Monday, August 29, 2011

It Just Kilz Me

I was armed with good intentions this weekend, and found a project that seemed to be free. The previous owners of my house left a huge five-gallon bucket of paint that appeared to be the same color as most of the walls in the house. Seriously, the former owners painted everything a yellowy cream color. I don't like it for most of the rooms but did want it to be the base color in my hallway, so I dragged the huge bucket of paint out and started freshening up the hall.

It went smoothly except for a couple of problem spots. There had been some water damage in the hallway - spots that I thought would be covered up quickly by a coat or two of paint:

After two coats of paint, however, the spot was refusing to hide. It sucked paint up in seconds and, while I appreciate fast drying paint, this was a problem.

I didn't want to go buy primer. Not because of the cost (though that was a consideration) but because I couldn't stand the idea of going shopping in the 115 degree heat. So I dug out my old friend Spring Rain, which was Behr Ultra - made of primer and paint! Three coats later, I still had the problem.

So I gave up, cranked up the car air conditioning, and journeyed to Home Depot. It turns out there are multiple kinds of Kilz - a fact that I did not know since I hadn't even known Kilz existed until I googled the scholarly and grammatically creative phrase "water damage paint work." Kilz Pro does not have stain covering which was, of course, the purpose of my Home Depot trip. So I bought the correct kind (I hoped) of Kilz, happened to come across a lot of other great project "ingredients" that wanted to come home with me, and I returned home.

Thus, this is the first project reveal from my eclectic stash of possibilities I posted this weekend!

That primer is some serious stuff. It reminded me of the white-out-on-the-face ordeal my sister and I had during one of our few fights...though, thankfully, the Kilz comes off easier than white-out does.

So hours later, my hallway has a smooth new coat of paint that hides all its former scars (except those wall-mounted lights that seriously have to go), and it's ready for the stripe challenge that is coming its way in the near future!

P.S. I just realized I never mentioned that this water spot was on the ceiling. My neck is VERY glad this project is completed.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Stash

So many of my friends on the east coast are storing up necessities and preparing to stay inside, so I decided to do the same thing to demonstrate my support for them.

Two hours and $100 later, I have this mysterious combination of items that will last for about six or seven new projects...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Put A Lock on It

It's a crazy week with lots of work projects, so my progress on the pantry - and pretty much everything else - has been put on hold as I try to catch up. Thus, it's a perfect opportunity to brag/feature/highlight tasks I've completed but not added to this summary of life as a homeowner.

The first thing I did when I moved in was change the locks. I can't quite get the full story on the former owner, but I do know there was a string of renters that still bring in repo trucks and letters from attorneys...and besides, I didn't like the cheetah print key for the front door my realtor handed me when I moved in.

Now that I'm a DIY blogoholic, I know that you can do wonders with spray paint and old locks - but I didn't know that when I moved in, and it wouldn't have solved the don't-want-to-share-keys-with-former-owners problem. So off to Home Depot I went.

I wanted something that blended with the old-fashioned style of the house, especially for the front door. The awful gold handle had hijacked a beautiful metal handle original to the door (the house was built in 1948 - I don't think I ever shared that!), but the peephole was still orginal and it was gorgeous. We'd gone to a lot of trouble to try to straighten out the old door enough to keep it there, so I wanted to keep the fixtures as close to that look as possible.

A ridiculous amount of money later, I returned with gorgeous new door handles. You haven't lived until you've attempted the keymatch technology that allows you to conform the lock to the key you want to use - SO COOL! I love the way this new lock doesn't look too new on the front door:

There's still a lot of work I want to do on that door - it needs to be cleaned and sanded, and I want to paint it. Maybe red?


Turquoise? (Wink at Anna)

But for now, I'll just enjoy the shiny handles. AND the repaired doorbell, which was very complicated. It involved replacing the batteries - a highly technical skill I mastered quickly. It's an old lady doorbell but I live in an old house so I love it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Happy Case of Weird Priorities

Fewer than 1/3 of my house is painted, yet this week I got distracted from the rooms people notice and instead focused on my pantry/kitchen closets. These closets are really amazing and I spent hours of apartment life dreaming of something even half this roomy. They are tall and shelved and happy to hold all my earthly goods...or at least, they hold brooms and paper towels.

