Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ready, set, BUILD!

I always thought that it would be cool to be a carpenter.  Bob Vila, Trading Spaces, While You Were Out, and the Home and Garden Network certainly influenced that.  The kinds of bookcases, headboards, dining tables, ottomans, and even decks that these carpenters could make in an afternoon always astonished me.

I've never tried to build something before.  My designing skills mostly revolve around my ability to slap some brightly colored paint on a wall and call it a day.  I'd love to be able to design and build a cabinet, shelving, a coffee table... anything!  Lately I've been getting inspired by reading articles and blogs about women who love doing such things.  Since then, I've been doodling and making measurements and brainstorming ideas for various carpentry projects of my very own.

What's been stopping me has been that... well, I only own a hammer, a few screwdrivers, and an X-acto knife.

But not anymore!  Our families downright spoiled us this year for Christmas.  Our garage is now equipped with a brad nailer, a jigsaw, an orbital sander, and a miter saw.  Evan and I went out and bought a air compressor yesterday.  So excited.  Trust me, first thing tomorrow morning, I'm heading off to Lowe's to buy some lumber, some crown molding, and some MDF. I'm sure there will be a lot of learning and a whole lot of trial and error, but that's what this's all about, right?

So let the building begin!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

All About Doors

Both our front door and kitchen door (which leads to the mudroom) were white with gold hardware (our interior doors, too, had gold knobs).  They also looked as though they hadn't been cleaned since the house was built, and had dirt buildup and grunge all over them.  It was time to give them a much-needed facelift.

Front door: Before
Kitchen door: Before
We solved this problem by painting them with Rustoleum's specialized Door Paint in Cranberry.  I thought the bold color would go well with our house's gray and black exterior and coordinate with our red kitchen cabinets.

Beware:  This stuff smells.
My mom visited for a week and a half in November.  During her stay, we painted both doors, the foyer, and all three bathrooms.  I love her, and could not have done it without her help.

My mom, working hard.  I owe her big time.
We learned that the trick to painting doors is to paint the crevices with a sturdy brush and then use a foam roller for the flat surfaces.  Use painter's tape to cover the locks and glass windows.  Oh, and open the windows to release the fumes... we became a bit loopy halfway through painting.

The doors needed two coats of red for each, and required a solid three hours to dry before we could close them shut.  I initially left the gold hardware as it was, thinking that I could just live with it.  I managed to survive a day with the gold before deciding that it, too, had to go.

Bye, bye, nastiness.

Evan and I love the oil bronze look in hardware, faucets, and light fixtures.  I had originally planned to spray paint all of the gold interior door handles with an oil bronze finish.  After seeing that Lowe's doorknob sets were priced at $10 apiece, however, we decided to just buy new ones instead of salvaging the originals.  My justification for this was that I was unsure how much of a beating spray painted handles could take, and I probably would've gone through four or five spray paint cans for the doorknobs anyway.

So, Evan spent the rest of the afternoon installing 11 new door handles.  The result was, in our opinion, completely worth it.

All of the doors now look brand new.  It is amazing how much of a difference a little paint and a change in hardware can make!

Kitchen door: After

Outside of kitchen door
Inside of front door 
Front door: After!

Revitalized Slate Tables

My brother gave me his coffee table and end table as a wedding gift.  I adore them.  The slate is beautiful and I don't need hot pads or coasters because, well... it's rock.

End table: Before 
Coffee table: Before
Don't mind the dog toys...
I had, however, noticed that both tables scratched easily and were difficult to clean.  With a little scrubbing, both problems were easily resolved, but this happened frequently, which troubled me.  The tables always looked great right after they were washed, but when they dried, they returned to an almost chalky texture.  So, I decided to simply seal the slate with the help of my trusty friend, polyurethane.

First, I cleaned and disinfected both tables very well.  I went through a whole roll of paper towels just to do so -- that's how dirty these tables constantly were.  After the rock was dry, I brushed on one thin coat of polyurethane to each section.  I applied a second coat about an hour later to ensure that the tables could survive a good beating.  The result:  Sealed slate that is still impervious to heat and liquids.

End table: After 
Coffee table: After
I love the glossy look and feel of the tables now!  They always appear freshly cleaned and polished.  They are scratch proof, dirt proof, and the polyurethane truly enhanced the natural colors of the slate.  It was a great, subtle change.

You may find me linking up at these fantastic parties:

Monday: Boogieboard CottageC-R-A-F-TCraft-O-ManiacDittle DattleDIY Home Sweet Home,  Everything Under the MoonGet Outta My Head PleaseThe Girl CreativeThe Graphics FairyMad in CraftsMaking the World CuterOur Delightful HomePolish the StarsRunning with GlitterSew Can DoSew Happy GeekSkip to My LouToo Much Time on My HandsTuesday: All Thingz RelatedA 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 ImperfectSimply DesigningTatertots and JelloWhipperberryYoung and CraftySaturday: Be Different... Act NormalCandace CreationsFunky Junk InteriorsIt's So Very CheriNutmeg PlaceSunday: Embellishing Life with Homemade GoodnessFlamingo ToesNifty Thrifty Things

A Merry and Bright Christmas

We had a lot of fun decorating our house for the holidays this year.  It was a surreal experience.  I kept having to remind myself that the numerous strings of Christmas lights we bought were for our home.  Not for our apartment's porch, not for our dorm room's loft bed... our home.  

