Category Archives: Master Bedroom

We’ve Been Framed!

Hers.

I’ve been wanting to add something to the blank wall in our bedroom to add some interest to that side.  I was stuck on what to do though.  We already had an iron piece above the bed (more on that here) and a mirror on the wall opposite to the bed (seen here) so I needed something different.  I settled on creating a gallery wall after finding these inspiration pictures on Pinterest.

Source: 4 Men 1 Lady

Source: Better Home and Gardens

Source: Pinterest, Two Twenty-One

It would add personality to our room through personal photos and art while also taking up a decent amount of room (did I mention it’s a BIG blank wall?).

First up was finding the floating shelves.  The shelves in my inspiration pictures were simple white shelves but I wanted something chunkier and a little more decorative.  I struck out at the first few stores (Target- not long enough and a little on the expensive side at $25 each compared to others I’ve seen, Michael’s- no decorative options) but finally lucked out at Christmas Tree Shops where I found not only the perfect shelves but the perfect price- $9.99 each.  DONE.

Knowing I needed quite a few frames, I next ventured to IKEA to pick up some RIBBA frames.  These frames are great- they’re simple black frames that come with white mats already in them.  Now the question was how to lay all this out.  I carved out a section in the IKEA frame area and got to work building a few different options to decide what size frames to take home.

   

After the fourth dirty look from a fellow shopper trying to reach a frame in my construction zone, I reached my final decision.  I would put four frames on each shelf.  Here’s the breakdown of what I bought:

1 RIBBA 8″ x 10″ black photo frame: $9.99

1 RIBBA 20″ x 9″ (fits three 5″ x 7″) black photo frame: $9.99

1 RIBBA 4″ x 4″ black photo frame: $9.99

1 RIBBA 4″ x6″ black photo frame: $2.99 (I can’t find it on the site but I promise it exists)

2 RIBBA 5″ x 7″ black photo frames: $2.99

1 10″ x 14″ black photo frame from Michael’s: $5.99 (IKEA didn’t have this size in the RIBBA so I found a similar one at Michael’s that would fit an odd-sized piece of art I had)

Now it came down to what I should use to fill the frames.  I had 10 spaces to fill which, at first, seemed exciting but turned out to be an arduous task of finding that many items that a) correlated with each other and b) fit the correct frame size.

Well, after several weeks of frames scattered all over our floor and searching through old photos and Etsy for art at every possible chance, the long journey has ended.  Here’s how I managed to fill all the frames:

Top row, from the left:

1) 4×6: One of my bridal shots

2) 10×14: A painting of a girl with a red umbrella strolling through an alley that I picked up in Prague, Czech Republic

3) 8×10: A typography piece I created using an ee cummings quote.

4) 5×7: A shot from Chris and I’s wedding

Bottom row, from the left:

5) 4×4: A photo of Chris and I from our first high school dance together (seems so long ago!)

6) 8×10: A black and white print of a floral arrangement that I picked up from IKEA for a whopping 99 cents.

7) 20×9: 2 photos- one of our Christmas card photo from this year and one from last and 1 typography print that I created which says “I’ve loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night,” a quote from Galileo Galilei (I needed something nerdy to represent Chris).

8) 5×7: Of course our room needed a little more Texas in it so I found this cute print from 1canoe2 Letterpress on Etsy for $18.

For those of you interested in the typography pieces I created, you’re in luck.  I’m giving them both away in free printables!  Happy birthday to you.

Galileo quote: download here

ee cummings quote: download here

Happy framing!

His.

For those of you at home wondering how much of what we say is true, I’ll answer your question: yes, Julie really does lay out frames in the middle of the store, regardless of how many “slip and fall” hazards she’s created.

I’ve built a lot of shelves, but they’ve almost always had some sort of support extending to the ground. This time was a little different, though. Julie wanted floating shelves, which meant I’d have to mount them to the frame of the house. It wouldn’t have been a big deal except that it took me two days to explain to Julie that they could only be moved up and down, not left or right.

Here’s a DIY tip for you: when trying to determine the location of the studs in your house, start with an electrical outlet. The outlet box is always going to be mounted to a stud, and almost always on the left side. So, chances are that to the right of your outlet is going to be a wood stud. Studs are most commonly placed 16″ apart (sometimes 12″ or 24″, though), so just get a tape measure and you should find a new stud every 16″!

Anyway, after finally convincing Julie of the necessary placement, I ran a 2.25″ drywall screw into the stud and measured out the distance I’d need to mount the second screw, using a level to ensure they were at the same height. Since the mounting points for the shelves were 20″ apart, it would technically be unsupported on one side, so I used a drywall anchor to retain a little stability. After making a few height decisions, I mounted the second shelf as offset as possible while still mounting to the stud on one side.

