cushioned stool and lots and LOTS of fun jewelry on display.
4. Now, if I were to decorate a baby’s room (and, let’s just get one thing straight: I AM NOT, repeat AM NOT), I think something like this would be just sweet. I love the colors and the simplicity and how gentle that polar bear looks with the bird perched on its massive paw (kind of a new version of lion and the lamb?). I’d decorate the whole room in this kind of aurora borealis theme, with a white furry rug, blue walls, and tons of twinkle lights. How cute would that be?
And now (just in case you find that any of these have also caught your fancy), here is the ever-present,
Product Breakdown:
"Cat on mid century chair" 8x10 Pigment Print from Olive Dear - $30
"4 Trees" set of 4x6 prints from Cookstah.etsy.com - $8
"Intertwined" 54x24 Original Abstract Contemporary Landscape from Madart - $299
"Sunrise" 8.5x9 Abstract Fine Art Print from budanArt - $18
"Autumn Kiss" Hand-Cut 11x14 Silhouette Papercut from Papercut Art by Tina Tarnoff - $70
"Hens" Original Signed 8x10 Fine Art Photograph from Heather Evans Smith Photography - $30
"Entanglement" Open Edition 7.5x9.5 Print from Janet Hill Studio - $26
"Bear & Bird" 6x8 Print from Geninne’s Art Store - $30

August 22, 2011

Harry Potter and the...Master Bathroom?

Alright. So I’ve been thinking lately (shocking, I know) about this idea I had to do some sort of themed post every week. Kind of like how YoungHouseLove gives away prizes once a week and how the HGTV blog does a Color of the Month, so I’d like to be able to give everyone something to look forward to on a regular basis (besides some stunning pictures of me weeding, or scrubbing grout, or whatever other glamorous thing I’m currently up to). Now, I’m not going to be able to give away prizes just yet (sorry; maybe someday), but since I do need to work up some more mood boards for the rest of the rooms in our house, I’ve decided to implement “Moody Mondays” (a name fitting in more ways than one)!
Every Monday from here on out (unless otherwise arranged), I will be coming out with a new mood board for another room in the house. These mood boards will always feature a product list and links to the items that inspire me, just in case you feel inspired by them, too. And, just to keep things interesting, once I get done doing all of my rooms (or maybe sooner, depending on how well this goes) I’d be more than happy to whip up a board for anyone else who wants one! I think it will be a lot of fun, not only to work on my own rooms, but also to branch out and try doing a little bit of design work for others, as well. J
So without further babble, I’m proud to introduce the very first Moody Monday Board…
My Hogwarts-themed master bathroom!
So that may not sound like the most grown-up thing in the world, but I don’t care what anyone says: the Harry Potter books are genius. They are ART. And I would be proud to have my bathroom stand as a homage to their fabulousness.
Now, before you write me off completely (or before you start getting visions of Snitch-patterned wallpaper or maybe a life-size-Dobby-replica toilet paper holder), take a minute to please remember back to last Friday, when I showed you this little teaser:
Remember that? Well, those prints are where this idea really began for me. I was inspiration scouting on (what else?) Pinterest, when I came across these very vintagey, Harry Potter inspired works of art. I loved the colors used in them, as well as the subject matter, and I immediately began thinking of a way to incorporate them into our home. Where’s a good place to display a small set of postcard-sized prints? Someplace where they’ll be able to fill up the space properly and where (let’s be honest) I won’t have to look at them ALL of the time (because, while I do love them, I don’t love them enough to hang them over my mantel, ya know?)?
Answer? Why, in the bathroom, of course!
So, having the location settled, I started looking for a some bathrooms that inspired me and could be tweaked for my new Hogwarts theme. This one was my absolute favorite:

Now that I had loads of inspiration, I began piecing together some ideas about colors, accessories, and foundation elements. I pretty quickly put together this little mood board (there’s really only so much you can put in an 8x8 bathroom, so it didn’t take too long).

