Monday, December 11, 2017

Easy Jewelry Hanger

This jewelry hanger is a simple, quick project that displays jewelry nicely and would make a great gift, too!

I have found that I do not wear tons of jewelry (great way to start a jewelry post, Amy), but what I do end up wearing most often are those pieces that just sit out on my dresser in plain sight.  Yes, they are out in the first place because they tend to by my favorites at the time, but also they are right there and visible and easy to grab.  So, rather than finding jewelry box space for everything, I decided to embrace it.

As I was single-handedly clearing out the Hearth and Home section of Target shopping for essential supplies the other week, I came across this small, nicely finished acacia wood cutting board that I decided would be great for my jewelry hanger.  This is the exact one, although in googling it I found that there is also this larger one that would work for those of you with more lovely jewelry to hang.  I have seen a lot of acacia wood lately, and I like it because it has a lot of color variation that lets it go well with many other wood species and colors.  I my case, I have a very dark dresser and this piece coordinates without being dark and heavy itself.  While I happen to like this cutting board, any piece of wood could work - it just needs enough space to hold whatever you are planning to hang on it, and enough thickness to accommodate your hooks.

Once you have your piece of wood finished the way you like, attach sawtooth picture frame hangers onto the back.  Use two for stability, and make sure that they are level.

Next comes the hooks on the front.  I used 1/2" brass teacup hooks, which I happened to have laying around, but you can find at a hardware store or Home Depot or Lowe's.  Think through how to lay out your hooks.  A few suggestions here:
- My rows of hooks are about 3 1/4" apart, and you can see how it's barely enough space for my larger earrings.  To have plenty of space for larger earrings, either leave at least 3 1/4" between your rows (even 3 1/2" might be better), or don't completely fill two rows with hooks.  See how my longest earrings in the pictures above are on the ends, where I didn't put hooks in the second row?
- You'll need to space the hooks far enough apart that you can twist each one in.  For 1/2" hooks, space them about 1/2" apart.
Next, pre-drill the holes, if for no other reason than to save your fingers!  Either by hand or with some pliers, twist each hook into place.  If you use pliers, I suggest putting something like a scrap piece of cloth or cardboard over the hooks so you don't scratch them, and be careful not to bend the hooks out of shape.

And that's it!  Hang it on your wall, and add the jewelry!


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Basement Reno - The Beginning

Today I'll be sharing the beginnings of our basement reno.  It's not finished yet, but the end is in sight, so I feel like I can share where I started without having to wait another year to see the final product (at least I hope!).  First, let's talk about where we started from, and what we decided to tackle.

When we bought our house, the basement was semi-finished.  I say "semi" because it was finished, but not with great quality.  Not too long after we moved in, we realized that we had water problems.  Every time a big rain came, the water ran straight down our driveway, into our garage, then to the low point on our basement slab, at the opposite corner of the house.  Eventually we realized that the basement was semi-finished in an attempt to cover up the fact that water had been in the basement before and would show up again. It's such a bummer to have a space in your home that you counted as usable, but threatens to trash everything you keep there!  

I have said before, at least to myself, that I would not use this blog as an outlet to bash the family who lived here before us.  I'll tell you all the stories in person, some are hilarious, but not on the internet.  That said, in the hopes that someone could learn from our mistakes, let me just say this.  If you are looking at a home to buy and come across areas that were recently renovated, look at them carefully.  Some owners update their homes before putting them on the market, and make sure that quality work is done.  Others will do a sloppy job or worse, try to cover up damage.  If you come across a renovated room, just look at it carefully, and ask questions to understand why those changes were made.

So, let's see some before pictures...

This is the laundry room, complete with a dryer that vents to the garage.  And damaged ceiling tiles.  Also, although the layout was roomy enough, I always had storage issues.  Note the folding drying rack that doesn't have a good home.

You may be able to see that the laundry room acted as a pass-through to the bathroom.  It's shown more in this picture, with a straight view to the toilet!  P.S., if the doors were open, this was the view from the front door.  Be still, my heart.