I bragged earlier about the organization I'd created for my cleaning closet on one side of the doorway:

But I knew that was not the final product. Months ago, I fell in love with these pantry walls on Pinterest:

Armed with paint left over from my kitchen wall, I tackled the pantry - and am in love with how it turned out! The hallway is too narrow for me to get a decent picture of the whole closet, but at least this provides me with another opportunity for you to see the gorgeousness of the Wonder Blue paint.

Eventually, I'll get the energy to stencil them...but that's a project for another day (or month!).

Gifts from Home Depot

I wandered to Home Depot after work tonight to buy more paint (update coming soon!), and had a lovely experience. My interactions with the Home Depot paint counter personnel are not usually nice at all - it seems that every time I spend money there they get ruder. Tonight was very different. There was one guy manning the whole counter, but he took time to be polite while he took my order. And when I asked him where I could buy a Sharpie marker, he both directed me to the correct aisle and just gave me a marker that he had in his pocket but didn't need. Seriously! That's the kind of thing that happens in the Payson Home Depot, not one in the busy center of Phoenix - I love it.

I was also adopted by a balloon while I was there. I was searching paint samples yet again for the perfect inspiration to strike, and when I turned around there was a white balloon in my cart. It had floated down from a display in the next aisle, and was planted firmly in my cart. Now to understand my reaction, you'll need to keep in mind that I'm still dealing with the mental instability that comes with the loss of a pet - the fact that I was chosen by a balloon was a welcome addition to my evening. He came home with me, and he doesn't even need a litter box.

Cheers for Home I'm off to tackle the paint brushes again.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Bright Idea

I really admire people who have fascinating things to say on their blog every day...there are many days where I am happy just to have successfully showered and gone to work, and no one wants to hear about that. (Except, of course, those who watch the Kardashians' show.)

Today was not a day of big ideas for the DIY/house world, but I did have this bright idea: light bulb storage. (Pun intended.) I keep extra light bulbs on a lovely shelf in the pantry that is just slightly out of the vision range of someone under 5'9", so every time I need a light bulb I have to stand on my toes and just grab whichever one is closest to the front. It's always the wrong wattage, of course, so it is quite a lengthy process to find the correct one.

Enter these great IKEA boxes that were unopened until last night - they're perfect storage for the bulbs! I added the bubble wrap that accompanied my wonderful GSPM mug from the Super Saffers, and the light bulbs are now happily settled in their new home.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Aisle of Disappearance, Or It Must Be Bulk Trash Week

It's Bulk Trash Week in my area of town, and boys and girls everywhere have spent the last week dreaming of the possibilities, counting down the days until each house reaches Freedom From Clutter. Not really, of course, though this girl gets pretty psyched about the possibilities. Last time I had a much more impressive list of contributions to the Phoenix landfills...this time, my efforts were hampered by lots of factors. Okay really there was just one factor: It. Is. HOT. It's too hot to do yardwork so there are no trimmings or plant remains to put in the bulk trash pile - and since the heat has killed most of my landscaping attempts, there's not a lot left.

I did have one notable contribution that had been waiting for the big week. The former owners left a lovely refrigerator in the garage...with the electrical cord cut. A former resident of this house was apparently fond of cutting electrical cords, since I've found more than one appliance in such a state. Anyway, I had neither the knowledge of how to repair the cord nor the time to figure it out - especially since I have a perfectly nice refrigerator in my kitchen already.

Getting the fridge out to the alley turned out to be a challenge. I pushed, pulled and strained until I got it firmly lodged here: in the gateway.

I finally gave up and asked for help, and by the end of the day the fridge was in the alley...and then on its way to a new life somewhere.

