Rock-a-bye baby…

Our baby girl is due in 9 days which seems forever away right now as we go through a horrible heat wave and I feel about 1,000 months pregnant. Today begins the first day of vacation for me, though. I knew I didn’t want to work up until the last day because I’d be uncomfortable, and thankfully I had plenty of days saved up. Now begins the scramble for the finishing touches on the house but, on a positive note, my bags are packed and the nursery is done!

0814161143a_HDR

Literally. Our bags are packed! Mine is on the left, complete with a bag of snacks. On the radiator are the items that are “last minute, throw them in” like the coming home outfit, The Man’s pjs and socks, a stroller blanket from Pottery Barn that my BF from high school gave us, the quintessential nursing boppy, and a list of “grab this” items like chargers and my iPad.

The nursery was just a general use room before with a futon, all my yarn and crochet accessories, and my Oma’s steamer trunk. Well, the futon was sold and the steamer trunk and crochet paraphenalia found a new home in my office (which I’ll share another time).

IMG_20141127_095239_823

the room before

From day one, I knew that I loved the color of the room and wasn’t going to change it – it’s Valspar’s Wool Coat. It’s a beautiful, rich neutral color that lends itself to a host of complementing colors. Once we found out it was a girl, we also decided to leave the carpet which was a $25 score at an estate sale a few years ago. As I started decorating the room, I realized the carpet was limiting me more than the paint color was, but the room turned out amazing anyway. The valances were one of the first things I purchased at Lowe’s (a glimpse is in the very first pic in the post), inspired by both the carpet and the witches ball which was a gift from my sister-in-law when we first moved in our house. I’ve always loved the way the light hits the brilliant red, and figured it was a good idea to have something hanging to ward off evil.

I love all the stencils and wall decals I see on Pinterest for baby rooms, but didn’t want to repaint the room as she gets older so instead I decided wall art would be the decoration/theme, which ended up being Storybooks.

We were lucky in that we were given a crib by a friend whose daughter had just transitioned to her BGB (big girl bed) and the dresser the previous owners had left in the room had been sitting in our garage for literally 5 years, just waiting to be rehabbed. It had obviously been painted in a hurry with a brush, and the scroll details were aqua and purple – not my taste.

0228161529

dresser hell before (I had used the drawers as stands when I was painting something black…)

After a lot of sanding and many cans of spray paint for a glossy finish to match the crib (yes I used a Darth Vader-esque ventilator), the end result was nothing short of fabulous!

0814161141

The inside of the drawers even got their own special treatment – they were painted pink and lined. My mother-in-law bought us the most comfortable chair in the world (rocks AND swivels) and the matching ottoman (which is covered in a blanket The Man’s coworker made for us) from Babies R Us. The print above the chair is another nod to Storybooks – Rapunzel! I’ve had the print since I was a teenager and figured it was the perfect home for it. We also purchased the bookcase from Babies R Us. The Man put it together in less than an hour and it’s super sturdy so we’re hoping it lasts for the long haul.

0814161139

The shelves are adjustable so as she grows we can use the bookcase for storage AND books. The bins on the bottom hold toys, stuffed animals, and baby medicine essen

0815161401

sorry for the cruddy picture – stupid glare from windows

tials. The large white bin which is within arms reach when I sit down holds all the nursing essentials. And of course, she already has a book collection!

Then of course she needs somewhere to sleep. Over her crib we put three prints that her cousins got her off our registry. I found them on Etsy and used simple frames and mats from Michael’s so we can change them out over time.

It took a long time to find the perfect ones but I finally settled on a quote from Little Women, one from Anne of Green Gables, and one from Alice in Wonderland.  And because of the colors and pattern in the carpet, I also agonized over her bedding. I know, I know. The bedding doesn’t matter and they barely ever will get use out of the comforter so who cares? Well, this dork cares. I finally found  an amazing comforter from Land of Nod that is reversable and had a matching dust ruffle that I love. Add in some super soft stuffed animal friends and the sleeping area is baby ready!

We also have one more nod to Storybooks over her dresser and on it in the form of a mirror and another print from Etsy which I loved, with different Alice in Wonderland quote.

