Wednesday, November 30, 2011

DIY Kitchen Curtains

I took a Fashion Design class in high school as an elective one semester.  Although I don't remember much from the class, it did teach me the basics on how to operate a sewing machine.  I don't trust my feeble sewing skills to create anything remotely presentable to wear in public, but I am at least able to make Halloween costumes for my poor dog.

Zubie as the Hokie Bird for one Thanksgiving.  Classic.
The kitchen has three windows, which already had curtains.  They were white and had green and purple embroidered flowers on them -- pretty, but not my style.  I wanted something that was green, red, and orange to tie in my green kitchen, red dining room, and orange living room.

Donated these curtains to Goodwill.  Hopefully someone else will appreciate them more.
I figured that the easiest way to do this was to simply buy an extra panel of my dining room curtains and then just shorten them for the kitchen.  That way, the windows of both rooms would match.


I should say that I busted out the tape measurer, a straight edge, and a calculator to figure out the dimensions of the curtains, but I don't want to lie.  I was an English major in college; therefore, myself + any kind of math = don't mix.  So, I just took down the curtains, laid them on top of the new one, and used that as a guide.  Since I had to fold over some fabric to create the hem, I made sure to cut the fabric about an inch and a half wider than the curtain itself.  


A lot of people claim that they can't sew.  It's not that they can't, it's that they're too afraid to try it.  Trust me, sewing is easy.  If you can drive a car, you can operate a sewing machine.  I'm not kidding.  Just look up online how to thread a sewing machine, and you're good to go.  


As shown above, I just folded over the fabric about half an inch for the bottom hem, and sewed in a straight line.  It didn't have to be perfect.  They're curtains.  Then, for the other side, I folded the fabric about an inch, making sure that the hole was big enough for the curtain rod.  



And that's it!  Simple, right?

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Little Shoutout to My Handyman

Evan is a truly remarkable husband.  I am very fortunate to have him in my life.

Since we placed an offer on our house, Evan has endured trip after trip to Lowe's, Grand Home Furnishings, and Bed Bath and Beyond.  He has listened with patience and earnestness to my decorating findings via the blog world, Crate and Barrel catalogs, and coupons.  He has let me choose every paint color, every pillow, every blanket, and every candleholder.  Then, when I am at a loss for ideas, he always comes up with something brilliant (Remember our crusty old mailbox?  It was his idea to salvage it.  Read about it here).

Evan is the type of person who doesn't shrink away from tasks with which he is unfamiliar or uncomfortable with.  He just... figures it out himself.  What's even better?  He's good at this.  He likes the challenge.  That's why he's my unofficial-yet-official plumber, carpenter, architect, electrician, car mechanic, math teacher, and chef.

Official toilet installer.
Official painting assistant. 
Official grill assembler.
In the past month, Evan's installed and plumbed a new toilet, installed three new bathroom light fixtures, repaired drywall, replaced three ugly light fixtures with new ceiling fans, installed two new faucets, caulked the new toilet and our bathtub, fitted 10 new door knobs, dealt with our slight mouse problem in the attic (EEEEEEK!)... and that's to only name a few projects.

Official ceiling fan installer.
Official electrician / drywall repairer.
Official guy-to-do-the-scariest-tasks-involving-heights.
Evan has spent countless hours painting walls and hard-to-reach spaces (a blessing for us short people), departing on emergency Lowe's errands, moving heavy furniture and boxes, bringing me food and taking care of our animals while I'm painting, and consoling me when I'm tired-and-cranky-and-freaking-out-over-insane-kitchen-renovations.


God love him.  I know I do.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Living Room Reveal

When we went on the first tour of our house last August, Evan wasn't too crazy about the living room.  He thought it was small and didn't like the idea of it being located in a huge traffic area.  After hearing this, I had to agree.  The living room wasn't very large, and served as a conduit of the adjacent front door / foyer, guest bathroom, guest bedrooms, the staircase leading to upstairs, and the dining room / kitchen.  I was a little more used to the open floorplan concept, though, because my parents' house is designed in a similar way.

Living Room: Before
Evan seemed content, however, with the idea that we would use the upstairs' bonus room as the true "hang out," and where we'd place the TV for now.  I promised to make him a Man Cave up there, complete with every Virginia Tech-Washington Capitals-Washington Nationals-random-sports memorabilia available.  Then, once we can afford a second TV, we'll stick that one in the living room to make it more than just a sitting room.

