Posts from the ‘After Photos’ Category

This is what I get for not being an architect…

Or maybe it’s what I get for not taking measurements. Anyway…

When Chris and I bought our condo the dining room measurements were listed as 8’x8′ on MLS Trend. When we got our condo appraised, the floorplan drawn up in the paperwork also noted the dining room as 8’x8′. When I bought a 16′ piece of wood from Home Depot and had it cut in 2 for the dining room bench, I assumed both pieces were 8′. So when I bought four 8′ pieces of wood for the bench back this week, I assumed they would fit.

Well it turns out our dining room is actually 7’10” x 7’10”.

The wood is still 8′.

Uh oh.

So after 3 trips to Lowe’s in 2 hours Wednesday night, the bench back is secured and upholstered..and standing on its side behind the dining room bench.On the bright side, the bench is reupholstered in this beautiful, more appropriate, more luxurious fabric. The brown pleather was nice in theory, but it was purchased before we painted the room. The red washed out the brown and it just looked cheap. I stapled the new fabric right over the pleather plus another layer of batting, so it’s plusher than ever.The Instructional:

I laid down the fabric first, smoothing out all wrinkles. The batting went over that and the wood over that. I utilized Chris to make sure the wood went down in its place in 1 try, as to not snag or fluster the batting. I didn’t think of how I would secure the 4 long pieces until I got home with the wood and realized I would need to lay a thin 1 inch piece perpendicular. This photo shows the 2″ pieces that I purchased as the bench sides, but they were too thick. So began my 1st of 3 journeys to Lowe’s.I purchased three 1″ thick pieces of wood to secure the four 8′ pieces. To ensure a tight fit for the fabric, I stapled the batting and fabric around all 4 sides before screwing on the 3 smaller pieces.Since this couldn’t safely rest on top of the bench, I had to head back out to Lowe’s for a picture hanging kit (This was actually the 3rd trip as the 2nd trip I forgot my wallet…where is my head these days?). I partially hammered the rings in until they were tight enough to screw in (a screwdriver can’t be used with these). After tying the wire through 3 rings it was ready to hang.The kit also included U-brackets to hang the wire upon. Each of these can hold 75 lbs. I used 2, 1 for every 4 feet.Re-upholstering the bench was a breeze. I pulled the bench a foot away from the wall, turned it on its side and laid the batting on top of the pleather.I repeated this step with the fabric and turned the bench on its other side to staple the bottom.Since the back was way too heavy and Chris wasn’t home, it took me about an hour of maneuvering and pivoting until I realized the back was too long. My shoulder muscles ache today just from getting it over the bench to its upright position.Being the optimists that we are, we didn’t let this snafu hinder us from enjoying Chris’ birthday dinner in our dining room. Truffle fries, grilled sausage with carmelized onions, and filet mignon à la Daddy Mims. Delicious!Excuse the lighting..Ambiance isn’t captured well on film.

2011 Resolutions

Is it really possible to leave all that we dislike in 2010 and bring only good things forward? Maybe not. But the point of New Years’ resolutions is to better ourselves over time, right? I like to think that I have the willpower to change bad habits as they occur, but the truth is I like to binge on the unhealthy and inconvenient until I can take no more. So here are my New Years’ resolutions for 2011:

1. Work out more. I am happy to say that I am 4 for 4 in the gym this week. (May be 4 for 5 due to this lazy snow day). You may be thinking “Day 5? Today is January 7th, where is she getting ‘Day 5’ from??” Obviously weekends don’t count when it comes to diet and exercise. This couch sure is looking cozy right about now.

2. Decorate more. As I went through old notebooks, cleaning up my workspace, I came across home plans that I drew up months ago. Some I accomplished halfway and some never got further than the pen hitting the paper.

Among such were dining room drapes. It is true that I bought, hung, and steamed the drapes. However, that is as far as I got. The drapes are still loosely hanging with no drawback. (I taped them back with electrical tape for the photo below. Shame on me). Instead of presenting the dining room like a pretty little package, it resembles the balcony of a beach house with wet, sandy towels drying to a stiff uncomfortableness (only more silky and soft than stiff and uncomfortable). It is also asymmetrical. I’m not encouraging perfect symmetry in every aspect of a home, but the entrance to our dining room is too wide to have only one side dressed.

Also on the list was the dining room bench. With the haste stapling and the lack of foam and batting, I had planned on reupholstering the bench while also adding sides and a back. This will ideally give a more sophisticated-lounge-like feel rather than a playground-picnic-like feel.

