Saturday, March 2, 2013

Obsessive Compulsive

Lest you think I've been sitting on my hands since my last blog entry 6 weeks ago, the time is nigh to distill that notion. This will be a slightly longer than usual blog and cover more ground so try to keep up.

First up some simple things I did in an afternoon or two in January - I've been trying to think of a way to store my shoes and although I saw an idea on Epbot that I liked, I wasn't sure her design would hold regular shoes instead of just flip flops. After some experimenting I twisted up a design that I think improves her idea - at least for regular shoes. Once I finally remembered to get some bracket supports(that only took about 3 months) I was ready to hang shoes and this was the end result.

So as you can see the shoes are all held by regular wire hangers that I've cut and shaped. The flip flops have a slightly different design than the regular shoes and I changed a couple things about the Epbot hangers - namely I crossed the wires at the top and tightened the curl on the hook part - this is because the shoes you can see have heels and the added weight caused the hanger to flex more than I liked. By crossing the wires it gave the shoe more support.

For the regular shoes I had to sacrifice a few hangers to get the design just right - although they are metal they can be bent and straightened only so many times before they no longer have a smooth look. They are crossed over and then crossed again for added strength. The sharp bend at the bottom is also better than a smooth curve (like with the flip flop ones) because of the shoe weight. The top is curved over so it sits easily on the shoe. All you need for this little project is a wire cutter (I recommend the kind for fence wire because the hanger wire is quite thick) and a pair of needle nose pliers. Strongly recommend curling those free ends in as soon as possible because I have a couple cuts on my hands from the ends of the wires slicing into me - they are so sharp I didn't even notice the cuts until I was well into bleeding. As an added note: the regular shoe hangers are cut in the middle of the hanger so you are using the whole length of the wire, the flip flop ones can be shorter and are cut at the 'elbow'.

Here's something simple that took me weeks to do because I kept forgetting to buy the tension rod to hold up the curtains. This is where my washer and dryer hide in the bathroom. When I moved in, if you recall, there were two very heavy maple doors that hid the W/D set - nice but impracticle because you couldn't open both doors at the same time and that made transferring wash to dryer awkward. We removed the doors months ago( so now I have about $700 worth of doors sitting in my shed) and that left the W/D open to the room. I didn't like that much. Curtains to the rescue. They suit the 'shabby chic' look I'm going for and I had a set from my old house just sitting in the shed waiting to mold. I also had some netted curtain from Ikea I'd never used so I framed the whole area with pretty white gauziness.

Weasley demonstrated why there is a pink blanket sitting on the dryer. Pay no attention to the organized mess above him - that has it's own uncertain future. Possibly cabinets, possibly something more original ... not sure yet. I finally got the holdbacks too and paid $5 for the pair instead of $15 for a pair at a big box store. When possible go to the Dollar Store! So when you come to visit and want to use the bathroom you will know who is behind the curtain pulling all the strings.

Also in the bathroom is an earring holder. I recently decided to wear different earrings every day and have been busy keeping my eye out for new earrings. For a long time I just wore the same earrings all the time - a closed loop Claddagh - but now I want to expand my earring collection. Since I didn't have many pairs I just kept them in the jewellery box but after a while it just turns into a mess of hoops, wires, and backs and I would just give up sorting them. I wanted a nice display so Pinterest to the rescue. I did this using an old picture frame, some chicken wire and my trusty new staple gun. The hook used to hang it is the only thing I spent money on. I painted the wire a cream color (same as my dining table and chairs) because the galvanized wire looked odd and the ribbon is from my collection of puppy ribbon out of the whelping kit. This is in my bathroom since that's where I get dressed for the day ... still, I sometimes forget to put earrings in!

