Living with a DIY

title shotI have been enjoying my DIY beaded wall sconces for several months now and I thought it would be interesting to share how it has been living with a DIY.  Sometimes these DIYs seem like a great idea but but over time they show their true colors.

Fortunately, I am still enjoying my wall sconces.  I use them everyday, well every night really, as they are the last things I click off each evening.  I have really enjoyed the convenience of the switch being an arms length away.  I simply have to reach over and switch them off.  They provide just the right amount of light for reading before going to bed, not too bright, and not too dark.  Originally, I worried that the clear glass would mean too bright of a light to read by, but I ended up using an Edison vintage style bulb that is a lower wattage and has a bit of a darker tint to it.  So with the new bulb it is an easy light to read by at night.

Another worry I had with these was that since they are basically only held to the wall with one screw I thought that when I went to turn them off that they would move around and become all wonky.  Thankfully that hasn’t happened.

120

So far the biggest negative with these light fixtures is that they get dusty inside and you have to use a duster to get inside to clean them up.  Other than that I really like the look of them.  The clear glass and wooden beads give them a trendy feel but since they aren’t store-bought they have their own original look.

So all in all this is a DIY I can live with!  Do you have any DIYs you love?  Or do you have some that just didn’t measure up? Let me know!

Hello, Gorgeous!

Hi, everyone! This is just a quick update to share my new favorite thing around the house. We finally replaced the horrible faucet in our kitchen. Here it is in all of it’s formerly nasty glory.

Old Faucet

Aaack! I can’t believe we’ve owned our house for six years and I put up with that thing for so long. It really was the cheapest of it’s type that you can buy. The finish under the handles was so corroded that it was impossible to keep clean. Not to mention how inconvenient the two handles are when you have greasy, gooey hands.

Look at my new faucet.

New Faucet

It’s the Delta Lewiston in chrome. Isn’t it gorgeous? First of all, I love that it’s the single lever style, which is so much easier to use. I really like that I can pull the sprayer out of the spout and there are two spray options. We used the old sprayer hole for the soap dispenser that came with the faucet. Neato! Improving the little things that you use every day can make your home so much more pleasant. Don’t you agree?

 

Year Two In Review

I suddenly realized the other night that the two year anniversary of living in our house had passed a couple of weeks ago. I owe y’all another Year-In-Review post, just like the one I did last year. At the end of that post I hoped we would get the popcorn ceilings removed and walls painted in the rest of the house. Guess what? We did it!

hallway before and after

Technically, the central hallway of our house did have the popcorn ceilings removed and walls painted, but I added the gallery wall and rug in year two. Since this after photo was taken, we also changed out all of the brass door hardware with oil rubbed bronze.

Office collage

We took the popcorn ceiling down in the office, but kept the wall color the same, so the change wasn’t as dramatic. We basically went from totally disorganized to slightly more organized. There is lots of work left to do in this room.

Guest Bedroom Collage

We tackled the guest room before the other bedrooms. We figured it would be good to do that room first, then we slept there when working on the other bedrooms. As you can see, this room still has a long way to go. We plan on using this room for a second TV and kid hang out room. It will also house all of my craft and décor supplies.

Josh's Bedroom Collage

Josh’s room changed the most of any in the house. His room evolved like this over the course of the year. I didn’t get to paint the stripes on he wall until a few months after we did the ceiling and walls. I added the new curtains at about the same time as the stripes. He wasn’t happy with all of the orange, so I had to change the largest orange stripe to a blue stripe. It’s always in the details, isn’t it?

Laundry Room Collage

The laundry room was freshened up with one of my favorite colors and a new rug. I still need to paint the door to the garage.

Living room 1

The living room was a huge job thanks to that vaulted ceiling. I was so glad to see the yellow go and ugly ceiling fan go. I hope we can add more furniture and pretty pillows this year.

Before and After

The last beige room was finally tackled this summer. I love the new brown walls more than I can say. I hope to sew new curtains and nicer decorative pillows this year.

So that is the end of year two. All of the popcorn ceilings are gone. All of the walls are painted. All of the brass door hardware has been replaced. All of the light fixtures have been replaced, except for the ceiling fan in the guest bedroom. I’ll get to that soon, I hope. I’m so looking forward to actual decorating and craft projects this year. Our days of drywall dust are done!