Last in the notebook of procrastination was the Master Suite Makeover. I started on my mom’s bedroom a few months back and progressed pretty far during the 2 weekends I spent on it. But with the holidays and my own home plans, the master makeover fell to the back burner. This morning I came across the original plans I had for the room, and while I’ve got to say that the floorplan itself is close to complete, isn’t it really all about accessorizing?

The footboard doesn’t yet exist. The 2 chairs in the ‘seating area’ have become 1 chaise, table yet to be found. The TV is on the opposite wall to the left of the bed. Other than that, this is spot on. But the accessories! The tables need lamps, the seating area needs an area rug, the walls need art, the windows need drapes, etc, etc!

This photo is pre-paint.

3. Take and post photos regardless of progress. In the past, I have hesitated to take photos in the before and during stages. While this may seem shallow and vein, it is really mere forgetfulness (with maybe a dash of vanity). I would clean from top to bottom in preparation of a photo shoot, and regret it later when I am explaining only in words how long and hard I worked on any given project. For example, in 2010 I would have never posted these cringe-worthy photos of our office during laundry day (laundry week).

Stage 1: Wait until clean laundry builds up on the floor and the closets are empty.

Stage 2: Sort laundry into his and mine, foldables and hangables.

Stage 3: Rejoice in clean room

 

4. Be more efficient at doing laundry.

 

I hope everyone’s 2011 is off to a great start and I look forward to jumping back into inexpensive elegance now that the hectic holidays are over.

The VIP lounge gets a little more VI

Let there be light! My dad finally made his way over to fix our dining room light. We have ceiling fans in every room, only 1 has a light. It’s not necessary in the larger rooms because we have lamps but the dining room could not be used without a ceiling light. I tried to install it myself, and was about 95% accurate…just forgot to strip the wire. Now I know.

Since the light installation, I feel as if our condo has grown by about 70 sq. ft. We have a room in which we can dine! Who’d have thought? I was so excited that I had to hang the corbels right away. I came up with a layout and measured accordingly. The installation was very easy. Hammer and hang. I also found a 12 pack of candles..with votives..earlier in the day for $6. Could it be any more perfect?

There are 8 on the back wall and 2 on each side wall.

Still looking for a pullback for the drapes.

Making things pretty

I’ve shown furniture pieces that I wallpapered in previous posts, but never before have I shown the process. That changes now.

I’ve been wanting to wallpaper the built-in center unit in my bedroom closet for a while now, but didn’t want to deal with taking it down. so I started smaller.

While cleaning up the office for our housewarming, I came across a small drawer that I bought months ago from Target when we were first moving. It had been sitting under the desk for months, unused. So I inserted it into my vanity without measuring…luckily it fit like a glove!Then I applied wallpaper glue using a neat little rolling sponge. This baby goes miles!

This wallpaper is from the same roll I bought off ebay for $10. More wallpaper than I could ever need…who am I kidding, I’ll find a way.

Press the wallpaper on with a smoothing tool..any straight edge will work really..to get out all air pockets.Go over the edges with a box cutter to obtain neat edges.Finito!

Pre-vanity I kept all my jewelry and makeup in drawers at the bottom of the office closet. I freed those up for guest linens, arts & crafts, miscellaneous storage, and sewing accessories. Any chance I can to improve storage, I jump at.

My vanity gets better looking each day 🙂

Now that I am experienced with wallpapering vertically, I can tackle the closet built-in. Stay tuned!

Quick barstool update

These barstools were given to us by our dear friends G & L. They were too tall for our counters and a little plain for our decor, but fancy barstools can cost anywhere from $40 to $120 a piece. So  I used what I know. L’s dad was kind enough to chop off 5 inches (the man has every tool imaginable), making them the perfect height for our breakfast buffet (I like ample room to cross my legs). Main problem solved. Secondly, I wanted to add a seat cushion to dress them up a tad.

This is a fairly simple project:

First I laid the stools on top of batting and cut around. Make sure to leave enough room to staple.

Staple around perimeter before laying on top of fabric.Repeat stapling on fabric.

The fabric adds just the little bit of pizzazz I was looking for without detracting from the more focal furniture pieces in the room. I used the same blue micro suede on a floor pillow that rests a mere feet away (not pictured here). It ties the pieces together to avoid the random look that few people are fond of.

I love this cherry wood barstool found at CSN Stores for $78. We still have the red oak stain that we used on our coffee table, therefore the stools may get a little more dramatic in the near future.

If you have a bar in your home, you can save money on barstools by purchasing them used on craigslist or at a thrift store. With a little help from a staple gun and a trip to JoAnn’s, they’ll be brand new for much less.