And, once you journeyed past the laundry, here's what you'd see for a bathroom:

Ok, to be fair, I could have tried to clean up before I took the pictures. But this is typically how it looked, because we were never really able to use it as a functional bathroom.  The shower was broken, and thanks to the water intrusion, it just never felt clean.

Anyway, back to my story.  After the rains came down and the floods came up a few times in our basement, we knew we had to do something.  Preferably, we would fix the water issue before we did anything about the damage in the house.  So, we had our gutters re-routed away from the house last fall (way cheaper than I thought), and had our driveway re-sloped this spring, with a drain in front of the garage door that spits out in the backyard (painfully expensive).  

While we were working on all of that, I noticed that we were actually getting a mold problem in the basement.  I wanted to do everything in order, but I can't live with mold.  So, in fall of last year, I went on a demo mission.  I believe this sums up my efforts well:


And that's where I did my laundry.  For a long time.  In the dark, thanks to the light being held up by ceiling tiles, and wiring that I didn't feel comfortable using once I uncovered it.  I kept telling myself that we needed to fix the problem first, and not dive into something that could get ruined down the line.  But doing laundry in the dark is not fun.  So, I started planning.

To help explain my thought process, here's a floor plan:

I mentioned a few of the issues I had with this space above, but to summarize:

The dryer vented to the garage, which left the garage humid and nasty.  Improvement: properly vent dryer

- The laundry room was spacious enough, but didn't have much in the way of storage.  Most of the open space was used as a passageway to the bathroom.  Improvement: room for laundry and pantry storage.

- The bathroom was very small, and had to be accessed by the laundry room.  Even if the shower worked, I doubt we would have used it much just because of its awkward location in the house.  Improvement: more functional layout for bathroom

- One important thing to know here is that the room labeled "Guitar Room", which we use as Matt's studio, is a larger room that we actually used as a bedroom when we first moved in.  If the bathroom was accessible from that room, we could market it later as an optional master bedroom.  Improvement: bathroom access from the guitar room

So, sparing you the details of what we decided not to do, here's the layout that we ended up with: 

Here's why this accomplishes those improvements I mentioned:

Improvement: properly vent dryer.  I played around with having the laundry along the exterior wall (where the sink and toilet are in the layout above) to allow the dryer to vent, but this allow for the dryer exhaust to go up to the ceiling and through a bay in between the joists to get outside.   It's an extra 5 feet of smooth piping compared to having the dryer right at the wall, and our dryer has been able to vent fine.

Improvement: room for laundry and pantry storage.  Technically I'm still working on this part, but the open space in the room is no longer needed for a pass through, which gives the possibility for more storage.

Improvement: more functional layout for bathroom and bathroom access from the guitar room.  Long story short, we gave up a closet in the guitar room for access to the bathroom.  In turn, this gave us a little more room in the bathroom as well.  This allowed for a full-sized tub, and a reasonably spacious feel to that room.  There are no giant closets in this house anywhere, and this room has plenty of space for furniture storage, so I think the benefit outweighs losing the closet.  It's not shown well on the floor plan, but this also makes the bathroom easily accessible from our deck, which will be nice for entertaining out there.

Lastly, to give you an idea of where this is headed, I'll leave you with a "mood board" of my design plan for the bathroom:

I'll explain the design details in later posts, but I had put something nice looking in here!  Stay tuned!


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Building a Chair

So, I didn't write on the blog for a really long time.  I don't really know why, but I think it was because my projects were all taking forever, and I just didn't feel like talking about the ounce of progress I made every week or two.  Sometimes, I just lose momentum.  But, I figure there are at least a few things to catch up on, so I may as well pick up where I left off.

Before I dropped off the face of the blog world, I mentioned that I was upholstering a chair as a test-run for reupholstering a couch.  I happened to have some chair frames laying around (I know, random), and so I bought the basic tools, this upholstery book, and got to work.

Actually, funny story about the frames.  The first year hubby and I were married, he worked for an office furniture store.  One day he came home and asked if I wanted a couple of dining room chairs that were going to be thrown out.  Free chairs?  Ok! When I said yes, he brought home three of these frames. 