A Few Words About San Francisco Real Estate

Every once in a while my husband threatens to find a job in the San Francisco Bay Area. I say threaten because for a Midwesterner like me, the San Francisco is insanely expensive and while I’m a liberal at heart, maybe the whole area is just a little too far West for me. Well, a few weeks ago we finally went to San Francisco mostly for vacation, but the trip was also part reconnaissance mission. What is San Francisco real estate like? Would the lifestyle be a good fit for us?

Here are a few pictures and my thoughts of our San Francisco experience (I took the pictures with my phone and I only cropped the images).

Alcatraz building

Bay views are essential and apparently a roof will cost you extra.

living roof top

Environmentally conscientious Californians like a “living roof”. This one made me think I was in The Shire.

crooked driveway

Street parking is tricky and there are always tourists to deal with.

sculpture

Curb appeal is important, so some sort of quirky sculpture is recommended.

gates

Gates will keep the tourists farther away, but it won’t stop them from taking pictures. In fact, it just makes them wonder even more about what is inside.

no trespassing

If you cover the side of your building in a beautiful flowering vine you must, absolutely must, post a No Trespassing sign to keep tourists from getting any closer.

jail cell

Efficiency apartments are super tiny and only rented to arts and crafters.

skulls

One animal skull on the wall isn’t enough.

toilet fountain

The plumbing is confusing.

jail shower

The trend toward larger showers with multiple shower heads has gotten extreme.

hanger chandelier

Bay Area homeowners are so broke, they’ve resorted to making their own chandeliers.

family portrait

Some selfies are under the influence of psychedelic drugs.

lily pond

Your backyard pond must have lily pads.

pagoda

Don’t forget the pagoda.

painted ladies facelift

The postcard perfect Painted Ladies are not always camera ready and need a face-lift every now and then.

zen garden

Everyone has their own private Zen garden.

There you have it. While I doubt we’ll be moving there any time soon, hopefully I’ve given you some inspiration on how to live like a San Franciscan. For now, I’m grateful for the roof over my head and that I don’t have to park on Lombard St.

Bye-Bye Beige!

We are quickly approaching our two year anniversary of moving back into our house and guess what? After owning our home for six years, we have finally gotten around to painting the master bedroom! Sound the trumpets and hear the choirs sing! Here is the before picture complete with the lovely pink tone beige color that was in every room of the house when we bought it.

Master Before

Note the ugly brass hardware, ceiling fan and popcorn ceilings. Bleh. Here is the after.

Master After

Bye-bye beige and hello beautiful brown! For some reason I love dark brown in the bedroom. The last house we owned, I painted the master with a very similar color. Just like every room we’ve done before, we removed the popcorn ceiling, replaced the ugly light fixture and changed out the door hardware. That is all we did and I think it is a huge improvement. I just love what the more dramatic color does for this room. I think the room can handle the dark color thanks to the high ceiling and all of the light we get from the two west-facing windows.

different angle

Since I’m done with ceilings and painting this house, I look forward to lots of fun projects in the coming months including new curtains for this room and new decorative pillows for the bed. I’d like to change out these curtains for something less sheer, but still light in color, probably a white linen. I still like the idea of colorful pillows to coordinate with just about the only artwork I have in the room, the print on the left side wall.

artwork

These are Cathy Nichols prints I purchased from her Etsy shop. Since she no longer has the Etsy shop, you have to go through a Los Angeles gallery to purchase her work. Darn it! I like how the bright colors look against the dark wall.

bedside table

Another project that I might try is resurfacing the glass lamps. I don’t know how this happens, but the inside of the glass has gotten dirty and as far as I can tell, there is no way for me to clean it. I don’t get it. A possible solution is to frost the glass, or apply some sort of glass texture.

tall wall

This tall wall is a big blank. I have two large canvases that I might try to paint with colors that coordinate with the Cathy Nichols prints. I’m also thinking the dresser should have a tall funky lamp sitting on the left side and then I’ll slide in a comfy chair in the left corner for a nice reading nook. Maybe I’ll place a large round basket filled with throw blankets to the right of the dresser.

Before and After

So, we’ve cozied up the bedroom with a beautiful brown color. I can’t wait to add some decorative touches. What color do you like to paint your bedroom? Do you prefer dramatic colors or maybe something serene? Maybe both, like my chocolate brown?

In my next post I plan to share some pictures from our recent trip to San Francisco. See you then!

 

 

Elbow Grease

I’ve been working on the my house. Really, I have! Sometimes it doesn’t feel like I’m accomplishing much around here if I don’t share it with y’all, but what I’ve been working on lately doesn’t make for the best before/after pictures.

