Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August Flowers

Summer is almost over… and soon I won’t have much to show you by way of blooming beauties.  So, here’s a look at what’s been blooming in the yard this month.

My mandevilla from last year that I overwintered in the house… has bloomed FINALLY!  I finally found a place that has enough sunlight for this guy… but since it’s an annual, we’ll be saying farewell pretty soon.  But at least I got three gorgeous pink blooms out of it this season!


Likewise, the impatiens will be on their way out, soon, too.  But some of my last year’s impatiens came back, so I expect a return next year of at least a few of these plants.  I love them… my flowerbed will be so bare this winter!


This one is called “Bluebeard” and this is its first year of blooms!  Yay!  It’s a nice fall perennial, so we’ll see some more blooms as the summer winds down.


And last but not least, Liriope.  The previous homeowners here must have LOVED liriope because it is all over the place.  And it’s one of my favorite late summer blooms, plus we get to enjoy the green foliage all year long!

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  Happy September!

Are you ready for fall to be here, yet?


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Curtain Call

Today I knocked one more thing off the great to-do list.  That’s the wonderful thing about blogging… it keeps me accountable.  I’m sure you were all sitting by out there waiting for my follow-up post about the Great Shower Curtain Hunt of 2010.  Without that thought, I’m sure the plastic liner would have stayed crumpled up in the shower for a few more weeks while I procrastinated on finishing the shower curtain for the guest bath.  After the makeover in there, we all knew it was time to retire the patchwork shower curtain that I made in college.  You may remember it… 


(I gave it to my Mama to use in her guest bathroom.  It’s pretty cute there, I must admit.)

Well, after two failed attempts to purchase a new shower curtain (one was too green, one shrunk when I washed it… puh!) and three failed attempts to buy fabric to make one (fabric too expensive and too narrow) I finally found something online that I could work with.  Not before I wasted four more dollars on a sample from Fabric.com (too blue).  The winning option came from here.  Although, unless you feel like a sewing project, I wouldn’t recommend you rush right over there and buy one.  That’s because when I washed this one (according to the package directions) it, too, shrunk about 6 inches in length!  What is with these things?  And why do they only shrink in length? 

How high’s the water, Papa?


Obviously, I couldn’t just leave it like that.  So, that brings me to the “custom” bit of the project.  I decided to add a contrasting fabric to the hem to lengthen the curtain to normal size again.  And once again, my local fabric store failed me.  I had a lovely piece of fabric picked out, even had a swatch leftover from another project.  Off I went, armed with swatch, to the fabric store.  Then I spent ten minutes wandering around holding my swatch up to various look-a-likes, only to find that they didn’t have any of the original fabric in stock.  Of. Course.  So I settled (like always) for the next best thing.  A brighter version of my dusty teal blue swatch. 

Home I came, to preshrink it.  (Come on, people!)  Then I simply cut off a few extra inches from the curtain (saving the butterflies for appliqués on another project) and sewed on a 12” strip of my contrasting fabric.  Voila!


I promise that dark blue color is in the print on the shower curtain.  It’s just very hard to tell. :)  With my curtain finished, I was left with a few scraps of fabric with printed butterflies.  I carefully cut out the butterflies, then sized them down to appliqué onto my new guest towels!  I just ironed a bit of fusible webbing on the back then ironed them on the towels and satin stitched to secure.  No antenna, though… you think they’ll miss those?

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Cute.  Can you tell I have a thing for butterflies? 

Just don’t tell Michael, because he hasn’t noticed the infestation yet. ;)

Even though this shower curtain purchase was a long shot, and even though the green color I was hoping to match to my wall color isn’t even in the print, I love the colors in here.  The dark purplish brown looks so nice with the dark mahogany stained vanity (which has a lot of red undertones).  And while I didn’t plan to use teal or blue, it was a happy accident how it all worked out.  I’m even kind of glad that this one shrunk because it gave me the opportunity to customize it.  And I got some matching towels out of it, too.  Score. 


So serene… and so nice to finally have a room finished!  For now. :)


Now I’m just waiting for guests to come use my new towels! And the super clean shower!



Monday, August 23, 2010

Who Wants a [Squeaky] Clean House?

Apparently our vinyl house was dirty.  Not that anyone would notice against the tan siding or the hunter green shutters.  The dirt was doing a great hide and seek job, disguising itself as a shadow on the gutter line, hiding behind a spiderweb on the front porch, and piling up in many layers on our deck, just masquerading as old and graying wood.  But no more!  Mr. Pressure Washer Man (AKA Papa) came to the rescue to seek out and destroy all dirt from the premises!  After two days of soaping, scrubbing, rinsing, and Windexing, (and one hornet sting later—him, not me) our house exterior is squeaky clean.  And it only took four different ladders.  Whew, this is one tall house!  Fresh white (blindingly so!) trim and clean siding have replaced that dingy look that seems to blend in as time goes on.  It’s true you can’t even tell how dirty things are, until you clean them! :) 

Take a look at the transformation:

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Gadzooks!  Who knew our deck was that color under all the green scum?!?

