Sunday, April 28, 2013

DIY Window Wear



A few readers had questions about how we made the DIY kitchen window treatments shown here in my Oh No-ing to Glowing Kitchen reveal post. Here is a short summary of how we used extra materials from our remodeling projects to make pelmet box style custom window treatments out of leftover wood and fabric.


The materials used for the small window were pieces of beadboard that we had left from the kitchen cabinet trim. The larger window over our sliding door required a more sturdy material to ensure it would be rigid and for that we used MDF. You could use a less sturdy material to construct similar window boxes but for a family that moves as often as we do, they needed to be able to withstand being handled if we wanted to keep them!



If you don't have anything at home that you can use, you will need the following materials:
  • (1) eight foot long 1 X 4
  • (1) 1/8 inch thick sheet MDF
  • Batting (This helps make the edges rounded and will help disguise whatever material you use for the frame)
  • Fabric (I had nearly seven yards but for both windows needed about five)
  • Brad nailer and Staple gun
  • (2) Hanging hardware eyelets
The photos below are of the beadboard but the concept is the same if you are using the MDF.



Step 1 Construct the frame using the 1 x 4 (The width will depend on how far out from each side of window you want to extend)
Step 2 Cut and attach the MDF (Beadboard shown here) with construction adhesive or a brad/finishing nailer
Step 3 Attach the eyelet for hanging onto both ends of the 1 x 4 frame
After constructing the frame, cover completely with batting. We stapled it right to the center board on the back. Then do the same with your fabric, trimming it, pulling it tightly and tucking it under itself as you go. I wrapped the corners like you would with wrapping paper on the sides of a package.

The eyelets will be covered now so use a razor blade to trim the fabric around them and uncover them. You could also try to attach the eyelet after covering the frame but it will be tougher to go through the layers of batting and fabric. 


The fabric I chose has a pattern that is tricky to line up so depending on your fabric choice, be mindful of how the fabric looks on top when you are stapling to the underside!
For the window over our sink the cabinets on either side are close and didn't allow much room so the box is close to the window fame.


For the large window we made the box extend past the window frame two inches on each side and hung it several inches above the window to give the illusion of more height. There is a curtain rod with two white panels hanging behind it.



I purchased seven yards of fabric and covered two window boxes, two barstools, and still have extra so depending on how large your windows are you may be able to get by with much less. Our small window box is 20 X 41 and the large is about 16 X 80.



Happy window styling!



Monday, April 22, 2013

Not So Buried Treasure Hunting in Switzerland

The aspect of military life that I've enjoyed the most has been the opportunity to travel. Besides taking trips all over the world for my husband's job, we spent an amazing two years living in Bern, Switzerland. I'm not kidding when I say that I've been trying to figure out how to move back there ever since we left. Here is a photo from one of our favorite hikes from First to Bachalpsee.


I used to hunt for furniture, art, and other Swiss mementos in nearby brocantes. If you haven't heard of a brocante, it's somewhat the same as a thrift store here in the U.S.

Source: MySwitzerland.com
One of the brocantes I visited often was Interbrocken Haus in Thun. I found beautiful furniture, colorful pitchers, unique baskets, and wooden shoes on my many trips there. When driving up to the store, there were usually paintings and other items for sale on display outside to draw people in. My best 'find' was sitting out in the sun for everyone driving by to spot but somehow it waited patiently for me. The price was written in marker right on the glass and was the equivalent of ten dollars.


I didn't pay attention to the signature but was happy to have found a piece painted in 1924.


This is a photo of the label on the back of the painting:


The title written on the back of the frame on the label reads, "Der Kleine Bernina- See" which I believe translates to The Little Bernina Lake and displays the artist's name, Hans Beat Wieland.