You see, my neighborhood has alleys that magically turn into Aisles of Disappearance. I have never seen anyone in the alley at all so I have no idea what happens, but somehow things disappear within hours. I wish I could find the people with trucks and muscle enough to move a refrigerator when I want to do a furniture-buying trip to IKEA! I was grateful for their timeliness/greed/ability to serve, however, because now I can believe the fridge is going to be put to good use rather than rotting in a landfill somewhere.

Unless those ambitious souls return tonight, I will have managed to contribute a few things to bulk trash week:

- Baseboards (lots of them - my house is now old-baseboard-free!)
- Old lattice (I haven't done a thing with it since the last bulk trash week, so this time it got to go too)
- An old rug
- An empty paint can (ONE paint can?! How have I made such little progress?)

Hopefully I'll have a productive autumn so I can help make November's bulk trash week a more notable occasion...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Go Bright or Go Home

My paintbrush and I traveled to my sister's house last weekend, and we joined forces with her great taste and incredible blue paint tape skills. Seriously, this woman can create the best paint line I've ever seen with blue paint tape. Mine turns out awful every single time and I am positive I use the same strategy as Anna does (short strips of tape, in case you're wondering).

Anna's taste in paint often causes mere mortals to run for their sunglasses. "Go bright or go home" is her slogan, and also one of the funniest things I've ever heard in a Lowe's. Her ability to pick bold colors should have earned her the opportunity to host her own HGTV show, but instead I'm lucky enough to keep her. I even take her advice a modified fashion.

I've helped Anna paint before, and it's always a super-fun experience. First we painted the master bedroom in her new home. The untrained eye would call it orange, but it is the most stunning, gorgeous room I've ever seen either on or off HGTV. It captures that vibrant approach to color that I saw all over Italy. It's the kind of color that actually warms your soul...even if it gives your HOA manager a minor heart attack.

These pictures don't do justice to the color of Anna's room, but they do show it off...and they illustrate her impressive ability to accessorize.

The next painting task was the nursery, and it was the most delightful paint job I've ever done. Anna couldn't actually help with this one because Blueberry (my nickname for my not-yet-born-but-already-my-buddy nephew) was still baking. Eli and I tackled this paint job, and that is when I became addicted to those little roller brushes for painting by the ceiling. Here's the nursery before...

...and after!

We intended to paint colorful circles on the walls but never actually did...until Anna found stick-on circles in the perfect color from one of those paint decal stores. Bought them at Ross for $5 - now THAT sure beats trying to stencil in circles all over the room. (The adorable artwork was drawn by a caricature artist in San Diego.)

So that brings us to last weekend's project...the kitchen. I forgot to take any good "before" pictures, but you've seen the color already. It's the standard home color - lovely brown that warms up the room but doesn't make a statement. The small wall at the end of the kitchen has a great window (I call them "distractor windows," since they're right in front of the sink and you can stare out them while you do dishes yet AGAIN that day), and was ready to be an accent wall.

Here's a hint:

And here's the final product! None of the pictures really capture the color and overall effect - the lighting changes it in pictures. But it really is gorgeous and I'm sure my nephew will be a master chef because this kitchen makes even ME want to cook.

So there you have it: go bright or go home!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mood Board: Extreme

I found a new way to create great mood boards! I learned about from Living with Lindsay, a favorite blog, and predict that I will waste countless hours creating online dream rooms. Until I get the hang of the new technology, however (and the new ways they'll find to sell me wonderful decorating items!), I resorted to the good old-fashioned "paint" program on my practically-archaic laptop. Long story short, it made it into a tiny photo so I just took a picture of the zoomed-in project...forgive the bad quality!

I doubt my living room mood board surprised anyone who knows me - it's very, very me. (To be honest, I'm surprised there are enough people like me to make something like a French language rug a real West Elm item!) This first draft of my bedroom mood board, on the other hand, is unlike anything I've ever done in a home...and I love it.