After the shelves were mounted, we laid out the frames. The shelves are somewhat narrow, so getting the thick frames to lean at the proper angle was a bit time consuming. We finally got everything set up just the way we liked it and went to bed. Unfortunately, around 2 AM, we awoke to the sound of the biggest frame taking a nose dive off the shelf and splitting itself in two. Somehow the glass stayed intact, but I had to glue the frame back together. Clearly, a solution needed to be found.

Julie hates it when I rummage through my “car stuff” cabinet in search of anything that will end up inside the house, but I knew I had the solution: double-sided foam tape.

It’s made for vehicle trim pieces but I’m convinced it would hold your car to the ceiling if you wanted it to… so I knew it would work on some picture frames. I cut some small pieces and placed them strategically around the frames to hold them to the shelves, the wall, and each other.

It may be overkill, but we’ll probably have to cut a section of the wall out if we ever want to take them down.

As for the pictures in the frames, we’re admittedly vain and thoroughly enjoy looking at ourselves, and we just couldn’t resist adding some Texas into another room.

The results.

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Filed under Master Bedroom

Mirror Mirror

Hers.

You may remember about a year ago, I publicly declared my love for sunburst mirrors (read more on that here).  After that post, I picked up this beauty at Garden Ridge for $49.99.

A few months later, I shockingly discovered that my mom had purchased the exact same mirror after reading that post and similarly thought her life was missing a sunburst mirror.  Good taste runs in the family, I suppose.

The mirror sat on our bedroom floor for a few weeks as I waited for us to buy the dresser it would hang above.  Well, I got tired of walking around a mirror and the constant paw tracks from our cat walking across it and gazing at herself (she’s the vainest cat I know), so I decided to just pick a spot, hang the mirror, and if I had to move it after the dresser was in, so be it.  P.S. we still have yet to find a dresser, nine months later, so we’re still good.

A new dilemma has arisen, however.

At first, I was convinced I wanted to introduce antique bronze into our room through the bay window’s chandelier and the mirror.  I was convinced that different finishes would help make the room feel cozier and have the “collected over time” look.  Yes, yes, I had been watching a lot of Dear Genevieve on HGTV when this idea popped in my head.  And while I adore Genevieve and want her to make over everything in my life, I just couldn’t buy in on the non-matching finishes.

Everything else in the room was either iron/oil rubbed bronze or brushed nickel.  I just couldn’t bring myself to accept a third finish.  The final verdict came in last week when I decided to spray paint the bay window chandelier from antique bronze to oil rubbed bronze (see that transformation here).

It looked great and further convinced me that the mirror had to change too.  I could either spray it oil rubbed bronze or go the silver route.  I decided to go with silver as that side of the room needed more of the color.  But not just any silver, I wanted something more antique-looking rather than contemporary.

Hm, now for the big question.  Could an antique silver look be achieved via spray paint?

The only guide I could find online was on eHow (read here) and it was for painting frames antique silver and it was a text-only guide, no pictures.  Frames were a close enough subject to my mirror but the no picture thing had me a little nervous.  How would this turn out??

Well, there was only one way to find out.  If I didn’t like it, I could always spray it back to a different solid color.  So, here are the steps I took to achieve the final look:

Supplies Needed:

  • Paintbrush (that can be tossed afterwards)
  • Rag (that can be tossed afterwards)
  • Cup of water filled halfway (that can be tossed afterwards)
  • Rustoleum Bright Coat Metallic Finish in Silver
  • Flat black spray paint.  The eHow guide recommended gray spray paint for for a more natural aged look and black paint for a more intentional/stylized antique look but the flat black paint I used turned out pretty light once applied and took a few coats to really show so I recommend using black.  I just don’t see gray paint showing up at all.

  1. Dust mirror to ensure surface is clean.
  2. Tape up the mirror part to ensure no paint hits it.                       
  3. Spray paint the mirror with the metallic silver spray paint.                                                                     We sprayed ours two coats with an hour of drying time between coats.  After the second coat, wait for the mirror (or whatever you’re spraying) to completely dry before the next step.  We waited an hour.                                                                                Look at all that fabulous silver grass!  Chris- watch out, you may wake up with a backyard of silver-coated grass one day.  Maybe not the greenest move but, man, what a look that would be!
  4. Fill a cup halfway with water then spray flat black spray paint into the cup for 10 seconds (this could get a little messy so I recommend wearing gloves).  Stir paint/water to mix it.  The liquid shouldn’t be too thick.   
  5. Dip paintbrush in paint/water mixture and apply to surface.  Paint evenly on surface.  I recommend splitting the total area you’re painting into sections as you will need to move quickly with the next step.  For example, I painted two rays on the sunburst mirror at a time then completed the next step before painting again.  
  6. Wait for the paint to dry for one minute then blot dry with a rag.  
  7. If the painted section still looks a little light, go back with paint then re-blot.  The first few sections I painted I had to go over two or three times to get the look I was going for.                                                      
  8. When you’re done painting/blotting, let the mirror dry.  I let mine dry for 4 hours before hanging it up.  The eHow guide recommended finishing with a gloss coat but I think the matte look I achieved after blotting was more authentic looking so I didn’t apply a final gloss coat.  If you want a shinier finish, however, I recommend the gloss coat step.                                                      

And there you have it!  From manufactured-looking bronze to unique, antique silver.  The mirror looks great and fits nicely into the overall look of our room.  The technique didn’t take that long and looks pretty genuine.  Look out house, I could be going on an antique-silver rampage soon!