1. Using the colors found in the postcards, I began searching for an acceptable color palette.
2. Design-Seeds proved it’s worth yet again, coming up with this calming palette of blues, grey-taupes, and corncob yellow.
3. I went to the Behr website and searched around a little bit longer to find this tone (called “Lion”) for the walls and this color,
4. “Pot of Cream,” for the trim. I haven't decided if I want board and batten in there or not. I'm sort of playing with the idea of doing large horizontal stripes on the walls in almost-identical shades of grey for a subtle effect, so we'll just have to see how it all plays out.
5. Our current three-paneled, red-oak medicine cabinet is hideous, so I’m thinking of replacing it with this espresso-stained, window-ledge mirror from Lowes. I think the narrowness of it will make the space look a little larger and will make room for
6. a couple of these aged-bronze vanity lights. The frosted shades will cut the glare in the bathroom and by moving them from on top of the mirror to the sides, I think the lighting will be much more natural (not to mention, flattering—which is always a bonus).
7. And, just to play around, I thought to add this little yellow toothbrush holder in the shape of a bird. I was briefly tempted to go with this owl one but thought that might be going a wee bit overboard with the whole HP theme (and that’s “Potter,” not “Packard,” for the record).
8. Lastly, I think this new theme deserves a new shower curtain. Although our semi-transparent one that we have now, keeps the shower nice and brightly lit, I think something similar to this yellow chevron one will be attractive and nearly as bright ('cause I absolutely hate washing my hair in the dark).
So, what do you think? Do you like the idea of Moody Mondays? What about my plans for the master bathroom? Am I taking it too far? Not far enough? Do you wish I would try to find a Dobby t.p. holder? I probably could, if I tried hard enough…
Product Breakdown:
Inspiration bathroom from Welcome to Heardmont 
Harry Potter Postcard set by Caroline Hadilaksono - $22
Color palette from Design-Seeds
“Lion” and “Pot of Cream” Behr Paint from Home Depot - $32 per gallon
allen + roth Palencia Espresso Bath Mirror from Lowes - $119
Victorian Wall Sconce in Venetian bronze from Home Depot - $89 each
Bird Toothbrush Holder from Urban Outfitters $9
Yellow chevron shower curtain from Maison Boutique - $130

August 19, 2011

TGIF

[Yes, that's a lame title. No, I don't care. Now, on to the post!]
I’ve noticed, as the time spent in our house grows, that there’s a distinct difference in the way that I acted when we lived in apartments, as opposed to now, living in a house we own. I’m much more aware of little things now, like how it bugs me that leaves are perpetually blown all over the front walk (the dryer vent in our last apartment blew directly onto our front step and left lint everywhere—I couldn’t have cared less) and how I’m extra careful to make sure my hands are clean when I go to adjust the brand-new, white blinds in the bedroom (I don’t think I’ve ever even noticed the condition of my hands in regards to blinds before, but this weird habit has developed just the same).
It’s not that I was careless or anything when it came to our apartments; Denny and I have always been very respectful of the places we lived and we always left them in better condition than they were when we first moved in. It’s just that now that we own our place, there’s this since of responsibility that wasn’t really there before. Maybe it’s just that I’ve realized that any repairs that need to be made will come directly from our checking account (and our spare time). Maybe it’s a sort of societal pressure to be neat and tidy neighbors. Maybe it’s simply that I’ve started putting pictures of our house online for the world to see (if that won’t convince me to change my slovenly ways, I don’t know what will).
In any case, where I was going with this whole story is: I have become slightly paranoid about being careful of the things in our house. For example, the new-to-us dining table and chairs that we got recently have been making this not-so-lovely screeching noise when you slide the chairs in and out from under the table. Now, I haven’t been able to detect any damage to the hardwood floors, but I’m convinced nonetheless that this noise can only mean bad things for our lovely floors.

So I went ahead and picked up these felt pads at Home Depot the other day, hoping that they’d put a stop to that insufferable screeching. The project was a small one, but relatively time consuming.

First, I flipped all of the chairs on their backs and sanded down the metal tacks underneath (see? I told you that wretched nail polish would be back for another guest appearance). They were so rusted that I probably should have just taken them out, but they were wedged in there pretty good and (since Denny was busy working on other things) I decided to just sand them down and see if the pads would stick to them like that.
I carefully centered the adhesive side of the pad onto the tack, like so…

And then sat back to survey the result.

Hmmmm…not so sure about that. In the first shot, they look perfectly fine. But as soon as I leaned down to inspect them further, I realized that the pads were anchored to the tack by only a small surface and, not only that, they stuck out pretty far, as well. However, I am nothing if not determined (or maybe just lazy), so I popped the rest of the pads onto the legs and flipped the chairs back over.
To give the pad adhesive some time to cure, I carefully tucked all the chairs back under the table and weighed them down with some heavy textbooks. While I was messing around under the table, taking these pictures, I looked up and kind of noticed that the underside of the table was rather ugly. I also realized that you could totally see it from the lower living room if you were facing the nook. See?

Maybe I’ll have to add some plans to paint or otherwise doctor-up that little eyesore (the walls are really not that yellow and those cords are now gone, by the way, although that box stubbornly refuses to move itself—the nerve!). We’ll see. Oh, and I also have no intention of keeping the upholstery the way it is now. Somehow, I just don’t see lilac faux-suede being a main element in our future dining room. Call me crazy.
Well, I’m pretty well in Friday mode right now, so I think that’ll have to conclude today’s post. Unless you want me to continue to jibber at you in nonsense terms. Eisktui? Blesheqyt! UgggggaawekeMAC!!
No? I didn’t think so.
Well, I hope you all enjoy your weekend! As mine is scheduled to include my favorite Chinese food, my favorite people, and hopefully a couple of new Project Runway episodes, I know that I will. ;)
Oh, one last thing: here’s a little teaser for what I have in store for next Monday!