0814161141a

And that’s it! All in all, we were blessed to have furniture and be gifted furniture. It made the whole process of getting the nursery ready so much easier. The room isn’t huge so I knew we had to be practical, and I definitely wanted a room that could grow with her.

We are so very ready for this little girl to arrive happy and healthy and safely.

 

Advertisements

why you shouldn’t let me have spray paint

If I had known about spray paint as a teenager I could have gotten into so much more DIY trouble. I’m more than happy to make up with it now, though! And tis the season to spray paint!

I don’t have my “spray paint studio” set up in the garage anymore, but I was able to make due with the use of cardboard protection on the lawn (because I really don’t need multi-colored grass). What was I spray painting? Well, this year we switched out my mom’s old, tired, plastic, terracotta colored planters for new, bright, and shiny ones. Most were in okay shape structurally (nothing a little hidden duct tape couldn’t fix) but they were ridiculously faded. Solution? I take them and see how well spray paint works on them!

one of the victims

one of the victims

I had never spray painted plastic before, but I figured it can’t be that hard, right? I prepped the pots by scrubbing them with Mrs. Meyers Surface Scrub and letting them dry in the sun for almost an hour. Then began the fun part: prime and paint!

the weapons of choice

the weapons of choice

I’ve become a devotee of all things Valpsar from Lowe’s after using it to paint our dining room, upstairs hall, and guest room, so I figured I’d give their spray paint a try. It was, as a plus, much cheaper than other products I had used in the past. Although some of their colors say that they’re fine to use directly on plastic, I decided to prime all the boxes with two to three coats anyway. I had a few different places that the boxes were going, so I chose two different colors: Tropical Oasis and Sumptuous Purple.

Tropical Oasis

Tropical Oasis

I could not be happier with the way the boxes turned out! I probably did three to four coats on each box. Both colors came out bright and cheerful. Two of the Tropical Oasis boxes sit in a very shady bed behind Hostas under our cherry tree, and one holds a plant on our driveway.

The Sumptuous Purple boxes came out equally brilliant. Because they’re going along the side of our lawn and sitting directly in the garden beds which are filled with ivy and can get quite soggy, I wanted to make sure they had plenty of drainage, but also weren’t too heavy. Solution?

0525151356b

Pine cones! Doesn’t everyone have a tote full of pine cones just sitting in their garage? Well, this girl has TWO totes full. Over a year ago, I spent all fall picking up the myriads of pine cones that fall from our huge tree because we learned the hard way that if you leave them through the winter, they create horrible divots in the lawn. I can’t walk without tripping on a good day, so my personal mission became collecting them. I figured we’d use them in our fire pit, but they burn so quickly they’re not very helpful. Finally, though, they have a purpose!

Sumptuous Purple

Sumptuous Purple

I filled the bottom third with the pine cones and then added soil on top. I only planted Impatients in the boxes so they don’t have terribly deep roots to worry about. So far, they’re thriving! Now I just had to figure out what to do with the leftover spray paint… but NO WORRIES!

0601151343

sad chair is sad

We inherited five of these sad looking folding chairs when we moved into the house. They were covered in rust. The first summer we lived in the house, I had spray painted a few tiny clay pots a beautiful lime green, and with paint leftover, I had sanded all five chairs and intended to paint them the same. Only two of the chairs got painted, though, but no worries!

0522151709

Now we have two more folding chairs to add to our collection for when we entertain! I love how cheerful these chairs are now and can’t wait until we have our first summer BBQ to pull them out.

Today was certainly a dismal, rainy, gray day, but I’m so thrilled with all the things I’ve gotten done so far! Anyone need anything spray painted!?

picture perfect

Considering how hot it has been, it’s been hard to bring myself to cook. But we’ve been making simple meals that don’t require standing over the stove too much.  Regardless of what we’ve been making, though, we’ve certainly been enjoying eating in our newly redone dining room.

My family and friends have been bugging me for an update on how it all went, and the stubborn blogger in me was waiting to get the “perfect pictures” of the room when the light is just right and you can truly appreciate how gorgeous it turned out. Well, I’m not waiting for that perfect shot anymore. I want to show you all how it looks!