His. 

Something has really been bugging me lately. It’s kept me up at night and is all I can think about during the day. I can’t live this lie anymore: I must disclose something and I want it to be known so there is no confusion, so no intentions are misconstrued, so that truth may prevail: when Julie says she or we spray painted something, what she really means is I spray painted it. I admit, she helps a lot when brushes are involved, but she’s never painted anything via propellant.

With that said, I was growing tired of faux oil-rubbed bronze finishes- the $7 cans of spray paint are easy to use and ergonomic, but unless you’re going for a nice splattered look they’re strictly a one-time-use can. So when Julie told me she wanted to try antique silver using a brush, I was intrigued- I’ve become something of a rattle-can expert, but I’ve yet to experiment with alternative finishes.

The first order of business was to spray the frame a basic silver. I chose Rustoleum Bright Coat Metallic Finish in silver because it was cheap, and I had used it in the past with great results- I repainted a handrail at work with it and apart from the fumes, my coworkers were none-the-wiser. Anyway, it laid a nice, even first coat (short bursts were key) and I decided a second coat would be necessary, even if we weren’t “antiquing” it. I strongly recommend wearing gloves, though; my fingers looked like the Tin Man’s after only a few seconds.

We let the paint dry overnight and then went back to attempt the antique look. Julie had found some tutorial online, but we found we had to make a few modifications. For starters, don’t spray the black paint into the water at full blast (just a tip). Second, use cheap flat black paint; the sprayed finish quality and sheen are irrelevant when you’re diluting it in water, so we bought the 99 cent variety- waste not! Finally, the tutorial said to wipe the surface after applying the black paint/water solution, but we found dabbing it gave it a more authentic look, while wiping made it look… well, wiped.

Generally, I’m not big on these kind of projects (and couldn’t care less about decorative mirrors) but this one turned out to be pretty interesting. There’s a certain art to hand-made faux finishes that interests me, and the results for this one drastically exceeded my expectations, as I fully expected Julie to give up and ask me to paint it bronze.

So, what do you think of the transformation?  Have we inspired you to go on an antique silver crusade as well?

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Filed under Before & After, Master Bedroom

Chandy Candy

Hers.

Chris may have thrown up a little when he read the title of this blog post, but, hey, it’s how I feel.  But, let me start at the beginning.

When we moved in, there was one light in the bedroom: the light on the ceiling fan.  We gradually added a table lamp bringing the grand total to two lights.  During the day, it wasn’t a problem since we have a bay window and a windowed-patio door that lit up the room but at night (especially when we were still rocking the dark tan wall color), the room looked like a dimly-lit cave.   Something had to be done.

And so began my three-month-long appeal to Chris to install a light by the bay window.  Did I mention that there was no electricity wired to that area?  But at this point, I have yet to provide Chris with a mission that he wasn’t able to accomplish so, hey, why not?

A few weeks later, voilah!  There was a light installed just over our bay window area.  Easy as pie (for me, at least).  Now I debated back-and-forth what kind of light I wanted to put in this area.  I settled on wanting something simple since there was already a main light (the ceiling fan) and two table lamps beside our bed.  I wanted the light to compliment these other three so you didn’t walk in and think, “what’s that doing there?”  I was inspired by these two images I found on Pinterest (where else) and decided my life needed a shadeless iron chandelier stat.

Source: So bummed that I can’t find the source to this image but here’s the link to it on Pinterest.

Source: Segreto

I found a few options in various retail stores, including these:

Source: Pottery Barn, Audrina Chandelier, $149

Source: Pottery Barn, Armonk 6-Arm Chandelier, $399

I also knew I was bound to change my mind a million times therefore it needed to be an inexpensive light (sorry Pottery Barn) so that it could be easily replaced if I found it wasn’t working out.  I did find this one at Lowe’s for only $69 that would’ve worked but challenged myself to find an even less expensive option.

Source: Lowe’s, Portfolio 6-Light New Century Black Chandelier, $69

So off to the architectural salvage store we went!  We have a place in town called Discount Home Warehouse that has become a new favorite of ours.   You never know what you’re going to find- old windows, shutters, iron fencing, doors, appliances, and, of course, light fixtures.  It’s a great place to find really unique pieces at a great price.