August 18, 2011

Colorful Kitchen Inspiration

Ever since Denny and I got done fixing up the master bath somewhat (we still have plans to paint and decorate eventually), we’ve been sort of looking around and contemplating what we should tackle next. It didn’t take us long to realize that our next indoor project should definitely be revamping the kitchen.
Now, I say “revamping” instead of “remodeling” for a couple of different reasons. First, we want to spend as little on this project as humanly possible because it’s really just going to be a temporary fix until we have the time and money to redo the kitchen the way we really want it (this includes some pretty drastic measures, like relocating the fridge, tearing out all the cabinets, replacing all the appliances, doing a tile backsplash, and possibly knocking down a wall). Secondly…well, I just like anything that includes the word “vamp,” I guess. ;)
Since this project will be less permanent than a full-out remodel, I think it might just be the perfect chance to play around a little and experiment with some new concepts. Eventually I want beautiful espresso colored cabinets and an overall sleek and elegant feel for the space. So when I sat down today and started snooping around for some inspiration for our interim look, I went in the exact opposite direction and searched for something bright, funky, and somewhat offbeat. I found myself very inspired by these two kitchens in particular:

and

Hmmm…I’m seeing a common theme here, aren’t you? Yeah, those turquoise lower cabinets really caught my eye. Especially in the second kitchen, where everything else is so warm and earthy. So, going off of that thought, I got to work assembling this mood board and product breakdown.

1. I found this color palette on Design-Seeds.com. It was nearly perfect, except for the fact that it didn’t actually include any turquoise. So I simply hopped over to the Behr website and played around with their ColorSmart paint selector tool (which is actually really helpful and fun to use, by the way). I ended up deciding on this beauty…
2. “Realm.” It’s a little darker than the inspiration photos (more of a teal, actually), but I think that the effect would be quite similar when applied to the lower bank of cabinets. Since our cabinets are very, very smooth and have absolutely no design or definition to them, I think it would look particularly neat when applied in a high-gloss finish for a lacquered effect.
3. This is an example of Realm and a couple of other coordinating colors applied to a sample kitchen using the ColorSmart tool. In this shot it looks quite a bit lighter than the swatch, but I’m not sure if that’s just the effect of the tool or if the color really would be that light. In any case, I’m really digging it. (Oh! And that open shelving up top…do I dare go that far? Hmmm…)
4. After decided on a general palette and color of the cabinets, I went looking (digitally, of course) for a nice coordinating rug to go along with them. Although it’s a little more orange than the palette calls for, I think throwing that down on our hardwood floors would really bring a feeling of warmth to the room.
5. And of course, no space is complete without a collection of books. I have quite an assortment of cookbooks packed away in a box somewhere, and I can’t wait to drag them out and display them somewhere within the kitchen, bringing a little more texture and depth to the space.
6. Initially, I had picked out a Moroccan-inspired starburst pendant for this board. But once I got it all together, I could tell that the starburst just would have been too much going on. With the bright colors, potentially open shelving, and fanciful rug, I’m pretty sure it would have been the straw that broke the camel’s back (however, I’m keeping it in mind for my future sleek-espresso kitchen!). Instead,  I opted for this subtler linen-shaded light. It’s not totally “blah,” but it is much more subdued than some of the other items in the kitchen.
7. The hardware shown here is also rather simple. A subtly-arched pull and classic knob will, I think, blend in with the cabinets instead of competing with them. The only really interesting thing about them will be their placement, which will have the pulls mounted on the doors and the knobs on the drawers. It’ll be a quiet but quirky switch-up.
8. And, last but definitely not least, a cookie jar. This bright little guy just looked so cute squished between the rug and the cabinets (in the collage, not in real life) that I couldn’t resist including him. Plus, on the practical side, it would give Denny someplace to put his cookies other than in a Ziploc baggie on the counter. Oi! (Speaking of Denny, whadya wanna bet he has a stroke when he sees this color palette? I'd say the odds are pretty decent...)
Inspiration Breakdown:
Inspiration Kitchens (top) (bottom)

Color palette from Design-Seeds.com
Behr paint in Realm from Home Depot - $32 per gallon
Suzani Rug 5x8 from Z Gallerie - $635
Cookbook Image from Pimp My Cookbooks
Trellis Linen Drum Shade Pendant from Shades of Light - $149
Amerock Satin Nickel Hardware from Lowes $5-$6
Wise Ol' Cookie Jar from Anthropolgie $128