Out in my woods I found a whole bunch of bottles in a garbage tip that has to be at least 70 years old based on some of the bottles I've collected there. I wanted to reuse them for something and once again Epbot gave me some good ideas. I printed off some vintage looking labels; one for Sunlight, one for Javex and one for a lotion and then, after waterproofing them, glued them to some of the bottles. The hardest part was finding pump tops that fit the bottles since they are larger than the average bottle neck these days. The Javex one is actually hand soap but since the bottle itself is really a Javex bottle I thought it would be cool to make the label a Javex one. They look very cute in my kitchen above the sink. It's funny to think the bottles themselves are worth more than the product inside them - the Javex one alone sells for about $10 which may not seem like a lot but ... it's just a bottle.
Also in the kitchen was a quick project that is one of my absolute favorites. I was moving some things around in the kitchen, trying to decide where they should go(still) and was stuck with what to do with my favorite cups. They are actually goblets I bought at Winners years ago for $5 for the set - they were on clearance. I think they are a sort of wine glass, but not. I love them and have had them for at least 8 years - some kind of miracle for a glass product in this house let me tell you. They have quite a bit of heft to them so they needed something sturdy - I was thinking wine glass holder but then, my new BFF Pinterest provided the answer. One day last year, after I moved in, I was raking the gravel on my new driveway when the rake head decapitated itself from the handle. No matter what I did I could *not* get that handle back on ... so what do you do with a useless rake head? I abandonded it in the shed as a lost cause and bought another. I was so excited when I saw this on Pinterest I wanted to do it right away but it was night time and storming out and I couldn't get to the shed. This is what happened the next day. Ta da! 
 Some projects take a lot longer than others, or involve a lot more planning, painting, drilling, measuring and fiddling about and this next one falls into that category. My new kitchen island. Well, not new but not blogged about anyway. I didn't want an island that was premade or standard and it needed to be smallish and open because the house isn't very big and I didn't want something to overpower the kitchen. It had to be special and different, with a butcher block on top, but not boring like they usually are. This is what I ended up with: what we have here is two end tables with a bamboo cutting board between them.
I bought the end tables because they are tall and have a drawer and a shelf in them, then I painted them the accent color I've used elsewhere in the house. I also took a couple of spindles from the deck rails my Dad brought over and cut some of the round parts off to use as supports for the cutting board. I drilled holes in the tops of the tables and into the board, inserted dowels and some glue and voila ... kitchen island. I also put some hooks underneath and hung mixing spoons from them - I was concerned the dogs would lick them but because they're clean when they hung, the dogs ignore them. It's so cute and although I don't use it much, because I'm not much in the kitchen, it does help to delineate where the kitchen is ... if you know what I mean. It's a cute little accent piece that I am not afraid to say I am very proud of having made almost from scratch.  The preceding two paragraphs make it sound pretty simple but it took me a long time and a lot of planning to do.
Also in the kitchen is the area under the sink which used to be a cheap shelf and a black curtain. I wasn't loving it - this photo is just prior to moving in ... obviously.
Those have made way for a new microwave shelf, some accent legs and a curtain more suited to the brightness of the kitchen. The microwave shelf is actually a steamer trunk with legs screwed onto it - the legs were also upcycled from the deck rail spindles. I left them brown so they wouldn't stand out since the legs under the sink are the accent pieces. That drawer on the left is an actual drawer which I did not discover until I'd lived here for 5 months, the one on the left is a false front. The curtain I got on sale and re-used the little rod from my bedroom window to hang it - I used the other one in the window of the front door to maintain the bright county consistency. Under the sink is the compost bin and some bits and pieces like papertowel and a fire extinguisher. No doubt if I need it I won't remember it's there. While right now you can't get into the trunk the microwave sits on, I hope to fix that once I figure out how to make an access panel in the front without ruining the design on it.  Also, I'm changing the feet on the posts to a kick that goes along the bottom of the posts and to the back of the cabinet - the spindles move and I don't love the look of the feet. The posts are, you guessed it, re-used railing spindles.
Lastly, the kitchen counter; this was something I've wanted to do for months but either never remembered to order the counter or it was Christmas, or I was working or something else that prevented me from committing to doing it. I finally did it and it looks fantastic. If you look at the photo above, the counter was a black number which was cut off just after the sink by a little wall and then a shelf that went around the corner which was only about 2/3 of the depth of the counter. Odd and annoying. So we righted two things: color and style. I wanted a long clean bright counter and that is what we accomplished. Cora likes it too ... actually she is impatiently waiting for our walk.
The area at the far end under the coffee maker will one day be a dishwasher with a space next to it for the recycling bins which are being stored under there now for want of a better place. Under the cup holder is a length of baseboard which I turned over to make the transition under the pine bead board a little smoother - it needs to be laquered but only time will darken the color since the board above it has aged to that color. Not much can be done about that. The end will also be hidden at some point by trim so that support for the counter and the blunt end of the baseboard will not be seen. The lower shelf will also be gone so I have to find somewhere else to put the toaster and crock pot. It's all a work in progress! At this point of course I must offer a huge thanks once again to my Dad for helping me with the counter while he was sick - even though I told him he didn't have to come (and has spent the last week sick enough to cause me concern for his health and safety). And that's my kitchen up to this point. I have plans for the ceiling too but haven't finalised the details, I'm thinking a border and either tiles or stenciling - not sure yet.
And that's it for now! My insatiable desire to do projects is making me a little crazy but soon it will be Spring and I can direct my attention to outdoor pursuits like making cement stepping stones, log benches, planting plants, trimming back more trees to make paths, clearing the creek some more, fencing and mowing. Oh, and I'm getting a chainsaw! Can't wait to fell a tree!

