Posts from the ‘Before Photos’ Category

It’s a woman’s prerogative, right?

People used to ask me how the condo was coming along, and my answer almost always seemed to be “Really great, we’re almost done decorating!” I would laugh along when they replied “You’re never really done. And when you are, it’s time to move.” But in my head I would think how every decision I’ve made thus far is beautiful and wonderful and I’ll never grow tired of it.

Apparently never is equivalent to 8 months in the life of a decorator.

I’ve slowed down considerably in the past few months, happy, nay – ecstatic, with the way things were. But now as the holidays have become just a memory and the decorations are stored away in the office closet, I’m charging full force back into condo decor.

Our bedroom has become dull and lifeless.

Our office is lacking a craft space.

 

 

Our bathroom resembles an olive. 

You’re probably shaking your heads, some of you knowing this feeling all too well, some of you bewildered with my seemingly sudden change of heart. But fret not! All these rooms need are a little tweak here, a pop of color there, and I will be back on my honeymoon!

We moved here in May. With the whole summer ahead of us, I was out every night gathering inspiration and creating magic (aka beautiful decor), thanks to the sights and scenes that can be taken in while enjoying outdoor seating at 1 of the many restaurants on our block.

With the winter months upon us, all I want to do is go home and cuddle up on the couch in my snuggie. A boring home makes me sluggish, a sluggish me makes a boring home, what a conundrum! Well Mother Nature can’t get me down! Effective immediately, I will be assigning myself homework and deadlines. Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook to keep up with my daily homework assignments and to offer suggestions for projects.

Viva la Condo!

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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.

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.

DIY: Headboard

 

 

What you will need:

 

  • Plywood
  • Fabric
  • Foam
  • Batting
  • Drill
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Tape measure
  •  

 

Your local hardware store has the plywood you need and will cut it to size for you. Both of the above headboards are cut to 5 feet wide for a queen size bed. They are also both 4 feet high (you’ll need to account for what hangs below the top of the mattress. These both start at the top of the boxspring, therefore appearing 3 feet high above the mattress). You can have it cut wider (or buy additional pieces) to extend past the mattress above both nightstands for a more prominent look. I bought an 8′ by 4′ piece of plywood from Home Depot for $16.

You can buy both the foam and batting, cut to size, at a fabric or craft store. I buy mine at Joann Fabric. With the never-ending coupons they offer, you can get the foam for around $2/yard (depending on how thick you want it..I used 1 inch). The batting is $3 a yard. The foam should be the exact size of the plywood (you’ll probably need 2 separate pieces because of the widths available). For a 5ft x 4ft headboard, I bought 10 feet of 2ft wide foam and cut it into 2 5ft halves. (You’ll see what I mean below). The batting will be wide enough so you’ll only need 1 piece. Make sure to buy 1 foot more than you need to enable it to wrap around and be stapled onto the back of the plywood. The fabric of your choice should be the same size as the batting.

If you want a tufted headboard, decide how many rows of tufts you’ll need, and how spaced apart they will be. You’ll need a pencil for this. I used 7 tufts in the top row of both my own headboard and my mom’s. For my mom’s I used 7 in the second also. For mine, I put 8 in the middle row and 7 in the bottom. There’s some math involved here but I’ll try to explain it as simply as possible.

For a 4 foot high headboard, the mattress is 1 ft thick. I measured 1 foot from the bottom and drew a line from side to side. This part will hang below the mattress. and therefore is not visually a part of the headboard. I divided the remaining 3 feet into even rows. My own headboard has 3 rows, starting 10 inches from the top, with 8 inches between rows. My mom’s has 2 rows, starting 10 inches from the top, with 1 foot between the 2 rows.

Measure down 10 inches (or whatever you decided) from the top and draw a line from side to side, making sure it’s even. Do the same for your second row (and third and fourth if you choose).

For a 5 foot headboard, I wanted a foot on each side with no tufts. That leaves 3 ft to be tufted 7 times. 36 inches divided by 7 tufts (6 spaces between the 7 tufts) leaves 6 inches between tufts. Phew! I promise this is the hardest part!

Measure along the line in the increments that you chose (In this case, start 1 foot from the end and every 6 inches from there, until you have 7 marks). Repeat for remaining rows. 

Drill a hole into each marking.

Once you have evenly spaced holes where your tufts will go, you’re ready for the fun part.

Lay the batting down on the ground, making sure it’s smooth. Place the foam on top of it, leaving excess batting on each side.

Carefully lay the plywood on top..it helps to have a second set of hands here but it’s not necessary.

Now..staple away!

Once the majority is stapled along all 4 sides, stand the board up and make sure it’s smooth. Don’t fret if it’s not, just pull taut and staple some more.

Next, drape the fabric over and continue stapling.

Hospital corners:

Voila!

The tufting is a little hard on the fingers, but it’s easy enough. If you’re using beads with a large enough hole, you can use twine. I was using pearls from the Potomac Bead Company, and I had to use sewing string because of the small hole. It is easier to hide from the front, but doesn’t create as dramatic of a tuft due to fear of breakage.

Thread the string through a thin needle and go from back to front through the holes you pre-drilled in the plywood. At the front, thread the bead on and then go back through the same hole.

At the back, staple the string close to the hole, staple it again an inch further and make a knot. Then staple it a third time closer to the hole to create a triangle. If you’re using large enough beads, you can put a staple in the front right under the hole to create a deep tuft, but only if the bead will hide the staple and your staple gun is strong enough to hold the foam to the plywood.

The result of all your hard work:

A beautiful couture headboard!
 
With all different fabric materials, colors, and beads, this simple formula can create a wide variety of headboards.
Feel free to ask questions if any clarification is needed.

Master Suite Makeover Part 2

I completed most of the groundwork for my mom’s bedroom this past weekend. Headboard, check. Rearrange furniture, check. Acquire seating at a bargain price, check. Paint, che…let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But the colors are picked out and purchased.

The border came down with no problem at all (not photographed yet). The right wall behind the bed will be the taupe color shown in the photos above and below. The rest of the room will be a darker shade of purple.

The colors look a little skewed here, but the headboard and new wall color on the left are almost identical shades of purple. To dress the bed up a little, I plan on replacing the current matching bed skirt with a purple tailored skirt. Some bigger, more prominent pillows in coordinating colors will also be added. In place of the purple afghan will be a darker, plusher throw blanket to add contrast. (The left nightstand is spaced unevenly from the bed because of a vent, but I’ve got a plan for that).

These photos were taken prematurely. The room is still very much “in progress,” but after only a few hours spent over 1 weekend, the heavy labor is done. Only one wall remains to be painted, artwork to be found, lamps be purchased, and new window treatments to be hung. “Final touches,” as I call them.

 

While I originally planned on 2 accent chairs near the window, this chaise jumped out at me at Home Goods. Originally priced at $300 (which is already 20%-60% lower than department and specialty stores), it was marked down to $200. The color will look beautiful in the bedroom and along with a storage chest at the foot of the bed, will provide a perfect seating area for my mom and her sisters.

I’m still thinking about this armoire. The only thing I know is that it is not staying there. With the addition of the chaise that will go under either window, the armoire will be returned to caddy corner or placed against the right wall. Ideally though, I would love for the chaise to go under the right window. If only I could find a new place for that cumbersome armoire.

Stay tuned for a Headboard How-to as well as the “After” photos of the Master Bedroom Makeover.

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