When we first looked at the house, we knew we had a challenge on our hands but I was thrilled that the dining room was so big.

picture-uh=1af3f8437986c51f55d07ea95ecc3-ps=4c24f8abec2f15355b92ac87093870

realtors picture

The only problem was the floor. And the wallpaper. And the light fixture. And the radiator cover. So okay everything other than the size was a problem. But particularly the wallpaper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

UGH. WHY?!

A few days after we moved in, a couple friends were helping us unpack and somehow we ended up stripping the wallpaper and scrubbing the walls with TSP.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe light fixture didn’t bother us too much until we realized what it did when you turned it on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATextured ceiling + beveled glass fixture = AWESOME light patterns cast on the room. OR HIDEOUS.

I would have been content to leave the room as is except for one small problem. On one of the walls, the previous owners had let their kids scrawl their names, phone numbers, and some well wishes (“have a nice f*($#n day”), and we could not get it to scrub off. So, with a house warming bbq a few days away, we hastily picked a paint color and got to work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATADA! We used Behr’s Happy Camper Green (which comes out really true to their website pics) and absolutely LOVED the paint color. Then we were able to find a new light fixture at Home Depot for $179 and it really changed the look of the room. The only problem was that once we redid the living room, we realized the green did NOT go with the rest of the first floor which were mostly gray undertone colors. But for almost two years we lived with it.

Gradually we added furniture in the room. And by new furniture I mean a child size chifferobe and chest with shelving that I rehabbed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth the chifferobe and the dresser were made of pressed wood, but some heavy cleaning, light sanding, and half a dozen spray paint cans later, we had two very nice pieces.

P7030609This summer, with a week and change worth of vacation, I decided I was redoing and finally finishing off the dining room. First, I had a LOT of spackling to do, which we had neglected the first time around.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The painting was easy. This time around we used Behr’s color Mountain Sage. I have to admit, though, that I had a gift card to Lowe’s so I decided to get the paint from there. With my color sample in hand, I got Valspar’s Ultra Interior Flat Enamel which is paint and primer in one, PLUS low VOC.  I was able to do two coats in the same day, a few hours apart, even though it was at least 80 degrees out and humid. I was ridiculously pleased with how thick the paint was, and as quickly and sloppily as I was working, it did not spatter at all. At $25 a gallon it was a bit more than some of the paint I’ve used, but WELL worth it in the long run.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The only part of the room that was a pain was the wood work.  We have gorgeous dentil moulding around the ceiling and as our chair rail. The only problem? Dentil moulding was created as PUNISHMENT for people who have to paint it.  Now you all know that I’m psychotic and paint my woodwork in oil. What I learned the first time around doing the room was that you cannot paint the chair rail with a normal brush because it splatters and drips like crazy and you can’t get into the crevices. So this time?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYes, that is a paint brush that you would usually use for oil paint on canvas.  The chair rail took me at least two hours. See the X and hashes on the tape above? That’s how I kept my sanity and made sure I didn’t lose track of what dentil I was on. I COUNTED THEM. We have 382.

When all the tape was removed, it was time to dress the room. This definitely happened in stages.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst I put everything back in and desperately wished there was a way to hide the hideous tile floor. So I turned to CraigsList. $70 later….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!!!! I found a rug JUST large enough to cover the center of the room. It fits almost perfectly inside the white border tiles. I cannot tell you  how happy this makes me. Even though it darkens the room a little bit, it has also worked to dampen the horrible echo we always had. And now some glamour shots for your viewing pleasure!

The metal radiator cover was scored about 6 months ago for $40. Add two cans of spray paint and you have a gorgeous piece.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is dressed with a Limoges Bird of Paradise condiment dish, a bird and container from Michaels, a Lenox vase we received for our wedding, and a silver candy dish (devoid of its usual supply of M&Ms).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Limoges dish (also known as the Eden pattern) was scored for $15 at an estate sale and matches china that I have.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd yes, the flowers are fake which I have people ask me all the time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur “hutch” is dressed with a handmade bowl we received for our wedding that is personalized, some R mugs, a bird I bought during a trip we took for our first anniversary, a whiskey set from friends, our cake topper, and a few other sentimental items. While the display is nice, the drawers were a huge plus in the room as they house most of our linens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe refinished chifferobe houses more linens and entertaining pieces like wine glasses and serving trays. The paint crackled when it was drying (as I refinished it last fall which was a mistake because of the cool, humid nights) so some time this summer it will go out piece by piece to get a finish coat.  The red bird is also from Michaels. Can you sense a theme here?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The wall that was so horribly uneven is now smoothed out and has photos I took in Ireland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think one of the things that excited me the most about finishing the room was the harmony when you look from the dining room into the living room and see how the colors go together. (Please ignore the drop cloth on the floor in the living room!)  The fact that the rug goes with the valances my mom had treated me to when I had found the living room ones. They were purchased from Swags Galore and I would never buy valances without looking there first. Their prices are AMAZING.