Here are the much more pleasing AFTER shots:

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Our house has a new spiffy look.  At least until the dirt starts to sneak back in again!  :) 


Voila!  Clean House :)    


Friday, August 20, 2010

Operation: Paint the Dining Room

Operation: Paint the House has been underway for a while now.  And since I am on a painting kick, I figured I might as well use up the leftover paint from the bathroom project.  It was the perfect shade to coordinate with our dining room decor!  You may remember the color, it’s called Bayou Shade by Valspar.  It’s slightly more sage than I wanted for the bathroom, unfortunately, but luckily it looks great in here where there’s a lot more light.  Just enough to bring out the yellow undertones for my overly critical discerning eye. ;)

After taping up a sample and getting “approval” from the powers that be, I began the prep work in the dining room.  Spackling the holes, (damn thumbtacks that I have to use during holiday decorating… curse you!) caulking the baseboards (yay caulk gun!) and rolling the first coat happened on the first day.  Then today I did a second coat on the walls and repainted all the trim with semi-gloss white.  Whew, painting is tiresome!  Too bad we are barely halfway done with Operation: Paint the House.  :/

Okay, onwards with the reveal!

You may remember my dining room from this Spring, back before the cushion makeover.  It was sporting cream walls that just blended in with all the other rooms in the house.  Literally.  Except the office, they were all this color.  BLAH.


Presto! Color Change-o!

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And from a different angle:

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I love the new color.  It gives the room a bit more dimension and the white trim really pops against the green.  And the new cream cushions (which I was a bit ambivalent about) look so nice with the new contrasting wall color.  I think the old brown leather ones would really be too dark in the new green room.  So with one more room completed, that brings our total for Operation: Paint the House up to six!  Garage, Laundry Room, Guest Room, Guest Bath, Den, and Dining Room.  Still remaining are the Office (totally needs work), Master Suite (at least have colors planned), Kitchen (clueless!), and Living Room/Foyer (won’t be happening for a while due to scaffolding issues in the great tall foyer).  Much to do, much to do. :) 

The funny thing is that I’m developing a pattern with paint colors (and decor in general as I’m sure you’ve noticed).  So far, I’ve used white and blue each once, yellow and green twice (and the same shade, too!)  Can you tell I hate picking paint colors?  It’s too much pressure! :)  I always freak out when I start to paint with a new color, thinking its too dark or too bright or too blue-ish or too something.  And then as it starts to dry, I compare the wet color to the actual color and I continue to fret and second guess my choice.  Then a miraculous thing always happens—I go away and when I come back, the paint is just perfect… all dry and uniform in color.  That “wet color” is no longer taunting me with “I-am-so-much-fresher-and-lighter-and-better” looks.  I just can’t be friends with wet paint.  :)

Well, this brings us to the end of the big dining room reveal.  Thanks for coming along for the paint saga story. :)  Here’s your parting glance:


I’ll be back with the story of the squeaky clean house, as well as an update in the guest bath! 

Come again soon…


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Staring at Stairs

While my Papa was here pressure washing my house this week, (transformation photos coming soon!)  I had him help me replace the carpet on our lower set of stairs. 

The upper stairs leading up from the foyer are cream Berber carpet while the lower set leading down were sporting the old brown shag carpet that matches the den floors.  And since new den floors are in our future, we decided now was as good a time as any to unite the stairs in one type of carpeting.  Especially now since our fur-Bandit has been using the second step as a scratching place and has shredded the old carpet.  Lucky for us, the previous homeowners had a big roll of leftover Berber carpet from the installation that remained behind when they moved on.  Yay! 

Here’s a look at BEFORE (Abby the bear is demonstrating how to climb stairs while holding a sippy cup):


Here’s one more I snapped of Papa, prying off the transition piece from the steps to the foyer:


My original plan was to do away with the carpet on all the stairs throughout the house.  (It’s so hard to clean carpeted stairs without fancy vacuum attachments!)  Plenty of people in blogland have ripped up their carpet and stained the stair treads in lieu of replacing them with hardwoods.  I love the look of painted risers with stained treads.  Here is my inspiration photo, lovely right?

white risers

But alas, it was not meant to be, my stairs were never made for that.  Of course.  They are just regular pine with nail holes and a nice big gap running down both sides.  And so, we settled on the second best option… matching the carpet.  Here’s what the steps looked like sans carpet, with the dingy but still cushy carpet padding on the treads: 


After ripping up the old carpet (and trying not to inhale the 7 pounds of particulate filth embedded in the fibers), we pulled out all the remaining staples and gave the stairs a good vacuuming.  Next, we measured the width, trimmed the edge of our new carpet and starting stapling it down over the existing padding.  Here’s Bandit helping to hold the 4x4 we were using as a makeshift carpet stretcher.  Lots of pushing, pulling, smushing and stapling ensued.