Friday, January 11, 2013

That's So Distressing

I know it's been an inexcusably long time since I last posted so since I have no excuse I'll just get straight to one of the uber cool things I've been doing since I last updated.

I have a pub height table because of the dogs and it's been support for many dinners, puppy vaccinations and evaluations since 2007. It's held up extremely well over the years considering it's seen 5 litters of puppies run between its legs and chew on its chairs. I love this table, it's square so it doesn't take up much room, it's the perfect height and is very sturdy which you need to be in my house of large dogs. Here's a photo of it from Christmas 2007 (the only one I could find of it since I forgot to take a before photo) and just after I bought it. That's Ceilidh and Petal on the table and Raimi and a very pregnant Halo in front.

Since moving to my new house I have been busy painting things, deciding on colors and and working on a style for the home. I am aiming for a little of 'shabby chic' but don't want it to look like I'm trying too hard. The colors I've chosen are leaning toward creams and browns with a burst of color here and there. This color scheme does not really allow for a black table and since it sits just off my kitchen unfortunately the weight of the black in the midst of all the soft colors just wasn't working.

I started by removing the seats so I could sand and paint the chairs. Ceilidh thought she would 'help' with the process.

Once I get an idea in my head I can't rest until it's done. It's become a curse and is part of the reason I haven't been updating; I am too busy completing all the damn projects I keep thinking up for myself. So this past weekend, after deciding what I was going to do with the table, I set to work and after Speed, The Princess Bride, Nothing to Lose and Get Shorty I was close to completion (I watch movies I've seen several times while I work, it means I don't have to watch the movie but I know what's happening - I even say a lot of the lines to myself before the characters do). First, I sanded the paint on the chairs, not a lot but just enough to scuff the surface and take a lot of the shine off.

Then I painted on the first coat. I didn't spend a lot of time worrying about the brush strokes because I knew I'd be doing more coats. The paint was great, it took under an hour to dry and was the perfect color. It's called Loop and is a pre-mixed color made from recycled paint. It does have a smell but it goes away very quickly. Best part about it is the cost - it was $13.88 at Walmart for a gallon can so guess what color a bunch of stuff is going to be over the next little while.

Since the seats of the chairs were a cream color and over the last few years have gotten dirty, what with being a favorite place for cats to lounge, I wanted to cover them with another fabric. As it happened I had some curtains from my old house that I brought with me. My current house doesn't need curtains so I used one of them to cover the seats. I'd chosen the curtains in particular for the old house because the blues matched the feature wall color I'd chosen and also used in this house.Perfect!
Before putting the seats back on I wanted to 'distress' the chairs and table so I gently sanded the edges and corners of the furniture. Where there is typically more wear, like on the rungs, I sanded a little more, and just scuffed it enough to show up but not look battered.

I also only did two coats instead of three or four so it would show the paint brush strokes. Since the base color is black it shows the strokes a lot more clearly than if the base color was a lighter shade or wood. If you wanted the brush stroke effect on a lighter chair you'd have to paint it dark and then paint it light again. Sounds like a heap of work to me. It doesn't really show up here but in person you can easily see brushstrokes.

A simple color change on the table and chairs considerably lightens the weight of the room. You can see the French doors are the feature color and almost exactly match the chair seats. I'd read up on how to 'distress' or 'antique' furniture but they sounded like a ridiculous amount of work involving multiple coats of paint, candle wax, more paint, then scraping off wax. Who has that kind of time? I think my set looks great and although it took me about 15 hours to do it was totally worth it. When it warms up outside I'll be clear coating everything so they are easy to clean and protects the paint a bit more. And that is that - the only frustrating part was after the application of the seat cushion fabric I had to buy longer screws because the added thickness of the fabric caused the existing screws to be too short. Simple physics outdoes me again. In all, this five year old table got a great facelift and cost me under $25 (paint: $13..88 + sand paper: $2.86 + screws: $3.99 + tax = $23.84). New table ... ultra cheap!