Overall I’m just thrilled. The first few days, as I stumbled into the kitchen to get my coffee, I was overwhelmed by the difference that paint color can make. Before, when you walked into our dining room it said HI! I’M GREEN! and now it says Please come sit down and enjoy a savory meal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I hope you enjoyed seeing the dining room as much as I enjoy it. Every night as the gloaming approaches, I walk into my dining room and think this is why I do this. This was worth the wait. This is something good and safe and beautiful.

This is home.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

facelift

The simplest makeovers are often the easiest ones.  We have a center hall colonial, which is exactly what it sounds like.  When you walk into our house, our tiled center hall is large, with a radiator to the right, and coat closet and the stairs leading to the second floor straight in front of you.  The previous owners added a chair rail, with a textured wallpaper below it, and a striped wallpaper above.  It may not be exactly our style but despite the abuse the rest of the house has been through it is in surprisingly good shape.

All of the woodwork needs to be cleaned and painted, including the stair risers which are horribly scuffed and discolored. That’s an upcoming project. The biggest eyesore by far, though, was the radiator cover. We don’t keep much on it – just a silver tray for the mail and a plant. But we still wanted it to look nice. And the one that was there was boxy, dirty, and had screens that were punctured.  While it had been painted white at one time, it was now far from it.

The screens were the biggest obstacle.  Having refinished three radiator covers in the house already, I knew that sanding globs of paint off of them was difficult to say the least, as well as taking hours of work. I also learned from redoing the one in our main bath that they had been painted with latex. The minute you started sanding or cleaning, the paint would start rolling up and peeling off. New radiator screens are anywhere from $18 to $36 per sheet, and with the size of this radiator, the cost of replacement was going to be over $100 before paint.

In a lucky trip to ReStore, we found the solution.

I have always loved metal radiator covers. They almost always have a beautiful shape or screen design, and the lids typically tilt up for easy bleeding – much easier than having to pull out the whole cover. This one was scuffed, had a little bit of rust, and had a little bit of discoloration. But it was solid, and a beautiful shape.  Even better? It was $45. 

Armed with 100 and 220 grit sandpaper, an orbital sander, and Rustoleum Universal Gloss Spray Paint (with a spray trigger – so much easier!) in white, the project was underway.  The sanding is by far the most important process. Small paint bubbles, rust, and dirt all have to be removed carefully.  The whole cleaning process only took about two hours. The painting was the difficult part but not why you might think.

Because we bought the piece on Black Friday, the cold weather was soon upon us.  My spray paint projects (you’ll find out after a while that there are A LOT of them) all happen in our garage, so the cold weather is an issue.  They aren’t lying when they tell you it has to be 50 degrees or warmer.  If you ignore that and decide to paint anyway, you’ll be cursed by dimples in the finish and paint that doesn’t cure. If you go to do a second coat and it’s not cured, the ripples will be horrible. Not to mention you have to sand those areas down again and start over. If it’s just over 50 degrees, chances are the garage might be colder inside, so you still have to make sure you keep the cans warmer (I put them in my pockets when they’re not being used) and if it’s sunny out leaving the radiator (or any project) in the sun for a little bit helps to warm it up.

So over two months, I only had a handful of days that were warm enough. But the final product was well worth the wait.

The sidenote is that this radiator not only looks clean, beautiful, and more in keeping with the house, but also gives off a LOT more heat. With more screening and less wood, the metal radiates so much more warmth than before. On any given night, one or both of our cats will be laying in front of it. (And they’re also happier because they can now retrieve the toys that they knock underneath.)

Total cost? $45 for the cover and just under $18 for spray paint and spray sealant.

The effect? Gorgeous. Priceless. Perfect. Next step? Framing a print for above it.