And voila!  The finished product:


So much better right? 

Here’s a side by side BEFORE and AFTER for ya!

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Although it looks a bit strange now with two different carpets meeting each other at the bottom, someday when we get new den floors, the view will be lovely cherry laminate on the floor transitioning into carpeted stairs.  So, what do you think?  You like the new look or do you think we should have stuck out for hardwood stairs?  For now, I’m enjoying the lighter look and also marveling over how clean the new carpet is compared to the Berber upstairs!!


Hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with me while we stare at my stairs.  I’ll be back with updates of our squeaky clean house exterior and deck (as soon as the rain quits for me to take after pictures) as well as a sneak peek of a new painting project I’m working on!  Stay tuned!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Den Reveal

So, I told you last time about the trim painting in the den.  Well, after I decided to paint the trim (which I had been meaning to do for some time now) I realized that it would be foolish to put all the furniture back without painting the walls!  So, five color samples later (and $15 wasted that could have been spent on new artwork or lamps or something important!) we finally arrived at a color decision.  (Thanks facebook friends who chimed in with your opinions!)  The color we chose is an Olympic stock color called “Cosmic Rays”.  It’s a smidge lighter than the blue color in the couch fabric.  And it has a little green in it.  But not too much. :)  Just right.  It looks pale and fresh and beautiful in the daylight.  If only we had more daylight in the den!  And it deepens to a moody grayish blue green in the evenings with just lamplight. 


Source: Olympic Paints

After settling on a color, I prepped the walls for painting.  Spackling holes and cracks and cleaning the spider webs from the corners.  I am a seriously good housekeeper, clearly. ;)  In the process of spackling and cleaning the walls for painting, I came to realize just how awful the walls in the den are!  Truly, a spackling nightmare.  I don’t know what the previous owners have been applying to the walls down here, but there are spackle spots all over the place, even down near the floor, all in rows… What on earth?  (Not to mention the silicone caulk that they had used to caulk some kind of thermal covering in the windows.  I had to scrape all that off, too!)  Combine that with the patch job from previous water damage next to the sliding glass door and you have a big mess of old patch jobs.  Well, I added my own to the mix, hopefully mine will look a little better than everyone else’s over time.  Then I took up my fancy shmancy new 6” Whizz roller!  This little tool is designed for edging jobs and painting small things like cabinets and furniture, but I’ve seen it on HGTV so many times, I just had to try it!  They use it to paint walls on Designed to Sell, so it must be okay to do that.  I get all of my information from television. :)

Despite the fact that I had to reload the roller like a million times more often than a regular one, I like it.  It’s lightweight and small so it doesn’t make my arm as tired as those big ole 12” rollers.  Plus I have issues with the big rollers; they get to spinning as I roll them off the wall surface and leave little marks behind.  Boo.  The Whizz roller is so small that it doesn’t have a lot of momentum and it never goes off spinning crazy when I don’t want it to. :)  And I like the finish from the fuzzy interior cover, too.  So we (me and the Whizz) put on two coats of paint.  Looks good.

Then I spray painted all the outlet covers and their screws white.  Too bad you can’t just spray paint the switches and outlets, too.  :)  White definitely looks better than almond, even if the switches don’t match the covers.  After everything was dry, I had to put the room back together.  Much needed cleaning ensued; kitty fur was banished from all surfaces.  Then tweaking of the accessories… finally, the big reveal!

I’m sure you remember the before, wood trim, off white walls…


And the new and improved after, sporting white trim and a fresh pale blue paint job:


Here’s another angle for your before and after comparison:



A side by side comparison of the fireplace makeover:

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So, that’s one more room down on my painting the house list.  But naturally, the den isn’t done DONE.  :)  No room is ever done.  Next up on the den project are new roman shades for the windows.  I already have the fabric for this one, so hopefully these will be installed sooner rather than later (she says, knowing that possession of supplies makes no difference in completion time due to procrastination).  I also have a furniture makeover planned (to replace the black cabinet that is taking over the room) and the second cream chair is almost finished.  It will soon be joining its brother down here in the den!  Also on my list is to do something about the inside of the fireplace.  Like painting it with black fireplace paint?  It looks so dingy now, so I’m thinking a fresh coat of paint would unify the look and finish it off nicely.  And last but certainly not least, not in my mind anyway… the Floors!  The awful brown carpet must go… and flying in to replace it will be warm, yummy laminate floors!  Here’s some inspiration for your imagination:

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Merry Christmas to me?angel smiley  Okay, here is your parting glance at my newly painted den.


I’ll be back soon.  Hopefully, after I have visited this corner:


and made some stuff to show you!