Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Swatch This

As I mentioned in my previous post about the guest room, I've been thinking about adding an upholstered headboard to the bed because it's looking a little lonely and disconnected:


Not only that, but the wall behind the bed is beyond bare and definitely needs something to fill it up.  If you read the original post about this room, you may recall that I made a deal with the devil, I mean with Mike, that if he let me buy the yellow DwellStudio pillows from Target, that I wouldn't add anymore to the guest room.  (He despises yellow, just slightly more than green).  I may or may not have specifically said I wouldn't build a headboard.  I can't really be sure, I would have handed over my first born, I really wanted the pillows. 

Because Mike has the memory of a elephant, (where as mine's more like a goldfish), I had to wait until he forgot about this pillow deal and while we were shopping for a sewing machine at Joann's (yep, I'm a big girl now with my own sewing machine), I casually walked by the custom cut fabrics.  When Mike asked what I was doing, I nonchalantly said I was shopping for fabrics for a headboard.  Without missing a beat he said, "What about the pillows?"  So much for my ruse.  What happened next can only be described as a testament to the strength of our relationship and how well he knows me, because he told me I was crazy and walked away.  Which in "Mike Talk" translates to, "You're going to do whatever you want anyways, so why should I bother.  Even if we did make a deal for ugly yellow pillows, which really do go nicely in the guest room so I trust your decorating ideas.  And you're crazy." 

So with the go-ahead, I started picking out some fabrics that I liked.  Mostly green, and some with more dramatic patterns, (I was trying to push my comfort zone a little).  The great thing about the custom cuts section is, for $5 you can put a refundable deposit on the samples and take them home for up to a week.  When your done, you take them back for your money and order.

At $5 a pop I got a little excited and picked out 5 samples:


The first is a light green with a iridescent bluish stripe, the next is a very similar tone with a geometric shape and more blue.  The next two were sort of my "fun" picks, seeing as how I already knew the bold pattern wouldn't really work for the headboard, (more of an accent pillow pattern), but I grabbed them anyways.  The last is a collection of solid greens.  The only one Mike even kinda liked. 

I used two 3M removable hooks to hang the fabric above the bed to get a feel for how the fabric looked with the bedding, the wall, and how the light throughout the day changed the color.

I first tried the green stripe and fell in love.  I like the subtle stripe and the hint of blue. 


I thought I had a winner, and wasn't even going to try the others, when I looked at the price:


I'm not even sure what that means, is it $79.99 per yard?  $79.99 per square foot?  $79.99 for as much fabric as I can carry?  I'm not sure, but what ever it means, it's way too expensive!  Even with the deal Joann's has running right now which is 50% off all custom cuts, that's still $39.98/whatever.  My dreams died a little in the moment.  I realized I had to forge ahead, and tried all of the other fabrics.

The next one was the green and blue geometric print.  This one was nice, but the blue was a little too much and looked a little off with the gray wall.  Plus the pattern was a little too busy:

 
The next one I knew was going to be too busy, and too bright, (the picture doesn't really show it, but it is a lot greener in person).  We were however getting closer to the price which we were comfortable paying, $24.99 (plus the 50% off to make it $12.50). 
 

One of my goals now that I've finished painting (much to Mike's delight - ha!), is to add color, and stay away from my favorite grays.  This is why I knew the next fabric wouldn't work, because one the pattern is again too busy for a headboard, and also, the color completely fades into the wall:


With the other choices falling flat, the solid green fabric was left.  I liked the middle green which was an olive-y color that had some gray tones (as opposed to bluish tones).  With the price at $24.99 we may have found a winner:


I'm still going to wait to see what exactly the price includes when we return the samples, but it's looking more and more like it'll be the solid fabric.  I read about 13 different online tutorials on how to build a headboard, but I'm still a little apprehensive to see how it turns out.  Definitely check back to see how I do!

And on a slightly unrelated note, I witnessed Benelli learn something new while I was conducting my fabric experiment.  After about 3 full minutes of mustering up the courage to do it, he jumped from the bed to the top of the dresser (scroll back to the top to see how far it really was), then felt all superior (or scared to jump back down) and sat like this watching me take my pictures:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shine On

I was feeling a little artsy the other day and decided to try something new to fill the space above the console table in the living room. 

I wanted to do something with silver leaf and being that I've never worked with it before, decided to try something simple on canvas.  Here's a pile of my supplies, including a 24" x 36" canvas (on sale at Hobby Lobby for $10.50!), a package of 5 1/2" square silver leaf ($8.99), green acrylic paint ($0.99), and some paint brushes ($0.99).  Not shown are the spray adhesive and spray sealer ($8.99/each).  And, of course when anything is placed on the ground, it's fair game for cat sitting.