After a short detour through the giant letters (if only they had a W!!), we made our way to the lighting room.

With my head spinning (probably from looking up and circling the room over and over), I found a suitable candidate.  An old antique brass 5 arm chandelier for $30.  Perfection.

Now for the big debate.  I recently picked up this sunburst mirror for the bedroom wall which featured the same coloring as the chandy.

I was stuck.  Do I leave the color as-is or do I spray it another color?  If it was left as-is, it would match the sunburst mirror and antique brass was sort-of making a comeback.  Or I could spray it an oil-rubbed bronze color so it would match the ceiling fan and lamp color.  Hmm what to do what to do.  So, naturally, I couldn’t make up my mind and the chandelier went up as-is.  And there it stayed for a full year.  Behold the beauty of brass.

Finally, I decided I had had my fill of brass and it was time for a transformation.  This baby was going bronze.  We picked up another can of Rust-oleum’s oil rubbed bronze spray paint from Home Depot and it was go time.

For a guide to spray painting, check out this post.

His.

When Julie told me she wanted a chandelier in the bay window area, I immediately cringed. At face value, it seemed simple enough and it was nothing new, but this time I had to think outside the box, literally- Julie wanted the chandelier mounted just a few feet from the outside wall, which meant the roof would be sloping sharply downward at that point.

If you’re not familiar with electrical work, mounting and wiring a light where one is not previously mounted or wired requires going up into the attic, which is always a pain. On top of that, I’d be working in a space where two roof angles come together, meaning I had only a few square feet to work with. Basically, I had to lay down and support myself on ceiling joists using my ribs. That’s exactly how I like to spend my weekends.

I got the ceiling box mounted without any major issues, but Julie wanted a switch on the wall right next to the light. This would have been a nice touch and seemed easy enough- all I had to do was run a wire down the wall to the switch and then another wire over the bedroom ceiling to tap into the power on the main switch- but I realized that there was no access to run a wire down the wall. Again, simple enough- I did it before, after all, and was no big deal- just bore through the wood and drop the wire through. The problem here, though, was the limited space and sharp angles created by the roof, not to mention the fact that the roofing nails were protruding through the roof’s plywood base (another reason I hate attics).

So I grabbed my 1″ boring bit and went to work. The angle at which I had to hold the drill made it difficult to get started, but eventually I started making a substantial dent in the wood. A little more than halfway into the 3″ of wood I was trying to bore through, the bit jammed and the torque of the drill jerked my hand violently upward… straight into a roofing nail.

I take pride in my ability to maintain my composure in some pretty extreme situations, but looking at a nail that literally went in the top of my finger and come out the bottom cause me to panic a little. Fortunately, though, Julie was able to remain calm (which is rare) and while all I could manage to say was “uh… uh… uh… uh…,” she instinctively grabbed paper towels and met me at the stairs to the attic. I also panicked that I’d certainly get tetanus and die, but my mom managed to find my immunization records, and I think I’ll live to renovate another room.

Once I stopped the bleeding, I refused to continue with the wall switch effort, to which Julie understood she had no choice but to agree with. I simply put another switch in by our bedroom door, so now all our lights are controlled at one location, which has turned out to be more convenient anyway. After getting everything wired together, I demanded a break from this project- it already tried to take my finger, what might be next?

So a few weeks ago, Julie convinced me it was time to continue the chandelier project. I took it down and disassembled it for paint, and spent two days trying to put it back together (these things are like puzzles, and I cannot understand why it seems like there’s always at least three missing bolts).  We still had exposed sockets so we bought some translucent socket sleeves at Lowe’s but I had to cut them down to size, and an exacto knife did the trick perfectly:

Lowe’s, Portfolio Socket Covers, $1.97 for a set of 2

Next, I had to paint them. Using what is quite possibly the most clever painting solution I’ve devised to date, I had all five fully painted in about a minute.

From translucent…

To oil-rubbed bronze…

I didn’t think I’d care much for it when Julie had the idea, but I honestly kind of like having the chandelier there. And it only cost me one finger.

And here are the results:

No turning back now!  What do you think of our new chandelier?  Would you have stayed with the antique brass color or would you have ventured into the oil-rubbed bronze territory with us?

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Mastering the Master

Hers.

Change-up time.  I’ve finally been allowed to write second.  Is that a pig that just flew by?

His.

If you read this blog regularly, you know what kind of weird and tacky stuff the previous owners of our house did- the wood paneling (more on that here), the dried-mustard yellow bathrooms (more on that here and here), the lockless gun cabinet/mini-bar combo (more on that here)- but one room that was actually pretty nice was the master bedroom… mostly. Or so we thought.

When we looked at the house with our realtor, we thought the master bedroom might be on the bottom of our renovation list. It was big, clean, open, well-lit, and quiet. The walls were a calm, light blue, but for some reason they decided to paint the ceiling a very dark blue. I’m not an expert on decorating, but I know that dark colors shrink a room… and trust me, they lower a ceiling, too.