Living Room: Before
Apparently the previous owner had a lot of furniture, because on move-in day, the living room looked enormous.  Well, in comparison.  We don't have a lot of furniture, so it was a nice surprise.  Evan was pleased.

The downstairs was originally painted either a light tan or a peach color.  This, in conjunction with the open floorplan, caused the living room, dining room, and kitchen to blend in together.  Therefore, just like I did with the dining room, I decided that a bold color would separate the living room from the others and make it unique.


I painted my last apartment's living room / dining room Olympic's "Georgian Leather."  I loved it.  It was bright, but it wasn't overwhelming.  Instead, it was almost calming.  Weird, I know.  I think the most overpowering aspect of the walls, rather, was the amount of picture frames I hung.  I couldn't help myself.   So, I decided to reuse it.


I painted my apartment's walls with one coat of this paint in satin.  It was ridiculous how smoothly and how well the paint covered the walls.  I thought that maybe it was just a fluke -- that the Lowe's employee accidentally added primer or something.  Nope.  Much to my surprise, the orange went on just as perfect as before.  Especially after the red dining room, this was a dream.  This time, however, I used up the whole gallon by applying two coats of the orange, just in case my eyes were deceiving me.


For the outlets, I tried a different kind of spray paint this time:  Rustoleum's Multicolor Textured paint in "Desert Bisque."  It sprayed on evenly and dried with a finish that looked and felt quite literally like sand.  I actually wouldn't be surprised if it was just adhesive and sand.  It was cool!



To finish the room, I pushed the couch, coffee table, and fish tank back in place.  It's incredible how paint transforms a room so quickly and easily.  I was able to complete the living room on a weeknight while watching a movie.

After!
Corgi photobomb.
The rug is from Lowe's.  It's called "City Blocks."  We realized after buying it that we should've gotten a larger rug, but this one will certainly do.  My favorite part of the room are the windows.  I love how large they are.  The seller left behind some oil bronze curtain rods, which I will utilize eventually.  I'll probably just drape some wispy curtains to frame each window.  I also plan on making floor lamps and and side lamps to save money.  







We're also planning on getting a TV and maybe a loveseat or oversized chair.  For now, the fish are happy where they are.  

So many colors!
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fightin' Gobblers

Remember the wild turkeys who were spotted in our backyard on closing day?  Well, they're frequent guests.  I'm not sure why they're so fascinated with one corner of our backyard; perhaps it's an awesome bug hunting ground.  Fortunately, they're pleasant fellows who mind their own business and will waddle away whenever they're caught grazing.  They're quiet, too, and haven't gobbled yet.  I'm kind of disappointed about that.  We joke that they're so cordial because they don't want to become Thanksgiving dinner.

"Nope, we're just leavin' now.  Don't mean to disturb."
Then, enter my two Corgis.  They're loud, hyper, and slightly neurotic.  Whenever they catch the turkeys trespassing in their backyard, they drop everything that they're doing and erupt with their boisterous howls, their voices cracking the entire time.  In their minds, they think they're all big, bad, and cool, like this:


When, in reality, they're actually this:


The turkeys always retreat eons before the Corgis stop howling.  After it is mutually determined that their amount and intensity of howls is sufficient enough, Zubie and Crash prance around the perimeter of the yard to guard their turf.  The amount of pride displayed on their faces is hilarious, and I always expect them to pound on their chests victoriously like King Kong.  Good thing we don't really have neighbors.

"I'm so awesome."
But the turkeys present a problem.  You see, Zubie and Crash instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano to the turkeys' grazing site.  They not only eat what the turkeys leave behind, but they enjoy rolling in it, as well. Of course they do.  They're dogs.

The face of a pup who just rolled around in turkey poop.
Needless to say, our Corgis have received many, many baths since we've moved in.  However, I'm sure they strongly believe that it's all worth it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

One Year of Being a Grown Up

It is absolutely incredible how much life can change in one year.

Today, one year ago, was my final day as a bookstore cashier.  I greeted customers more enthusiastically than usual.  I cleaned the shelves and countertops a little more thoroughly.  I even waved at the scornful duty manager who patrolled the store.  It was bittersweet, but I was ready for it.