I knew the silver leaf wouldn't be perfect and cover the whole canvas, and to be honest I wanted it to look a little distressed, that's why I started by painting the canvas a light green (including the edges).


After waiting about an hour for the paint to dry, I sprayed the canvas with the spray adhesive, not forgetting about the edges, which would be covered too.  The directions then said to wait 2-3 minutes for the adhesive to get tacky.  Then it was simply adding the silver leaf squares in a grid pattern until the canvas was covered.  A trick that I read was to use wax paper cut a little larger than the leaf square to move and attached it to the canvas.  The leaf is attracted to the wax paper and rubbing the wax paper on the leaf helps to ensure the leaf temporary sticks to the wax paper.  This made it easy to pick up and place the leaf onto the canvas without ripping, (or catching a breeze and flying away, which only happened once when I tried it without the wax paper).


(The orange sheets are the separator sheets that make it easy to pick up one piece at a time.  I tried using those to move the leafs, but they didn't stick to them like the wax paper.)

Here's a progress shot a little over half the way through:


As you add more, the edges overlap and are removed by brushing over lightly with a soft paint brush.  The more you rub with the brush, the more is removed.  I got pretty aggressive along the edges, because I wanted to make sure the green would show through.  After cleaning up all the pieces not stuck down to the adhesive, I sprayed the whole thing with the spray sealer, once in one direction, then another in the opposite direction.

In the end I like the overall look of it, and I like the contrast of the shiny silver leaf and the wall, I just think it would look better with a different colored wall.  Mike and I have talked about drawing something in black paint like a simple outline or silhouette, but we haven't agreed on anything, so it will sit like this until inspiration strikes:


By the way, the glass bowl usually holds wine corks that we've collected, but the little furball prefers them scattered on the floor, and doesn't let them sit in there for more than an hour before pawing them all out.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lean On Me

Currently, I'm obsessed with picture frames leaning on the wall.  Whether it's on a shelf, side table, or picture ledges, I can't get enough.  I'm not sure you've noticed or not:




I especially love the picture frames ledges I bought at Ikea that are over the guest room bed.  They are so simple (and cheap!), and they provide a huge impact when you want to display many photos, but don't want the whole wall to be filled. 

I thought of these when trying to decide how to fill the void that is our living room wall:


Both the wall behind the chair, and the adjacent wall behind the TV felt very lonely to me.  I felt like a genius when I thought to create a corner picture frame ledge.  Brilliant, right?  Well, apparently Pottery Barn thought so too:

Via Pottery Barn

They might have thought of it first, but I was going to make it better.  I mean, spending less than $576 is already making it better in my book, (yes, that's the price I would pay for the dimensions I wanted).  So, I went back to my tried and true friend Ikea for more picture ledges.  At $15 a pop, I figured I'd be safe with 6, which turned out to be perfect.  I also picked up a cart load of frames knowing that if they didn't make it on the ledges, I could find somewhere else to put them.

Before I could even start shopping I had to get the okay from the boyfriend.  Of course he thought I was crazy, but I decided to make him a little picture to show him what I was going for:


Yes, I uploaded a picture into Paint and used a paintbrush to draw shelves and picture frames.  You can be impressed of my mad skills, it's allowed.

To start the actual project, I started by taping out where I thought I'd like the ledges to be along the wall.  I eyeballed it, and added pieces until I got the final lengths. 


We used the 6 store bought ledges to get the desired lengths.  I then had the handy boyfriend miter the edges to 45° to fit nicely in the corners. 


He then added biscuits to give the joints extra stability.  Although you should glue these joints together, then wait about an hour before mounting, the 40° weather didn't allow for this step.  Yes, something we figured out after gluing and waiting an hour.  We figured the biscuits would be enough to keep the joints from shifting after we mounted them.





After the biscuits, we took everything inside, made sure our lines were level, then mounted the shelves.  It really was that easy.  The shelves come with pre-drilled holes, so as Mike held the shelves in place, I handed him the tools and he got it done.






The only problem we had when retro-fitting the pre-made shelves were the seams didn't always line up exact.  If we didn't live in a 83 year-old house, this might not have been an issue, but our plaster walls are far from smooth.  But that's what gives them character right...right?


A quick once over with the Sharpie and the noticeable seams were no more.


Add some of my Ikea picture frames, and the project was complete.  Now, like half of the frames in my house, I just have to figure out what to put in the frames.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When Your Computer and TV Don't Play Nice

Since we took a little break during Christmas I thought I'd share what's been happening at the casa lately, and it's not all decorating/remolding related so bear with us.