That being said, it was really difficult to control our excitement and refrain from creating this:

I absolutely love the cool white and bright red LED lights that they sell nowadays, so we bought every last one of them from Target.  We strung them throughout our azaleas, hydrangea bushes, and our crape myrtle trees.  I plan on planting several more sturdy bushes in the spring, so we'll be able to have more lights next year.  We are also thinking of hanging white icicle lights next year from our roof.

Our house has two peaks -- a larger one above the garage and a smaller one above the front guest room -- which I thought would be perfect backdrops for wreaths.  My mom went to town creating giant candy cane striped bows for the two wreaths and several silver ones for the post on our front stoop. For the life of me, I cannot make bows.  I really wish I could!  

The wreaths themselves were incredibly easy to make, and we got all of the materials from Michael's.  After snipping off the blooms of several silver poinsettias and red hydrangeas, I glue-gunned the flowers in random places throughout the wreath, and then peppered the empty spaces with red berry stems.  It took all of five minutes to create each wreath.  

Evan then braved the ladder and drilled hooks into the bottom slats of our siding to hang the wreaths securely.  We bought two LED spotlights from Lowe's to display each wreath and portions of our house at night.  

We wrapped garland and Christmas lights around the pole on our front porch.  I then stuck the leftover berries in the garland to spruce it up a bit, and finished it with the silver bows that my mom made.

I reused a wreath that I created for our apartment last year for our front door.  Despite being crushed in a box for 11 months, it still looked great -- just needed to be fluffed a little bit.

There's a large entryway between our foyer/living room.  My mom made four bows for each side of the entryway and I draped six poinsettia garlands to frame it.  

There were a series of hooks that had been left under our breakfast counter.  At first, we couldn't figure out what the previous owners had used them for, but then we realized that it was probably for a Christmas decoration of some sort.  Inspired, we added a pine garland complete with bows and wrapped it around the counter on those hooks.

Evan and I bought a fake Christmas tree last year because the apartment complex deemed real ones as a fire hazard.  We still loved our tree, though, so we placed that one upstairs in the bonus room, and bought a real Fraser Fir for our living room.  It was pretty neat having two trees.  We certainly had enough ornaments for them!

Alejandro, our real tree.
Lucy, our fake tree.
The seller's wife loved to decorate the house for Christmas, so he left behind candles and wreaths for each window.  I put up the candles, but didn't have a chance to spruce up the wreaths.  That'll be a project for next year.

Hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Garage Overhaul Ideas

I am unbelievably excited about one of my upcoming projects.  Surprisingly enough, it's the one that I've been looking forward to the most, even above the kitchen renovation... and that is the Garage Overhaul.

The Garage: Before Move-in
Before Move-in
We've got an oversized two-car garage that is patiently waiting a makeover.  It's very white.  The seller left behind a solid work bench, two worn peg boards, and three shelving units that I plan on salvaging.  There are several large cracks in the concrete floor and numerous holes in the drywall that need to be repaired.  There is a lot of opportunities in such a blank space.

Evan absolutely loves to work on cars, and he's developing an appreciation for building things.  I want to create a  functional, organized, durable, and cool garage for him.  I've been designing his new garage in my head for many months now, and I cannot wait until I have the time and money to get started.  I actually got a little impatient last weekend and painted one wall of it.  If it wasn't for the cold weather, the whole thing would've been finished by now!  

Until then, I've enjoyed window shopping through each visit to Sears and looking at garage pictures online to brainstorm new ideas:
Evan's favorite color combination is red and black.  He also has a lot of Craftsman tools.
I think a similar color scheme will be involved...
Love the use of pegboards here.  What a cute, simple ideas for the jars!
We have a ton of sports equipment that I have yet to find an organization solution for.
Love the cabinetry and the flooring!
So pretty!
Can't wait to get started!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mac Attack

Meet Mac Attack.

When we took our first tour of the house last July, we pulled into the driveway and were instantly greeted by this orange cat.  He purred loudly and rubbed against each of our legs.  I've always wanted a cat, and I was in love.  At one point, I even joked to both Evan and our realtor, "Does the cat come with the house?"

Our seller was a sweet guy.  He was a newly-widowed older gentleman who didn't need quite as much space anymore.  We met him in-person on Inspection Day.  At one point, his outdoor cat decided to say hi.  I sat down on the driveway and petted the cat as I listened to the seller tell stories about the house, the neighbors, and how things worked.

"I love your cat," I mentioned.

"Oh, Mac?  You want him?"

Evan and I laughed, thinking he was just kidding around.

"I'm serious.  You can have him," the seller replied.  

The seller further explained that Mac had lived at this house since it was built in 2004. Mac had long since been the ruler of the yard, defending it from other cats and mailmen.  The seller was afraid that Mac would run away Homeward Bound-style to return to the house after the move.  

Needless to say, it didn't take much to convince me to say yes.  And Evan, well... I just puppy-faced him until he agreed to it.  

At closing, the seller left behind all of Mac's vet records, his feeding bowls, his cat bed, and a few months' worth of Frontline and food.  Evan and I had guessed that Mac was probably about eight years old.  And then we glanced at the vet records.  Mac is, much to our surprise, fourteen years old.  

Mac relaxes in our garage, prowls the yard, and sleeps in the mudroom on cold nights.  He pigs out on the new Friskies that we bought for him and preys upon our dogs for sport.  He constantly demands for our affection, and  leaves us little gifts in front of the mudroom door: a couple squirrels, several birds, and a few mice. Evan's in charge of the disposal of these presents.  We joke that he's our vicious guard cat and have lovingly nicknamed him Mac Attack.  

In all, he's a good cat, and has quickly become a part of our family.

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