Dark blue ceiling… but it’s an easy fix, right? Right…?

When we went back for a second viewing before putting in an offer, we noticed that it seemed a little strange to put a rug in the middle of a carpeted room, and then we noticed something else- this:

Before I pulled back the rug, I knew what I would find, and I was right. There was a HUGE dark blue stain on the carpet where they had obviously kicked a paint can over. What a bunch of rookies.

We knew we wanted to replace the carpet, but now it had to be replaced. We put in an offer and one of the conditions was that they pay to put in new carpet. We actually ended up picking out and purchasing the new carpet before we had the keys to the house and had our carpet guy store it for us until the sellers had finished moving out.

On move-in day, we put everything we owned into the living room (sadly, it fit quite well). The next day, we began our first project- painting the room. We picked out a dark brown for the walls, the biggest bucket of white ceiling paint we could find, and very quickly learned how much we hate painting.

If you’ve never painted a ceiling, try to keep it that way. It’s by far the most difficult and messiest thing you can do to drywall. Most of our ceilings were an off-white color and only required two coats, but that stupid dark blue literally took three gallons to cover up, and there are still a few thin spots. It took me longer to paint that one ceiling than it did the walls of both the master and the guest bedroom! The next day we were having the carpet installed, so we were under the gun to get the painting done, including all the trim. What a beating!

In the end it was worth it- the white ceiling and trim looked great against the brown walls. We later installed crown moulding and were finally done.

Like my painter’s caulked corner? Gotta love North Texas soil.

We arranged the furniture, got some lamps that worked on the wall switch, and were done- finally, a finished room and a place to relax after a long, hard day of renovating the rest of this outdated house! Or so I thought.

Hers.

It’s been a constant fight of dark vs light in our house since we moved in.  No, I don’t mean some weird Star Wars good vs evil theme, I mean paint.  Chris and I will pick out a color and I’ll want to go two shades lighter while he’ll want to go two shades darker.  It’s a constant battle.

After posting a plethora of paint chips to the walls, Chris convinced me to go with a dark  tan color.  After painting the ceiling white, he convinced me the room needed a dark color on the walls.  It would be soothing, a perfect retreat after a long day.

PSH.  It looked like muddy river water.  See?

Not exactly the “relaxing retreat” we were going for.  So we’d just repaint it.  No biggie.  The only problem- Chris LOVED it.  Sigh.

Well, it wasn’t really a matter of if we would change it, it was a matter of when.  I let Chris enjoy his muddy walls for a few months and finally decided I had had enough.  It was repaint time.  I decided I wanted to keep it a neutral, tan color but go WAY lighter.

I ended up picking Behr’s Wheat Bread.

This has seriously become my favorite paint color.  I’ve had to restrain myself from painting the whole house this color.  It’s a neutral, light greige color that evokes instant calm and serenity.  Perfection.  Chris’ thoughts after we repainted?  “It’s too light.”  Sigh.

I also decided it was time to update our bedding from the red IKEA comforter I had from college (most comfortable comforter ever but didn’t quite the match the new look we were going for).

We used the remainder of our Macy’s gift cards from the wedding to spring for a new bedding set called Poetical by Barbara Barry.  It’s not available at Macy’s anymore but you can find it at Bed Bath and Beyond.

It’s a modern, neutral pattern that I paired with  a teal Pottery Barn quilt and euro shams called Pick-Stitch in the Porcelain Blue color (the top quilt shown in the below picture).

   

We were well on our way to a brand new master retreat.  But, first a little wall art and lamps were needed.  My mom helped me pick out an iron scroll to hang on the wall from Hobby Lobby, which has a great selection of inexpensive options.

And then, I found THE lamps.  I’ve always loved these iron table lamps from Pottery Barn but at $170 a pop, they weren’t really a reasonable option.

While perusing Kirkland’s, I found them.  Something so great, I spent the day chanting “I love lamp, I love lamp.”  AND they were only $35 each.  Jackpot.  Unfortunately, they’re not available at Kirkland’s anymore as their inventory changes so quickly but you can see pictures below.

And, of course the last addition was our newly renovated night stands, which you can read about here.

Okay, enough talk already.  Here are the results:

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The Dark Night (Stand)

Hers.

I’ve been on a mission ever since we moved into the house.  And, no, it’s not driving Chris insane with the never-ending list of projects.  Two words (or is it one word? I can never figure it out): Night stands.

The before wasn’t pretty.  So much so that I completely forgot to take pictures of what we had been working with since we got married: an $8 IKEA table (literally, $8).  We seriously walked into IKEA, perused the 5 million square feet building, and found the cheapest, elevated, flat surface to bring home.  Thank you Mr. LACK.