During this time, we were never truly poor, but we did have to be careful.  We didn't have cable; we scoured newspapers for coupons; and we never bought anything other than groceries, emergencies, and gifts for family and friends (and an occasional $5 movie from Wal-Mart).  Spaghetti, bean burritos, and Ramen noodles were huge staples in our diet.  Our one-bedroom apartment was a little too expensive for our budget, but we managed.  We were still happy.


And then I got that phone call.  An interview.  A second interview.  A job offer.  Two weeks later, we splurged on a celebration at a Japanese steakhouse on the final night at the bookstore.  I said goodbye to my minimum wage job and eagerly welcomed a salary and benefits... something that I could barely comprehend at the time. I still forget that I CAN go to the doctor.

And, well, tomorrow will be my first anniversary at my "grown up" job.  Hard to believe.

Sure, work can be brutal.  I can't tell you how many late nights, early mornings, all nighter's, weekends, vacation days, and holidays I've spent in my cubicle.  I've lost count of how many times I've had to stifle tears during conference calls and reviews.  It's difficult to create something that will not only meet the Government's needs and expectations, but the expectations of numerous supervisors and reviewers from my company and other companies, as well.


At the same time, it's rewarding because the work is challenging.  I can't believe how much I've learned in a year. I am very fortunate to have a job that I truly enjoy, even on its worst days.  Not to mention, I am also grateful to have a job that allows Evan and I to have the lifestyle we want to lead.

We both have jobs, great families, awesome friends, two cars, a zoo's worth of pets, a home, and we have each other.  Could life get any better than this?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Dining Room Reveal

It may just be my opinion, but it seems as though dining rooms are always that one room in the house that gets neglected.

Ugh.
In a Type A house, you will have a formal dining room (as presented above).  This is a room that is completely walled off to itself.  It's got a big table, a lot of chairs, a chandelier, and maybe a China cabinet.  It honestly serves no purpose except to store a bunch of really expensive furniture and crystal.  Very few people actually use their formal dining room except for holidays.  Even then, if you're serving Thanksgiving there, half of your guests will be itching to get back to the NFL game. 

A little home-ier.
In a Type B house, you've got the informal dining room (depicted above).  The "informal" bit is mostly due to the fact that your house has an open floor plan and you just kind of stick the table in a free space.  Any decorations in this dining room have to match the rooms around it, so it loses its individuality.  However, since the table is located in a traffic area, more homeowners will be apt to use it on a regular basis.

I've got a Type B situation.  My dining room is off the kitchen, in a high traffic area due to the adjacent living room, master bedroom, laundry area, and sliding glass door leading to the deck.  I've got one large wall and then the outside wall with the sliding glass door to establish the room.

The dining room, before move in.
Fortunately, the dining room is large enough to house our oversized dining room set.  I'm obsessed with my table and chairs.  I may or may not have a problem.  Ten years ago, I was strolling through Crate and Barrel with my mom, and spotted it.  I declared right then and there that one day, I'd buy it; and sure enough, I did.  It's durable, it's simple, it's beautiful, and it can seat 10 with the leaf. You can even host a professional ping pong tournament on it.  Overall love.

Triad Extension Dining Table and Pullman Chairs from Crate and Barrel
My goal was to create a fun and vibrant, but sophisticated dining room.  I wanted it to have the elegance of a Type A formal dining room, but the practicality of a Type B room.  So... I went bold.  But, first things first.

Due to settling, we had a lot of little cracks in our walls.  They looked like spiderwebs, and mostly appeared above and below the corners of doors, entryways, and windows.  Our inspector told us that these weren't a cause for alarm -- that they were the result of the builder placing the unit onto the wall with a crane upon installation.  Our home is a modular home, meaning that it was built in a factory and then shipped via truck to the location (the foundation, of course, was built onsite). You've probably seen those "Oversize Load" trucks and escorts on highways.  Well, our house had been on one of those trucks once.


The inspector suggested to repair the cracks using paintable caulk instead of traditional spackling paste.  The trouble with spackling, he said, was that you could cover the crack on a Monday and then the crack would be right back on Wednesday due to fluctuations in house and outside temperatures.  Paintable caulk, on the other hand, is flexible enough so that it will adapt to these temperatures without cracking.