Mike and I are not ones to keep up with the latest electronic gadgets.  We don't have iPhones or iPads, and I couldn't tell how to turn on a Kindle, let alone read a book on it.  Don't get me wrong, we have a lot of the cool electronics, like our beloved Wii and the only thing that gets us from A to B are our Garmins, but these were all bought years after they were the must haves.  So it came as somewhat of a surprise when Christmas came a little early for this girl and a large box was delivered to our door a couple weeks ago:


You see, we've been living like poor college students with my old tube TV, which I bought while I was a poor college student about 6 years ago.  Me and my TV have been through a lot, including 5 moves and 6 different residences.  So, maybe it doesn't have HD or enough connections so that we had to unplug the Wii when we wanted to play the PS2.  So what, if it had a green spot in the left hand corner that sometime ended up over someones face making them look sick.  And, so what if it made a loud cracking noise every once in a while that's so loud it makes Benelli and I both jump.  It played HGTV just fine and I loved it.


The problem was it was old and ugly, and with Black Friday pricing quickly approaching, we were ready to make the leap to something newer. After researching for weeks, we finally decided on the 42" LG LCD. We went a little big because our plan is to move it downstairs when we finish the basement.  At that time we may get something smaller upstairs, or (gasp!) not have a TV upstairs at all.

Unlike it's distant tube cousin, the new LCD flatscreens are thinner, lighter, and generally easier to set-up.  We had ours up and running with our cable, Wii, DVD, and PS2 (yeah, we're old school) ready to go in about 20 minutes.  I'm not going to tell you that it was like switching from an old speakeasy to surround sound, or watching The  Wizard of Oz when Dorthy wakes up in Munchkin Land and everything's in color.  It was just bigger.  Actually, so big it gave me a slight headache, (I was watching Bravo's The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, so it could have been that too).

For the next couple of weeks our eyes adjusted and we enjoyed our new toy, that was until we tried to watch a movie from my laptop to our TV.  We had bought a movie from Amazon.com for a relative for Christmas, and after we had ordered it, they offer you the chance to watch it streaming from your PC.  We thought we were so cool and ran through the house unplugging things looking for a VGA cord to plug the laptop into the TV so we could have the whole experience, like our TV manual said.  Well we did, and it was awesome.

So then a couple days later, Amazon.com gave us $5 towards another movie-on-demand.  Seriously, this was the gift that kept giving, back to us!  So we went through the same set-up as the last time, only this time something went wrong.  When we plugged the VGA cord into the laptop, there was a huge spark at the connection point to the battery.


Okay, maybe it wasn't that big, but that's what it seemed like while the computer was on my lap.  It may not have been July 4th worthy, but it was big enough to fry my laptop.  Yep, it killed my computer, my work computer. 

After the moments where Mike and I stared at each other silently with our mouths open, we finally came back to our senses and thought the problem was the battery had come loose and there was a gap at the connection, thus causing the spark.  We also bought a new VGA cord just to be on the safe side.  Having only 12 hours left to watch the movie we ordered, we borrowed my sister's laptop to try again.  Yes, we still wanted to watch the movie, we were greedy little chipmunks.  We tried it one more time and we didn't get the cord 1/2" within the computer port before it sparked again!  Mike then called LG (the maker of the TV) and began to explain our situation.  While he was on the phone, the cord, only connected to the TV, even shocked him, finally frying the TV! We then realized it couldn't have been my computer, but it had to be the TV.  Dun Dun Duuuuun. 

This began the long and annoying process of  contacting all the parties involved, including LG, Amazon.com (where we bought the TV), HP (the brand of laptop), and even AT&T (because the first subcontracted technician from LG actually said it was our cable that was shooting off an astounding 108 volts, which if true, would have blew up our cable box, TV, and computer modem.)  Needless to say, we asked for a different technician to finish the job.  Weeks went by and more phone calls were made and more appointments came and went.

While we're still not back to normal, we are to a point where we can finally relax.  Our TV's insides were replaced, including a new motherboard and power supply, and because our TV was only a couple weeks old, all work performed was under warranty.  While we're still waiting to figure out whether it was our TV that blew up the laptop or the laptop that scorched the TV, we may never know.  All companies involved have been very good about pointing fingers in opposite directions, successfully driving Mike and I crazy. 

As far as the laptop is concerned, we did contact the legal department of LG and began the process of filing a claim, but my boss, understanding it could take months before anything is agreed upon (and that's if they even agree to take blame), agreed to pay for the damage done so that I can be back to normal working conditions.

In the end we're still satisfied with our TV, (and the way it looks in the room), I'm just not sure we'll be hooking up our computers to it anytime soon!