This painting immediately reminded me of the beautiful view pictured at the beginning of this post, from one of our favorite hikes in the Swiss Alps. Because of that I brought it home, completely unaware it was painted by a renowned Swiss artist. We went into the store and passed by this painting as it sat outside on the side of the busy road. On the way to the car to leave, I looked at it again and decided to buy it.  It's amazing to me that photographs I took of alpine scenery, no matter how breathtaking, don't capture the essence of the mountains and the way the sky seems to meet them as the brushstrokes on this canvas do. Here is a closer look:


After we had the painting for a month or so, one of our friends from the embassy in Bern noticed it in our house and asked if he could bring one of his Swiss friends by to see the painting. She was completely taken aback when she saw what I had found at what is essentially a Swiss thrift store. She told me about the artist,  and was a mix of astounded and disappointed to hear what I'd paid for my painting. She told me to take care of it as it was something special and made it clear that she wasn't happy it had been put out on the curb at a brocante! I've never had it appraised but it would be very hard for me to part with regardless of what it may be worth. Since it reminds me of one of the most beautiful views I was lucky enough to lay eyes on and sat in plain sight at the brocante for anyone to notice but went untouched, I feel like it was meant to be mine.




I'm a little embarrassed that I hung the painting in my house and went on my way without thinking to research the name signed on the canvas or displayed on the label on the back of the frame. I like to think I'm a more seasoned thrifter now and that I'm more careful to notice, at the very least, details like the artist's name! Although lucky for me it appears I'm not the only one that wasn't paying attention to that.
What about you? What treasure hunt find means the most to you?






Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Puppy Dog Tails First Birthday Party


I started planning our boy's first birthday party when he was a newborn. We watched as our families and friends threw their children parties for many years before we were able to view one through the eyes of a child of our own so it felt like much more than just a birthday party to plan.

There are so many cute party ideas out there but I had trouble finding something that felt like it fit, most likely because an infant can't be very clear about their likes. Most days, the little one's favorite thing to do was watch our dog or play on his red and white gingham play mat. With only that to go on, my Puppy Dog Tails theme was born! Forget snakes and snails, this boy is all about cute and so was his party.



I love the red puppy dog tail hooks from Ikea that I knew would fit the party theme well and would be great to use as anchors on a 'look at my first twelve months' style banner.

Warning: This little gem of a project requires a year of advance planning and a commitment to a photo shoot at least once a month! I bought onesie number stickers and each month took a photo of him wearing one. It was a really special feature at the party for guests to look at and see just how much the baby changed in such a short time.
Can I have a favorite month? O.K., it was ten months.


The cake was one of my favorite parts of the party. My sister and I decorated it with enough fondant to dye our fingers blue and red. We molded the brown fondant into a little dog rump and made a pile of mud with chocolate frosting that looked like it had the dog's head buried inside of it. I crushed some oreos and sprinkled them on for dirt.


Here is a close up of the puppy tail on the top of the cake:





It wasn't perfect but it was about to meet with one year old hands!

For other decorations, my sister and I painted wooden puppy masks and the kids looked adorable posing for photos with them.



Bright paint cans were decorated with the puppy dog tails and filled with paw print glow lights and other small favors for the kids.


I used red dog bowls from the Dollar Tree with painted wooden bones to hold snacks. Kix and Cocoa Puffs cereal worked well for baby friendly snacks that looked like puppy food.







The birthday boy enjoyed the day and we are so glad that we could share it with family and friends. As a military family it isn't common to be close enough to home to have family there for special occasions and we were grateful that for this special day we did. 




Thursday, April 11, 2013

From Oh No-ing to Glowing: Kitchen Remodel

 Black and White Kitchen Makeover

Looking back at the before photos of the kitchen when we bought our house, I'm happy with every change we were able to make that resulted in what I call the "Oh No-ing to Glowing" kitchen renovation. We knew that the kitchen needed change and luckily we accomplished the remodel before a new baby completely zapped my ability to make a decision, let alone finish a project for quite a few months.

Here is a photo of the kitchen when we bought the house:

Kitchen Before Painting Cabinets White and Replacing Counters
Source: MLS 2010

Our first step was to replace the outdated appliances and then address the cabinet situation.


Here is what we considered:
* Replace cabinets: We quickly realized that wasn't a wise choice both because the cost was outrageous for what we wanted and because our cabinets were in good condition.
* Replace cabinet doors: Again, the cost was quite high to replace doors that had nothing wrong with them other than my dislike for their color and rough texture.
* Stain the cabinets a darker wood tone: I was not in love with the idea of darkening anything in a kitchen that more than anything needed to be brightened.
* Paint them: Ding, ding, ding! We had a winner! My husband used his magic and turned our rough, builder grade cabinets into smooth white beauties. They are smooth.