Tiny Dancer

Since cohabiting, Chris and I have realized that we have very different tastes in art. He likes cityscapes, but not of places he has no connection to. I like abstract, something that can be seen in different lights. We both agreed that we don’t want something that everyone has. You know how embarrassing it is to be seen at a party in the same dress as someone else? We feel the same way about art. Ikea would naturally be the place to go for inexpensive, trendy wall art. But it’s instantly recognizable.

Ikea - $59.99 (3' x 4.5')

Home Goods and TJ Maxx have unique pieces, but are either too “girly” or over-priced, or both. Then we turned to Etsy. Etsy provided some quality pieces that we may turn to in due time. At present, however, we needed something fast (potentially spending hundreds on sight unseen requires some deliberation). So, the creative couple that we are, we decided to make our own painting.

We bought canvas in a pack of 7 for $19.99 at Michael’s. We bought 2 tubes of light blue paint ($0.88 each) and a large tube of black paint ($4). The yellow paint we had left over from our living room walls.

First we chose a lay-out for how to hang the canvas on the wall. Then we drew a checker pattern, spacing the lines 4 inches apart with a ruler.

After labeling each diamond with a “b” for blue and “y” for yellow, we went to work painting.

We let these dry overnight before painting the silhouette.

We lined the canvases up like a puzzle before drawing the dancer. We lined up the posterboard on top of the canvas so we could make sure she was drawn to scale. We both had a hand in drawing. I initially drew her, then Chris edited an arm, a leg, the hair, and the waist, before I redrew the hands and feet. Teamwork at its finest.

Paint inside the lines, then put back together. The puzzle was much easier this time around.

There you have it. One of a kind wall art that we can take pride in, all for under $30.

Hiding cable wires

It has been a busy busy week. We have our long awaited housewarming party tomorrow (we’ve been living here 6 months now) and I had much to get done before showing our new place off to a bevy of friends. Loads of DIY and even more loads of photos.

Among such are:

  • hiding cable wires
  • creating a one-of-a-kind wall art on the cheap
  • upholstering wooden barstools
  • wallpapering furniture

I will also post some beautiful “after” shots of my dining room, living room TV wall (very rare in previous posts), bedroom vanity with improved storage and organization, and our office closet that was once used as what-we-have-yet-to-unpack-because-we-have-nowhere-for-it-to-go storage.

Let’s get started!

Our TV wall with our fancy new fireplace was greatly devalued by this unsightly cable wire. I knew what had to be done, but between all my trips to Home Goods and Boscov’s, Home Depot just wasn’t a priority. With the party quickly approaching, I could put it off no more.

The materials: This 9-piece cable concealer kit came in a pack for $10. The 3 ft. cable extension and connectors were an additional $6.

The tunnels have a tight opening that the wire must be squeezed through. It can be a little difficult initially but with the help of some pliers and maybe a second person, it’s easy enough.

There is a self adhesive strip on the back (which is flat) for easy application to any wall or molding. Just peel and press.

The corners are a little tricky. They don’t have a back because the wire would be very difficult to feed through, and if you were able to feed it through (which I have never tried) I can imagine it would be tough to adjust if need be. Instead, it just snaps on, which maybe look messy at first, but once both straight ends are on, it will look professionally done.

Paint it accordingly and Voila! a wall mounted TV sans wires. I only painted the section that crossed the wall, mostly to avoid using painter’s tape, but the molding conceals the concealer enough for my taste.

 

I may have mentioned before our dilemma with where to place the TV upon move-in. Our breakfast buffet is the only divider between the kitchen and living room. Therefore, we really only have 3 walls in our living room, and 1 of those 3 walls (above) is part of the “hallway” from the front door. But in a small condo, utilizing every inch is necessary. If we used this wall as the said “hallway,” we would cut approximately 64 sq. ft. off of our living room and the TV would have to be watched from an uncomfortable angle. Seeing how it came out makes me wonder how we ever doubted this option.

Like magic…

Until tonight I kept my cookbooks above the kitchen cabinets. While they looked OK from a decorative aspect, they were impossible to reach without hoisting myself up on the counter. They were practically useless because the location discouraged me from cooking. And I swear, I really do enjoy cooking.

 That all changed tonight when I stopped into Hipster Home to pick up a few concealed wall shelves.

I’ve been wanting these for a while and when I saw them in HH’s Christmas display window, I knew I could hesistate no more. For only $15 a piece, it is such a cool way to display books.

I love the way the books appear to be floating. My cookbooks are now easily accessible while still decoratively displayed. They really add interest to the wall. I’m all for a cool painting but this kind of wall art is what really gains attention.