Totally bare.  Just frames.  Also, waiting room chairs, not dining room, but who's counting?  Not to stereotype here, but there is only one gender that can look at this and think, "usable furniture".  Sweet, but hilarious all in one move.  The best part is, I, serial purger of all the things, have had these frames for the last 6 years.  

So anyway, here's the frame to begin with, just waiting to be a real chair, haha:

The first step was to attach webbing for the seat bottom using a staple gun and a webbing stretcher, which looked something like a medieval torture device.  This was the easy part.  Here's what it looked like from the bottom of the chair after that step was finished:

Next was the painful part: tying the springs.  First you sew the springs to the webbing, then you tie this twine so that they are compressed just right and all tied together.  The book I linked to does a great job of explaining this, much better than my amateur self could!  It's pretty hard to hold the spring down and tie it at the same time, and the twine is really thick, so it kind of hurts your fingers after a while.  This is what mine looked like after all the springs were tied:

If you are lucky, you'll end up with this nice, rounded seat, ready for stuffing and batting and foam.  Let's pretend that's what's in the picture above, ok?  

I'll call the next part the fast part, because apparently all that stuffing and foam covering went so fast that I neglected to photograph any of it... bad, Amy!

The back section was similar to the seat, just minus springs (yay)!  Then comes the fabric, aka the tedious part.  There's a lot of stapling, pulling, re-stapling, then all of a sudden it looks like a chair again!

The almost-finished chair looked like this:

And once the trim cord was put in place, here's how it turned out!

So, was it worth it?  I think if I found an old chair that was worth keeping and just needed some new upholstery, I would do this again.  It's not worth buying all of the tools and such if you only plan to do it once, but it's worth it if you'll use them a few times.

I don't remember how much everything cost, but it was in the ballpark of $50 for the materials for the chair (the frame was free), not including the tools.  This of course depends on what you buy for fabric; I went with an upholstery fabric that was on clearance at the fabric store, so that kept things on the cheaper side.  The most expensive parts were the springs!

Speaking of springs, one thing I should point out is that this chair was not designed for coil springs.  A lot of chairs have different springs or just padding alone, but I put springs in this chair because it was a practice run for the couch and I read that the springs were the toughest part.  The springs worked fine on the frame, except it makes the arms a little low since the seat sits so much higher than it would without springs.  Just something to keep in mind if you are considering doing something similar. 

Next, it was on to the couch!  
Hopefully, that post will come soon.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Matte Christmas Ornaments

I don't usually start thinking about Christmas until after Thanksgiving but...

I was walking through Target the other week, fully intending on grabbing the couple items that I needed (aka how all Target trips start, right?), when I rounded the corner to find that the new Hearth and Hand (aka Joanna Gaines) line was out.  Luckily, I had only grabbed a basket and not a cart, or I'm pretty sure I could have purchased the whole shelf.  Anyone out there have the same problem?!  Everything looks so simple and cozy, and I like that the line is made up of smaller items (accessories) that are decently made, rather than cheap replicas of bigger pieces (furniture).

Anyway, it was before Halloween, and so I could not bring myself to purchase anything from the Christmas section of Hearth and Hand, but I really liked these ornaments:

Source: Target (white and black

They are made with a matte finish, and I like the little x details.  They weren't terribly expensive ($13 for a 8), but I decided to try to make my own this time.

So, this is what I ended up with:

I bought both plastic and paper mache ornaments from Michael's along with gray (Ash Gray) and cream (Parchment) colored chalk paint.  The plastic ones were much more cost effective, and the chalk paint stuck to them, so I would recommend those.  I've linked to the supplies at the bottom of the post.

It took two coats of the base color, then I added little v's, sort of like the ones that I would draw as a kid for birds rather than hard angles.  