After Photo of Black and White Kitchen Remodel


After sanding the doors to remove the old finish, he covered them with a brushing putty from Fine Paints of Europe in order to fill in the grain. This extra step before priming and painting helped completely cover the heavy grain and running your hands over the cabinets now, you wouldn't have a clue how rough they were originally. He used a Zinsser oil based primer followed by two coats of Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo in White Dove for the finish and I couldn't be any happier with it. To finish the cabinets off, he added beadboard trim on the sides facing out and crown molding to the top all the way around.



Black and White Kitchen with Quartz Island

With the money that we saved refinishing the cabinets ourselves, we were able to upgrade the teeny tiny island to a larger one with tons of storage. My husband built a bump up off the front of the island in order to make a bar area that we use every time we host a dinner to serve snacks or set up cocktails. I take away the barstools and it makes a perfect standing-height snack and drink area. People end up standing around the island no matter where we set up seating.
Here is a closer look at the bump up he built on to the end of our kitchen island:


DIY Fabric Barstool Covers from Ikea

I was pregnant when we chose and ordered our countertops. The reason I mention this is that I blame all clouded thinking and judgement on my pregnant brain. The day that they were installed I was at work and came home to find that they had installed the WRONG countertops. This could really be another post but in short, there were two similar quartz color choices at Lowes called Abyss Black and Abyss. When we placed the order, we failed to notice our order listed the wrong color and that wrong color was dark green. It would have been a crisis and an extremely expensive mistake but the manager of our Lowes came to the rescue and allowed us to replace the countertops they had just installed with the ones we wanted even though it was largely our fault. We were very lucky. Here is a close up (with a baby photo bomb) of the black counters we wanted.

Black Quartz Counters

After the appliances, cabinets, and counters were updated, our final job was to replace the worn vinyl flooring with new tile. There were nailheads showing through the floor so there wasn't any way we could make it work or cover it with enough rugs to be able to live with it. A large part of the budget for this remodel was spent on the flooring which we hired out rather than do ourselves. At the time, I pregnantly thought (yes that's a way of thinking) that tile was the most practical for a kitchen. I'm not sure I was right but the light tile brightens the kitchen so much more than the old brown vinyl.

Eating in the Shower kitchen remodel with the perfect gray paint color

After two tries, some tears, and good advice from a friend, we got the gray wall color right with Benjamin Moore Platinum Gray. It is exactly what we wanted- never looks blue or lilac in any light. I added some DIY pelmet boxes done in a bold black and white fabric to the window above the kitchen sink and the sliding door to polish off the room. The mirror was a clearance find at Homegoods spray painted white and the big fork from Hobby Lobby was brown until it also tangled with a can of spray paint. The kitchen and happy signs are also from Hobby Lobby and they were just fine the way they were!

 DIY Black and White Fabric Pelmet Box

One last look at the before and after photos:
Black and White Kitchen Before and After

 Being in our kitchen makes me very, very,


White kitchen cabinet with black and white pelmet box


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Personalize a Nursery: Planes, Trains, and Trucks Banner


 It felt a little silly when we bought a house with four bedrooms even though it was just the two of us and Scout at the time. Scout doesn't realize that he is a dog and sleeps in our room so we ended up having what were basically three guest rooms. I filled one of them with office furniture, books, and crafting supplies and turned the closet into office supply storage. The two bedrooms that used to belong to the boy and girl that lived here before us were blue and purple. I started working full time before we even moved in so we put beds in those rooms and really didn't look at them again. We had no need for guest rooms anymore after military orders somehow stationed us in our hometown and our visiting family no longer needed to stay the night! Of course the hope, as always, was that the rooms would be for our own children but after so many years waiting we were never certain that was going to happen. Looking back I find it interesting that I didn't paint those rooms right away, like they still belonged to the little ones who had lived here before until mine was ready to move in.

Four months after we moved in, we were beyond any word that goes here when we found out we were going to have a baby. When we found out that we were having a boy I decided that I wanted to decorate his room in red, white, and khaki/beige. I know I've mentioned before how I love red. I just can't get enough of it. Part of the reason I got married in December was so that my wedding dress could be red and white. I really like the way touches of red work in a boy's nursery in place of blue and made up my mind as much as any pregnant mind can be made up that I would avoid using blue. The response when people shopped our registry for baby gifts was amusing because people really, REALLY want to buy something blue for a boy and there was not a single blue item on there!


We chose Benjamin Moore's Bleeker Beige for the wall color. It reminds me of a great pair of khakis that go with whatever shirt you are wearing. Decorating a room without using themes that can be overdone or common nursery colors and without spending a fortune required me to make my own wall hangings and repurpose others. I made the letter N shadowbox wall hanging with ribbon and scrapbook paper and had the red star already. I had a collection of Ikea Bastis hooks because I loved them as leash hangers and just because they are so adorable. I knew they would be fun to use for the banner hangers. Puppy dog tails in a boy's room. What could possibly be any cuter?!

I made the banner for the nursery using some of my favorite red and white gingham and thick white scrapbook papers. Our boy loves trains, planes, trucks, and helicopters so I'm glad I chose pictures of things that represent what he likes rather than hanging a banner that I saw for sale somewhere that was popular at the moment. He can enjoy looking at it from his crib now and it will look cute in his room over time as he grows into toddler and little boy styles. (Why do they have to do that?)
I used clip art for the truck, planes, and train, traced them onto the white scrapbook paper and then cut out and glued them to the gingham paper. I threaded white yarn through and hung both sides with the puppy dog tails. It was a quick project and I always intended to laminate or mod podge the paper to make it more durable.  I hung the banner under a monogram made from Pottery Barn Kids letter decals. For a long time the banner hung in the nursery like this:


Not too bad for a sleep deprived mom who admittedly struggled with time management to the point of eating in the shower. Almost a year went by and I realized it was time to get to work finishing it or the banner might be damaged when we move. I took thick poster board and cut backing triangles for each pennant. I used spray adhesive to attach them and then applied several coats of mod podge to make them stiff and durable. Here is the new banner:


 I love the sweet and personal touch that it gives the room and my little one loves to look at it. Above all, it is a good feeling to know that I made it just for him.

For the most part, I managed to keep the color blue out of the nursery, but this Noah's ark mobile is one of my favorite things in the room. I found and just fell in love with it at Mango Tree Imports, a fair trade retail store in Ballston Spa, NY.  It is bright, unique, perfect because my son's name is Noah, and I think it will continue to work in his room as he gets older without seeming too babyish. There is so much to look at on this mobile and it's so beautifully made, it steals the show. We like to spin it and watch as the animals fly out to the side like the swings ride at the fair.


There is a lot to be said for making sure items in a child's room have personal meaning and aren't just a trend or a hot at the moment theme. I'm sure there is going to come a day when he wants me to buy him Chuggington bedding or some other character related decor so I wasn't in a hurry to force any on him when he was still too young to tell the difference between the Very Hungry Caterpillar and the Itsy Bitsy Spider.
Hope you enjoyed this little nursery tour! If you made a banner for your little one, are they a "planes, trains, and trucks" baby or what items would represent them best?


Linking up to:
Cozy Little House
DIY Showoff
It's Overflowing
Nifty Thrifty Things
The Sunday Showcase Party
Mop it Up Monday
Making the World Cuter
Give Me the Goods Monday
Coastal Charm
The Winthrop Chronicles
Savvy Southern Style

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Monogram Wreath for Spring


  
We have had this large black G hanging in the foyer since we moved in. As many times as I have decorated every nook of the house for the holidays or with the changing seasons and as often as I use grapevine wreaths, I hadn't done anything with the G.

I picked up this extra large wreath and forsythia garland and made a very quick and simple spring themed wreath. It is just startling what a difference it makes in this space. It makes me realize how empty the space above the door looked before without the addition of a bit of bright color. There is so much natural light streaming in the door and windows all day that it was easy to miss the need for something else to brighten the space.


 

On a side note, it is snowing here and despite my best attempt to convince myself that it is a beautiful spring day, it is so COLD. I will continue to cover the inside of my house with flowers as long as this keeps up. Someone let me know when they start popping up outside. I'm not coming out until then.



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