Anyone can have a plain bookshelf in their home, but this alternative turns your books into art.

Can’t wait for wine by the fire!

We mounted our TV months ago, but it took us forever to find a solution for all the wires. My dad installed an outlet behind where the TV would go so the TV and cable box can be plugged in out of sight. But there is a wire connecting the box to the TV that must be hidden. After much research and the decision to not risk cutting into the wall or hire a professional, we decided on a small shelf directly beneath the TV. Unfortunately our cable box was ginormous and we couldn’t find a shelf to accommodate it. So we went to Comcast and put our names on a waiting list for a smaller box. After weeks and weeks we FINALLY got called and traded our box in for something slightly smaller.

So this past weekend, we hung the IKEA shelf right on top of the TV, with only the cable wire still showing…solution for that TBD.We haven’t bothered tucking the above wires in yet because of the nagging white cable wire…but all will be hidden in due time. The Ikea Lack table that is now my vanity used to sit beneath the TV. It clashed with our coffee table and also wasn’t the right shape or height for the space. So now we had to find something to fill in this blank wall. Brainstorm: a small table for our music player, a backless sofa, a storage ottoman, a large chest. I thought of everything! Seats were out because who would want to sit under a TV. It would be nice to pull up to the coffee table while entertaining, but impractical overall. A table or storage trunk seemed like the way to go but they had to be the right height. So while browsing Home Goods with my tape measure and camera out, I stumbled across this…An electric fireplace! I know some people have strong opinions about this because the flame never looks real, but that’s not my main concern. I wanted something that served as a shelf and that was nice to look at. I left the store empty-handed and had to weigh my options. The store only had 1 and I’d never seen 1 so cheap before, $200. I almost turned the car right around to go back, but I thought it better to go back to work and let it settle for the rest of the afternoon. I emailed the man and asked him what he thought. His first reaction: “Is it dangerous?” So I googled and sent him all kinds of links reassuring him that it’s basically a space heater and everyone has one. We returned to Home Goods together after work. I showed him all the other options I had seen before bringing him to the fireplace. He stood in front of it for a half hour while I walked around browsing other ideas.

Finally, I brought a salesman over, showed him the tiny scratch on the bottom left hand corner and asked him what we could do about it. He knocked it down to $150. When we hesitated, he reminded us of the 30 day return policy. Sold.

He wheeled it up to the front for us and at least 3 people stopped on the way out to ask if it was sold. We also left the store with this neat little camera next to the fireplace. We’re planning on a tall vase to the left and maybe a vintage book collection or a candle and a plant on the mantle.If you haven’t figured it out already, we threw the tags and receipt out and won’t be making use of their 30 day policy.

 

Window treatments are such a treat!

I finally finally found affordable drapes!! And what a difference they make in a room. Boscov’s seemingly ongoing curtain sale finally came through for me and my condo. I remember months ago stopping into Boscov’s after seeing a commercial for their amazing kitchen sale. While I drooled over knives and coffee makers, my friend was busy looking at drapes. It was before we moved and I didn’t have measurements nor have I ever had to purchase drapes for previous apartments, so I didn’t give it a second thought. It only took me 5 months to remember how good their prices were. It’s not custom made and you do have to dig through their “self-serve” section to find anything longer than 63″ but it’s oh so worth it. Drapery rods and other accessories are best bought at TJ Maxx for $7-$14, but for the actual curtains…Boscov’s is the place to go.

I started out with Ikea tulle in our bedroom..2 packs for $5 each. But it added no texture, no dimension, no color…it was just boring. Instead of wasting the $10, I added Liquid Gold brand drapes ($10 each) in gold to either side.

My bedroom now feels like a 4-star hotel room (it will get to 5 once we dress the walls up a bit), which is exactly the look I was going for. No dressers or armoires taking up space. All clothes are kept neatly in the closet or in the footboard drawers.These drapes have not yet been steamed 😮

I had no idea my windows were even this large! The living room drapes give off the illusion of a beautiful picture window. I’m still shopping for pillows and also a throw blanket to break up the bland color of our most comfortable couch. The 5 panels above were all $9.99 each. The blue ones are reversible and come in a variety of colors. The ones above are light blue and teal blue, but they also had more contrasting pairs such as cream and amethyst. (Again, these haven’t been steamed).

What a difference!The only undressed windows that remain are in the office, and the color choice for that is proving to be a difficult one.

 

On an unrelated note, my corbels came in the mail Monday for the dining room! I hope to have them painted and hung by this Monday…I’ll remember to take step by step photos.

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