This was a proud moment for Chris- convincing me to walk out with the cheapest table in the store.  While, for me, a very low point.  Mostly because we went with the black-brown option (is black-brown really fooling anyone into thinking it looks like wood??).

My side boasted of a rattan side table passed down from my parents’ attic.  I had used it since my apartment days of college.  It worked fine.  I had two baskets underneath to store all my junk.  Perfect-o.  Well, sum up my horror for the LACK table and it just about equals Chris’ feelings for my night stand.  I think it was mostly due to the fact that Chloe (our cat) used it as her scratching post (hey, better than any of the thousand upholstered chairs we’ve seemed to acquire).

Only one friend could solve our problem.  Craigs List.  But how Craigs List failed me!  After what took months (seriously… months!), I finally stumbled upon a set of low-priced, beat-up night stands that I could wave my magical wand of spray paint and sandpaper at and churn out a handsome set of furniture.  I’m still shocked that we answered the ad because this is the picture we were working from.

A little tone-on-tone wood never deterred me though!  $40 later and the back seat of my car featured these two fellas.

This picture does them a little more justice.  The tops were a little rough- worn varnish, scratches, blue paint splotches, oh my!

And look at those gold drawer pulls!  I couldn’t wait to tear those things off.

But the best part was the bonus prize we found stuffed behind one of the drawers.  From Valentine’s Day cards, to old checks, to trash, we found it all (quickly shredded and disposed of, you’re welcome, sellers).  All except one piece, that is.

Craigs List sellers beware: make sure all your personal items are out of the item you’re selling or your grocery list could end up on some random person’s blog… like this.

Yum, looks good!  I love whatever “salad stuff” is, but seriously, who puts a question mark after wine?  Wine is not a question, people!

His.

There are a lot of outrageously-priced items out there: jeans, a decent cup of coffee, used Hondas, etc. And, apparently, beat up furniture. Julie and I hit Craigslist at least once a day looking for a good deal on used furniture and quite frankly, a fair price is not to be had very often. I blame HGTV for creating a false demand and running up the prices.

Anyway, we finally stumbled across a pair of night stands that we thought might have potential. We both had a certain look in mind that we couldn’t quite describe but we knew it when we saw it, and we finally saw it. A quick jaunt to the other end of town, a bit of shoe-horning into the trunk, and we were merrily on our way home with our latest project.

First things first- cleaning. These things were in sad shape- dog hair, paint stains, trash, you name it. It was hard to get a proper idea of what condition they were really in until we wiped them down a few times and even hit one with a shop vac, but we soon realized that we had some work to do.

Next, we had to strip the old finish for two reasons. One, the tops were incredibly rough and, obviously, we wanted them smooth. Second, there was a high-sheen varnish on them that would need to be stripped in order for the new paint to adhere. We started with a handheld sanding block to roughen the finish enough to paint:

The tops, on the other hand, required the power sander to get through years of abuse, resulting in scraped-off varnish in some places and build-up in others:

After sanding the hell out of them, we still had discoloration in the wood, but whatever- it was smooth, and we were painting over it anyway.

Now for my least favorite part: painting. I hate painting. Whether it’s a brush or a rattle-can, I can’t stand it. It was too cold to spray outside, so I had to spray in the garage and even with a mask on, the fumes were overwhelming.

Anyway, these took quite a bit more paint than I expected. The dark wood didn’t cover as easily as I’d hoped, and I ended up doing three coats, sanding lightly between each one to ensure a smooth finish in the end.

The difference between wood and paint can be seen here:

For tips on spray painting furniture, check out our previous post on that here.

After the first coat:

The drastic difference between one and two coats:

Want to know why I hate painting? Because it makes my hand swell up like a balloon! I told Julie I needed hazard pay from now on.

Finally, I was done painting and Julie could begin “distressing.” The one on the left is painted, the one on the right has been distressed:

   

As a finishing touch, I decided to apply a coat of urethane to the tops. After all, these were going to be functional and quite frankly, we don’t baby our furniture… and I don’t want to paint them again.

We realized after everything was done that we had forgotten about the handles. After spending what seemed like an eternity in the cabinet hardware aisle at Home Depot (I’d rather paint than be in that stupid aisle) and only to return home empty-handed, I got the idea to just spray the original handles with oil-rubbed-bronze-look spray paint and call it a day. Fortunately, Julie loved the look as it kept the original style of the night stands but also updated the finish. Problem solved!

These night stands turned out so well we were tempted to sell them (as we patted ourselves on the back for such a professional finish), but we assume at the rate we find furniture on Craigslist, a deal like these will come by around the same time we next see Halley’s Comet.

After.

Hers.

Ah, white distressed.  My favorite.  I’d like to point out right now, that I’ve gone this entire post without using the word “shabby chic.”  Ha!  It can be done.