You can see that they are hand-made (or at least hand-painted), but I kind of like them that way.  The matte color will look nice with the wooden and metallic ornaments that I plan to hand them with.  The colors I chose were very neutral, but the same idea works in any color scheme.  And in case anyone needs to see them in place, here they are on a tree in my backyard. :)

Here's the source list:
Plastic Ornaments - on sale at the moment for $5 for 12
Parchment (Cream) Paint (I bought the 8oz bottle, but this 2oz would be plenty for a dozen ornaments) - $2
Ash Gray Paint (They only have it in the larger size, but you could buy this black and lighten it up a little with the parchment) $7.50 or $2

I realized later that I could have used some cheap old ornaments I had laying around and just painted those, so if you have some, consider that too!

Oh, and if you need some more holiday inspiration, you can check out some projects from past years here:


Have a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

On to the Next Project

It feels like we had a lot going on in the second half of 2016. At work, with family, and at home. My mind is always working when it comes to the house, but with our busy schedule and some major house repairs in the forecast, I was hesitant to spend money on the more decorative things.

One of the things we had going on this fall was helping some family members move and downsize.  These family members were really hoping that the possessions they had to leave behind would be put to good use, and so we all went through carefully to see what we could make use of.

Earlier, I had been noticing how much our living room couch doesn't fit the feel of our home. We bought it when we first got married and were living in a different space, and we didn't feel the need to spend much money on it. So, it's brown, cheap and falling apart.  I found a clean lined, tufted back, mid-century styled couch from West Elm's website that I liked, but the $1200 price tag, although fair, meant that I really had to be sure about this couch. 

Our Couch

So, as I'm walking through this family member's home, I came across a clean lined, tufted back, truly mid-century couch. I have spent plenty of time around it and never looked at it twice before, but after spending some time online looking for that specific shape, it stuck out to me now. The only problem? The floral upholstery wasn't quite what I was looking for. But a free couch? In the right style? Done.

Can you see it??

After calling an upholsterer (not easy to find, BTW), and learning that he was unavailable, the thought starting creeping in; could I? How hard? Its just pulling fabric off and putting fabric on, right? The fact that my family member had actually reupholstered this couch once before meant that it was at least theoretically possible. I guess the DIY gene, like the engineer gene, is hereditary?

Note, hubby told me I was crazy before the couch went on the moving truck. But this freight train had already left the station. I mean, why not try when it's free?!

And so begins my entry into the world of upholstery. 

I bought a book, to help me figure out what is really involved. The one I purchased, here, has so far proven to be great. Very much worth the price, and it's actually a little inspiring too!

As you'll see in an upcoming post, I decided to start small with a chair, to test the waters in a relatively low risk situation. Stay tuned to see how that went, whether or not it gave me the confidence to try the couch, and if reupholstering can save you any money compared to buying new!

Ahh the distractions from daunting home repairs...

Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Better Late Than Never? (Christmas 2016, Outdoors)

So... This post is way late.  These were my Christmas decorations for the exterior of my house, but let's just call them winter decorations, ok?  Most of them will carry through the winter just fine, and will keep my front entry from looking totally bleak, so we'll just roll with it.

Merry, err, Happy Winter, everyone!

My wreath, from a local greenhouse, is made from birch bark, and I like that it is very simple, and also that i can save it for next year.  I added the ribbon just to make it a little more festive.  For you know, winter. ;)

I made the planters (see that post here) that sit on our front porch, and filling them seasonally has been fun.  Once the fall grasses finally died out, I was looking for something nice and green, but still simple, to fill them.  

In my opinion, good arrangements have a mixture of color and texture.  There was a pretty simple formula for this one: a few different greens (pine branches and the furry thing in the corner I can't remember the name of, and the osage orange), a pop of color (berries), one more layer of texture/fill with the pine cones, and one shiny/metallic thing (the ornaments).

I also added a few lanterns, and shoved a string of lights in them to give them a nice glow at night.  I think painting the wood scraps that they are sitting on would have looked nicer; maybe next year.

I also filled our window boxes with some greens, artificial berries, and a candle:

Which looked pretty neat when an ice storm came through:

A few more photos, just for fun:

From the ice storm: