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Getting There Slowly

family room

The family room, May 2011.*

I’ve always been the kind of person who jumps into things without giving them much thought, whereas Michael is the kind of person who goes at things sideways, exploring every angle before making a decision. This is one of the reasons why we are great for each other (because we balance each other out) and why we drive each other nuts (because it’s annoying when someone is actively balancing you out.)

All of this to say that I think some of Mike has been rubbing off on me (not that way, ew) because I’ve been very patient with regard to my family room and that is incredibly unlike me. Normally I buy a bunch of crap I don’t really like because I need something, anything right now. But this time I’ve been pulling a Michael and doing it a little bit at a time, adding something here and there, as we can afford it, as we aquire it, when we find something we love, et cetera. And I’m so glad it’s worked out that way.

I’m really happy with the way this room looks now. It’s much more the cozy-library-esque-family-room I was hoping for.(Here’s what it looked like six weeks ago.) I still want an area rug and some throw pillows, but I’m glad I waited until I had the table behind the futon and all the shelves up because I’ve completely changed my mind about the color scheme.

Speaking of the table, Mike built it and it’s not really a table, but a triangular shelf that fits perfectly in the corner behind the futon. He put a smaller triangular shelf above that, and now we have a much better spot for Foxy than we had before. I am absolutely thrilled. I was a little worried that one of the cats was going to try and get into it with the emaciated half-eaten gazillion-year-old taxidermy fox that is my grotesque little friend, but so far they have left him alone.

foxy

More than anything, I love all the family photos everywhere. Formal portraits and snap shots, new photos and old black-and-whites, each one makes my heart sing.

family weddings

My goal, of course, is to wallpaper these walls with family photos in various gold-and-similarly-hued frames. That would be wonderful.  But in the mean time we’re off to a pretty good start.

family photos

Also, major good news! We got permission from our landlord to install a bike rack! So excited! (!!!) This means two things:

1.) I will no longer have to carry my bicycle down three flights of stairs then up three flights of stairs every single time I ride it.

2.) There will no longer be a bicycle leaning in front of our fire place.

I am so excited, I can barely sit still. We ordered it online and it arrived late last week, so Mike will be installing it sooooon! Maybe we’ll do a post about it. That’s a great idea! A post about how my husband bolted a piece of metal to some concrete in our parking area. Riveting.

Actually, if you want a really good DIY blog, you should check out Dopey’s Happy Home. You probably remember my best fried and frequent accomplice Dopey LaRue? Well, the lovely Miss LaRue has started a new blog, a sort of eco-friendly, mother-earth, rock-and-roll blog about DIY-ing everything from gourmet dinners to bedroom furniture. Girl works a full time job, goes to school full time, and makes all her own skincare products. She has tiger blood. Go look at her site now.

*This is the kind of thing I need an SLR for. What I wouldn’t give for a camera that takes great photos in super low light.

I DIY’d it.

did it

I re-covered the kitchen chairs. Finally.

I adore them.

Project!

Project

We (and by that I mean “I”) finally chose fabrics for the kitchen! I am so excited. The lemon pattern on the far left is for the kitchen curtains. I think it ties in with our yellow pear-shaped placemats beautifully. The striped pattern is to cover the kitchen chair seats. Originially we planned to match the seats to the curtain, but I was afriad it would be too matchy-matchy, so I chose patterns that compliment instead. The pattern on the far right is for I-have-no-idea what. I am currently obsessed with anything and everything related to birds, and so I fell in love with it and had to have it. I think I’ll probably end up using it to make throw pillows for the family room, but we’ll see.

Now. Here is the conundrum. I have never actually made curtains before, have never worked with a pattern, don’t know the first thing about sewing, and while I can run a sewing machine, I can’t do it in a straight line. I have sewn together pillow covers, but what with my lack of sewing skillz and inability to sew in a straight line, they were the World’s Wonkiest Pillow covers and have since been ripped apart at the seams and set aside for use in another project one day in the future. So any suggestions, tips, ideas, you happen to have for me when it comes to these curtains and new pillow covers will be MUCH appreciated.  Gracias!

Theo Approves

He’s got no thumbs, but he’d really like to help!

Groovin’ on a Sunday

before

Welcome to our second bathroom – my joy, and also the bain of my existence. Why? Because it’s up to me to decorate it and I have had absolutely no idea what to do with it. How do you decorate a bathroom? What constitutes bathroom decorations? And worse, how do you decorate a bathroom in a rental?

The painting reflected in the bathroom mirror was painted by my mom, and it reminds me of a sunset on Maui. It brightened up our bathroom in Harlem, where it looked great with our cheery yellow shower curtain. The blue and green bath towels were purchased specifically to coordinate with the painting, so it only seemed natural to put them all together here. But then what? This shower has sliding doors, so no need for a cheerful curtain. My mom suggested bright yellow hand towels and wash cloths and I’m really happy with how they bring a little sunshine into this tiny windowless room. She also suggested I ditch the white frame that hangs above the towels for something more colorful. As soon as she said that I thought, why don’t I take a cue from Young House Love and paint the frame?

We’ve been a little too spendy these last few months, so I’m making an effort to curb my home-improvement costs. Especially since this home is a rental and in the long run, we really want to be putting our money into something we own, so it made sense to paint something I already have, rather than go out and buy something new. Luckily for me, my husband stockpiles DIY materials, which meant the entire cost of this project was $0. Sweet, sweet $0!

First, I had to sand the frame. I used a 220 (super fine) grit sand paper to roughen up the surface and remove the glossy finish.

sanding

Once I was done sanding the frame, I washed it with a little dish soap and water, to get rid of any clinging plastic dust. When it was completely dry, I sprayed the whole thing with Rust-Oleum primer. We didn’t have white primer on hand, only gray, and I’ll tell you right now I would’ve saved myself a lot of work if I’d sprung for a new can of white primer. C’est la vie – live and learn!

primed

The directions on the can said to paint the primed object within one hour of priming, or after twenty-four hours. I have no idea why the instructions read that way, but I said SCREW EM! and  applied my first coat of paint after only four hours. But first, I had to choose a color.

Michael suggested I use acrylic artists paint, since we have so much of it laying around. Unfortantely, most of the colors we have are shades of blue and green and what I wanted was hot pink. But I managed to scrounge up a tube of red and a tube of yellow, and so I set to mixing a shade of orange that would pull some of the orange out of the sunset painting. Once I mixed a color I liked, I held it up to the painting to see how it looked.

testing 1

Love it! But how does it look against the towels on the other wall?

testing 2

Perfect! So I started painting. And painting. And painting. After two coats, the gray primer was still showing through and the orange was not nearly as bright as it was on my palette. I was not pleased.

second coat

Pardon my incredibly wasteful use of paper towels. We didn’t have any old magazines, newspaper, or plastic bags laying around.

Michael suggested I add a little more yellow to my paint to brighten the color before applying the next coat. Here it is with a third coat of yellow-er orange paint, applied to the top, bottom, and right sides. The left side only has two coats of the original darker orange. That gray is STILL showing through, even after three coats! (Grumble, grumble.)

color variant

After four coats of paint, the stubborn gray was nearly completely covered. If you stare at it hard enough, I’m sure you’ll be able to tell I used a gray primer, but who’s gonna look that close, right? (Don’t look that close.) As a final touch, I sprayed the whole thing over with one coat of Verathane, let it dry, slapped a peice of white cardstock behind the picture as a sort of fake matting, and voila!

after

Much improved!

Here’s the before and afters side by side:

before-after

I am so pleased with the results, and had so much fun with the project, that I’m going to paint a few more frames for the wall across from the shower, which is currently blank save for a scrubby old towel-bar sans towels. I mean, how many towels does one bathroom need?

And finally – a close-up of the contents displayed by my new tangerine frame:

DIY

It’s a newspaper clipping from the L.A. Times, featuring me and two friends. I’m the one all the way in the back with my arm slung over my head, and the caption below the photo reads: “David Yarovesky, 18, left, and Clark Carpenter, 15, of Calabasas rattle the skins while enjoying a Sunday on Malibu’s Zuma Beach.” I’m not mentioned, but then again, there’s nothing newspaper-worthy about a teenage girl sunning herself on the beach. Anyway, if this isn’t proof of an idyllic teenage-hood, I don’t know what is.