The bottom space of the night stand was perfectly suited to putting a basket to hide all our books/magazines… I guess I should say “my” books/magazines as Chris’ aversion to reading outdoes his aversion to our cat 10:1.

Oh, and the color we used is Rust-oleum’s Satin Heirloom White spray paint, found at Home Depot.  My new favorite color by far.

Stay tuned for a sneak peek into more of our master bedroom soon (aka the left side of this picture).

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Take a Seat

Hers.

Dear friends,

I’d like to introduce you to the epitome of ugly, hotel curtain fabric.

CAUTION: this image is not for the weak of heart.

I think it’s ferns… on a base of some coral chevron pattern… but let’s just call it hideous.

So, I paid $20 for that.  WAIT, I’m not crazy.  Let’s pan out.

I paid $20 for THAT.  Yup, another CraigsList find.  From the most unsuspecting seller too.  We drove up to the place and found a 20-something single guy living in a new, downtown district, sky-high-price-per-square-foot townhome.  I was kind of curious how he came to own this chair… but, at the same time, assume I wouldn’t want the chair if I knew the whole story.

I made Chris make the obligatory test sit.

The picture is actually in our garage some time later but you get the idea.  The chair held sturdy so a $20 bill later and we were the proud owners of the fern beast.  Still not sure how I convince Chris to go along with all these crazy schemes.  You see, I had grand plans for a sitting area in our bedroom.  I was coveting a beige linen wingback chair from Pottery Barn.

Oh, hello cute chair!  Oh, hello exorbitant price tag.  Seriously?  $899 for this sucker?  Not in this life time.  I was determined to replicate this, complete with my own nailhead detail.

I found a great fabric with the linen look AND got it 20% off because I hit up a semi-annual sale.  At $70 for 7 yards, it was a done deal.  I called up our amazing upholsterer and he whipped it out in a week, complete with nailhead trim!  I keep waiting for the frequent upholsterer discount as this was the third chair I’ve brought to him… guess I need a few more before that happens (probably won’t be a problem considering my chair addiction).

Before it was upholstered, I had to fix up the legs.  I decided the cure would be a fresh coat of paint over the cheap-looking wood.  I painted it black for now but will probably go back and paint white over it then distress it.  Eventually.

   

Ah, much better.

I found a great numbered pillow to complete the look.  A score at Stein Mart for $19.99.  Not too shabby!

I also need to spend some time explaining the “sitting area” to Chris.  He doesn’t understand why I never sit there yet insist on calling it the “sitting area.”  Ugh, boys.

His.

It takes a lot to surprise me, even from Julie. So when she suggested we drive 20 miles to go look at a $40 chair, I didn’t think much of it. We have two compact sedans, so I knew I’d need to source a larger vehicle if we wanted to actually bring it home. I asked my boss if I could borrow an SUV from work and he agreed, but was curious as to why. I told him Julie’s grand plan and he replied, “wait… are you even old enough for a wingback chair?”

Anyway, we went downtown and looked at the chair and decided it had potential- after all, it held me up without anything breaking, which is more than can be said for the chair I had in my college apartment. I chatted the guy up about his car and motorcycle and talked him down to $20. I tossed it in the back of the car and away we went, trying to figure out exactly what the smell was.

The first order of business was to paint the legs, mostly to hide all the nicks and bite marks (I’m serious). Next, we called the upholsterer, who is a little bit crazy but also does excellent work. We got the chair back in about a week and as soon as I texted Julie that it had arrived, she called me in a frenzy wanting the know if they installed “the buttons.” I confirmed that there were indeed nickel buttons. I’m not really sure what all she said next, but I do remember hearing the phrase “AAAAHHHH I LOVE BUTTONS!!”

This chair has now been placed in a “sitting area” in our bedroom, but no one ever really sits there (except the laundry).

After.

For more information on those fabulous chevron curtains you see behind the chair, check out our no-sew curtain tutorial here.

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No Sew Curtains… No, Really

Hers.

There are few things that make me want to give up instantly.  Like sewing machines.  Chris made a really good point once (note that key word “once” :)).  He pointed out that pretty much everyone’s grandmother is a master at the sewing machine so why is it that our generation, the one that grew up with technology advancing faster each year than it did over a full century, is so puzzled by these devices?  It’s seriously like trying to translate hieroglyphics.  It must make sense to someone but to me, it’s just button and knobs placed in a strange pattern, its methods an utter mystery.

So here’s my dilemma:  I’m tired of the lack of variety in store-bought, ready-made curtains.  I want to be able to choose my own fabric, width and length and make custom curtains.  Is that really asking too much?  According to Calico Corner’s quote for turning my master bedroom drapes idea into reality, yes, it was asking too much.  $700 too much.  Oy vey!  But look at this fabulous chevron fabric.  Could you say no?  Especially if I told you it was only $7.48 a yard?  Didn’t think so.