I recently cleaned our windows and I don’t mean the glass. I mean the gross parts like the trim and tracks. Our windows slide open like sliding doors and they’re a real pain to clean.

window

I didn’t take a before picture and you should thank me for that. Some tracks were full of bug bits. I’m guessing no one else had thought to clean this part of the windows since the house was built back in 2002, twelve years of dirt. I’ve got a strong stomach and I just about gagged a couple of times.

I also weeded our plant beds, again and spread new pinestraw mulch.

Our kitchen floor was looking too shabby to be chic, so I caved-in and bought a super-duper chemical grout cleaner.

Grout cleaner

I think it’s diluted hydrochloric acid. A little acid will always melt away your problems, won’t it? Ahem . . . so after I worked up the courage to actually open the bottle, I got down on my hands and knees with a toothbrush. I was certain the chemical would work like a charm when it bubbled, no, fizzed on contact with the grout. Once the fizz fizzled out, I realized elbow grease was required too. Dang it. It took a few tiles for me to get my technique perfected.

kitchen floor

The left side is before and the right side is after. I found it best to let the solution sit on the grout for a few minutes, then add more solution to the grout line with my toothbrush just as I began to scrub, scrub, scrub. It seemed like it cleaned more effectively if you scrubbed while it fizzed.

The brass door knobs throughout our house had finally outstayed their welcome, so I pulled the trigger on my Amazon wish list. Hardware for an entire house of doors weighs a lot! I’m glad I was home when the UPS guy delivered so he could set the boxes down inside the house. I decided to go with the Kwikset Ashfield Venetian bronze lever style door knob.

door knobs

The lever style is more expensive than a knob, but I think it’s worth it so I won’t be stuck in the bathroom with freshly applied lotion on my hands. I’ve heard folks with arthritis appreciate the lever style too. Changing out the handles isn’t too hard to do. Although, if your doors need painting, when you change out the hardware would be a really good time to do that. I’m in a hurry, so I’m just sanding down any rough spots of paint before I put on the new hardware.

Okay, so that is what I’ve been up to these last few weeks. Next week I’ll share our master bedroom redo. It was the last room with a popcorn ceiling in the house. Yahoo! Until next time, friends!

Try, try, try….

 

Ok, so I have really been wanting to sew my daughter a raglan style t-shirt and so I found instructions for a DIY pattern.  It sounded easy enough and made sense so I gave it a go.

ruffleshirt2

Above were my first three attempts.  These were all made using the DIY instructions.  The first one was comically small.  My daughter reassured me that she could use it for her American Girl Doll!  Hee-hee. Also, I placed the pattern on the main fabric upside down. It could go either way but I wanted it going the other direction so it look more like a banner and less like triangles.

For the second attempt I made it bigger, but then the neck was way too big!

My third attempt was better but the neckline still had issues and the shirt looked wonky in general.  Also, I had trouble getting the hem right for the sleeves and bottom of the t- shirt.

This was my 4th try.  This time I decided I needed an actual pattern so I purchased and downloaded this one.

May 2014 270

This helped a lot! The neckline is much better and no more general wonkiness. I was also really happy with my top-stitching of the neckline and my double needle skills on the sleeve hem.May 2014 269

One thing I learned when working on this project was that it’s best to not try to sew the entire shirt with the serger.  Especially under the arms with the serger knife down.  I kept making big holes on the underarms.  Sometimes I think in curved areas like that it is best to sew the seam on a regular sewing machine first and then go back with the serger.  Preferably not with the knife down!

Two things that I’ve learned that have helped me to improve my sewing are:

1- try, try, try again

and

2- slow down!

I think the things that made this shirt look better each time I sewed had less to do with garment construction and more to do with getting the details right.

Taking my time when top-stitching really seamed to improve the look of the garment.

I could also add a third item

3 – Press, press, press … with the iron.
Pressing the seams,even on knits, or I should say, especially on knits, really made the shirt look less hand made.

Keeping these items in mind while sewing really helped me to improve the look of the fifth version.

 

chevront-shirt

The best part was that this one turned out well enough for my daughter to actually wear this to school. I was so happy with these results that I decided that I needed to make one more attempt using this ruffled fabric and here are the results.

ruffleshirt1

A fun shirt we both like.  Sometimes on the internet I feel like all we ever see is the happy final product without all the mess ups. I needed this reminder that it doesn’t always end up perfect the first time.

So have you been working on improving some of your skills lately?  Do you find failure the key to success?
Apparently, I do!