Not so cool.

So, I bought some paintable caulk and a caulk gun and kind of went crazy with them, filling in every crack and hole I could possibly find.  It was actually fun, and I felt powerful.


Say hello to my little friend!
It especially helped with some shelving units that the seller had in his kitchen, which left gaping holes once I yanked the dozen or so screws out of the studs.

Bye, bye, shelves.

Once it was dry (I let it dry overnight, just in case), I sanded the residue on top down to the wall as best as I could.  Then it was ready to paint.


Like the kitchen, the dining room had these dingy white electrical outlet covers that needed a little pizzazz.  I spray painted the outlets with Rustoleum's Oil Rubbed Bronze.  The doors to my laundry area had the same brass knobs that the kitchen did, so I spray painted those, as well. 


Remember when I said that I wanted to go bold?  Well, this is how bold I got:  Olympic's "Apple-a-Day" red.


I have to warn you:  Every little rumor you've heard about red being a terrible color to paint is true.  I don't know why.  You could paint a room dark blue, dark green, even black, and it wouldn't take more than three coats.  But red... be prepared.  This dining room has been my most expensive project thus far simply because of how much paint it required.  It also took me the longest out of all of them, because I'd paint three or four coats, get tired, and still see splotches, streaks, and an unpleasant pinkish / reddish color despite all of the work.

Coat #5
Coat #7
It took me three gallons and 12 coats of paint to get it to the correct shade of red.  But man... it was worth it.






The rug is from Lowe's.  They've got a great deal on rugs.  The curtains, too, are from Lowe's.  They're wispy and fun and aren't too girly for Evan.  I bought an extra panel and am planning on making kitchen curtains out of it so that the two rooms will coordinate.

Crash likes the rug.  Obviously.
Curtain closeup
I don't think I'm going to have a white outlets again.
We also plan on hanging some pictures and eventually buy a sideboard, a cabinet, a bar, or something for the large wall.  We're thinking the Steamer Bar from Crate and Barrel.  Again, my obsession.


It goes from this...
... to THIS.  Love.  Drooling, maybe.  But sheesh, it's expensive.
Despite the open floorplan, I believe that the red creates a distinction of "this is the dining room" versus other rooms of the house.  We joked that having a red dining room and a green kitchen would make it look too much like Christmas, but hey, at least I won't have to decorate so much for the holidays.




You may find me linking up at these fantastic parties:

Monday: Boogieboard CottageBurlap and DenimC-R-A-F-TCraft-O-ManiacDIY Home Sweet Home,  Everything Under the MoonGet Outta My Head PleaseThe Girl CreativeThe Graphics FairyMad in CraftsMaking the World CuterOur Delightful HomePolish the StarsSew Can DoSew Happy GeekSkip to My LouThrifty Decor ChickToo Much Time on My HandsTuesday: A Bowl Full of LemonsCherished BlissCoastal CharmConfessions of a Stay at Home MommyFunky Polka Dot Giraffe,  I'm Topsy TurvyThe Kurtz CornerMommy By Day Crafter by NightNap Time CreationsNatural NestersNot Just a HousewifeSugar Bee Crafts,  Sweet Little GalsTip JunkieToday's Creative BlogWednesday: Free Pretty Things for YouGinger Snap CraftsJAQS StudioLet Birds FlyRae Gun RamblingsThe Sasse LifeSew Much AdoSew WoodsySomeday CraftsSouthern LovelyThursday: A Creative PrincessA Glimpse InsideCrafty, Scrappy, HappyHouse of HepworthsJust Winging ItMade in a DayThe Shabby Creek CottageSomewhat SimpleThrifty DecoratingYesterday on TuesdayFriday: 2805The Answer is ChocolateBacon Time with the Hungry HypoCreation CornerFinding FabulousFingerprints on the FridgeHappy-Go-LuckyMom 4 RealMy Simple Home LifeOne Artsy MamaPerfectly ImperfectThe Rooster and the HenSimply DesigningTatertots and JelloWhipperberryYoung and CraftySaturday: Be Different... Act NormalCandace CreationsFunky Junk InteriorsIt's So Very CheriNutmeg PlaceSunday: Embellishing Life with Homemade GoodnessFlamingo ToesG*RatedNifty Thrifty Things

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