It didn’t take me long to turn to my mom to help me decipher our sphinxlike sewing machine.  Before you scoff, note that both Chris and I tried our hand at the sewing machine.  After 4 hours, we got nowhere but two broken needles and one jammed machine.  But moms can fix anything… right?

Nope, not this time.  The machine found a foe in my mom as well as she jammed thread after thread.

But I was determined to have custom drapes so we ventured to Michael’s and came back with this hot, little number.

Note the “Ultra Hold” and the “For No Sew Projects.”  Cha-ching!  Yes, this would be our ultimate savior.  I bought the ultra hold version because our cat had already ripped out the hem on our living room curtains playing Superman.  Yes, you read that right.  She slinks behind the curtain and jumps about a foot into the curtain, causing it to flutter behind her like a Superman cape.  She has a tiny head and thus a tiny brain.  That’s all I’m going to say.

The project turned out to be easy once we eliminated the sewing machine.  Here are our simple steps:

1. Determine the size of the drapes you want, considering you will need to fold each side for the hem.   For each side, we decided on a 1.5″ hem.

2. We lucked out as the width of the fabric was the perfect width for the curtain panel so I didn’t have to do as much work on the sides. Since the sides were the ends of the fabric and thus had a finished edge already, we only needed to fold them over once to be hemmed (so you wouldn’t see the pattern abruptly end… see picture above).  For the top and bottom, because we cut the fabric, we folded the edges over twice to prevent fraying.

To put it simply, we folded the sides over once at 1.5.”  We folded the top and bottom over twice 1.5″ each time so 3″ total.

3. To help hold the folds down, we ran a hot iron over each fold creating a crisp crease.

3. Heat n Bond time!   Turn the iron on to the silk setting, no steam.  For the sides (folded once), we placed the Heat n Bond on the back side of the fabric on the edge then ran an iron behind it.  For the top and bottom (folded twice), we folded the fabric once, then placed the Heat n Bond on the fold then ran an iron behind it.  We ran the iron slowly (about 1-2 seconds) giving the Heat n Bond time to melt and bond to the fabric.  After we finished ironing it and it had cooled for about a minute, we removed the white paper backing.

4. Once we removed the paper back, we folded the fabric over and ironed the other side of the fabric which bonded the Heat n Bond to the fabric.  We moved the iron slowly to give the Heat n Bond time to melt (about 4-6 seconds this time).

5. We repeated this for each of the four panels.  It took some time but, hey, we avoided a sewing machine!

6. We bought curtain rods and curtain rings with clips.  It’s perfect for using custom panels of cloth for curtains.  No holes needed for the rings.  You just clip it to the rod, much like a binder clip.

And how’s the durability you may ask?  Well, it’s lasted three months and several cat attacks so far.  I think Heat n Bond and I will be friends for a long, long time.

His.

I’ve noticed two things about the women in my life: 1) they all blast the A/C in the car but turn the vents away from themselves, and 2) they have useless things in their house- towels you can’t use, chairs you can’t sit in, and in this case, curtains that don’t close. I had curtains in my apartment before I got married, and they were there simply as a guarantee that I could sleep past noon on Saturdays.

Just as I had feared, Julie once again suggested putting up curtains that wouldn’t close. I suppose I should rephrase and mention that, technically, it’s not that the curtains can’t close… it’s that I’m not allowed to. Anyway, after doing our typical fabric-choosing runaround (which basically means Julie shows me two dozen patterns before remembering that I really don’t care), we had a new puzzle lying before us: assembly. Curtains are made of cloth, and cloth had to be sewn, right? For some reason, Julie thinks I can sew. I learned how to re-stitch buttons and small tears in Boy Scouts, but beyond that I’m pretty useless with a needle. Seeing as we’d need to sew several feet, stitching wasn’t really an option, and Julie wanted curtains stat.

I decided to swing for the fences and attempt to use the sewing machine again. We had borrowed my parents’ sewing machine, and I nicknamed it Christine. If you’ve ever seen the movie of the same name, you’ll know what I mean- it works flawlessly every time for my dad, and has tried to kill everyone else. Anyway, a few hours down the drain and I gave up on the sewing machine. We were desperate for a solution, and remembered that our Ikea curtains came with iron-on strips for hemming (gotta love the Swedes for their refusal to properly fasten anything).

One trip to the craft store later and we were cooking… or ironing. And it was tedious-measure, fold, iron, fold again, burn fingers, measure, fold iron… repeat. Julie may have laid out instructions, but she failed to mention that it takes at least an hour per curtain to get it right. So, once again, a late Saturday morning whim turned into a weekend project.

Once everything was put together and installed, I have to admit that it looks pretty good. What was originally a confusing extension of the bedroom had turned into something that looked almost intentional. I just wish she would let me close them on Saturday mornings.

And now for the final results!

  

  

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