The grey and yellow color scheme was inspired by my favorite outfit - I always have a good day in the grey suit with yellow shirt, and it gets even better if my yellow shoes are a part of the ensemble. Through the wonders of Pinterest, however, I discovered that I had actually hit on something trendy: decorators also love grey and yellow!

There are a lot of great bedspreads I've found, but I really love this duvet cover from West Elm. This slate grey is really soothing...

This is a different color (also gorgeous!) but it shows the texture better.

I would consider splurging on these sheets if they didn't use "U" for the lovely word "you," but apparently it's hip to abuse the English language at CB2. I'll keep looking for something with these same colors in it.

This rug is gorgeous! It's WAY outside of even my For Purposes of Dreaming List, but since no one said mood boards had to be realistic, I'm adding it anyway.

I love the idea of creating a shades-of-grey Subway sign board with favorite places and memories, similar to this one from Lemon Drop Life.

Another (and more notable) DIY project: a laundry room door similar to this one. The sliding door would be perfect for both covering up the laundry room when I don't want to see it and covering up the weird window looking into the bathroom when...well, when I don't want anyone looking into the bathroom (duh).

Some details I already have, like two of these great floor lamps from Target:

There are many art possibilities, since I have a huge wall to fill. I would prefer an original of this, but I suspect that an original Monet is slightly out of my price range.

I love this picture, but want  something more unique.

So there you have it - the dream start to my grey and yellow world!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Snob Tax

It's a crazy week so I don't have much to share, except for this thought: do you think there is an invisible, unspoken assessment on everything purchased in Scottsdale? On my way to dinner with my friend Suzanne (wonderful company, good pizza!) I stopped by an eclectic place called The Nest. It was the latest in my reality TV series "locally owned home decor shops" (not coming soon to a Tivo near you), but it couldn't compare to the oddities of Razmataz. Some of the furniture at The Nest was gorgeous and they had beautiful accessories, but I really think some of the lamps were purchased at IKEA and then marked up 1000% through the unspoken Snob Tax.

I had a truly wonderful time tonight, but Scottsdale makes me grateful for downtown Phoenix. I'll take the food tax and non-plastic people anyday!

Monday, August 15, 2011

On A Mission to the Far East

I journeyed far outside my usual "downtown only" bubble this weekend to visit Gilbert, the land of conveniently placed chain stores and children children everywhere. Most importantly, it is where The Most Important Child Ever lives - my nephew took my sister and I on a home decorating trip.

We started at Razmataz, an incredibly cool and eclectic home decorating store. Apparently there are several spread across Phoenix but I've never been to one - it was like walking into Ballard Designs, Costco, an antique store and a pawn shop: very, very cool. The furniture was way outside my price range and, to be honest, mostly out of my style range as well since I don't drift toward overstuffed decorative pillows and tassels on couches. But the details they had were truly outstanding.

I couldn't help but bring one of those "details" home. These letters are made out of magazine pages...

At $30 for the set they weren't cheap, but they are funky and guaranteed to snap me out of any bad mood!

Xavier started our tour with the first thing he spied that fit into the "ball" category. Here he explained the value of a beautiful carved wood decoration with carved silver accents. Note that the much more colorful fake tomatoes were also an option, but he avoided them. Smart kid.

These helmets were too high for our tour guide to know how awesome they were, so I threw them in...

After a pitstop on the over-glamored couch, it was time to move on.

Our tour moved onto Kirkland Home, where our guide bypassed the truly amazing deals on mirrors and artwork to demonstrate the finer points of transportation options offered by the home decorating store.

Note the dog bed in the background of that photo? It became the next highlight of our day as X rearranged the store... he could ensure that potential puppy customers would get the best quality of fine linens.

One more stop at Marshall's, where Aunt Beth found the perfect table lamp for her living room and Xavier found the perfect new hardback for his library.

After our store tour, Xavier got a two-hour nap while Anna and I tackled a painting project - fun! Details to come...

(Pssst, Anna: I picked the pictures of the "H" and the "A" letters of my fun magazine letters so X could "read" my blog. Just in case you didn't catch that. ;)