Friday, September 30, 2011

Backyard Camp Fire

T.J. and I have had many discussions about where our fire pit should go. T.J.'s dad has an awesome built in fire ring in his deck, which we considered attempting. In the end we thought it would be best to put it out in the yard, away from where the deck will be, and most importantly away from the house! T.J. recycled these old bricks and used the pavers left behind by the previous owners for the base, making this project totally free.

Now if only it would not rain on one of the nights I don't have class... we could enjoy it!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wine & Cheese Party

This past weekend I was able to bring together a few of my favorite things under my new roof. Wine, cheese, chocolate, and new friends. It was so much fun to finally have people over in our new house that we love and show off all our projects.

First there was party prep - this included things from shopping for food to finishing the hotel chairs and hanging chandeliers. I also made these snazzy coasters to match my pink zebra couch pillow. The pattern is originally from Martha Stewart, but my sister has made them many times and talked me through it on the phone. It is very easy. You take a 10 inch by 4.5 inch piece of fabric, fold it in half (right sides together) and sew up two of the sides. Then flip it around, stuff a 4x4 square of quilt batting in the middle, tuck under the raw edge and begin sewing all the way around the square with your sewing machine foot at the edge of the square. When you get around to where you started turn the corner and line the sewing machine foot up with the last row of stitching. Continue this square stitching until you reach the middle - this creates the quilted look of the coaster.

I also used these adorable wine glass charms found at Home Goods... they really helped class up the party. :-)

I also put out the first of my fall decorations for the occasion.

All the guests pitched in pouring wine and cutting cheese (har har).


It was great to see people participating in all my decorating!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Life for Hotel Chairs

These two hotel chairs were quite a find at Lansing, MI's Dicker n Deal store about a month back.

Check them out before:

 I had never really attempted to recover a chair with a fabric back before so this project presented me with a new challenge. Luckily I have an extremely brave sister who also purchased a match to this chair (Dicker n Deal had about 30 in stock they had gotten from a hotel sale) to recover for her Mega Mall booth. Her chair was the guinea pig and turned out beautifully, so I gave mine a try too. 

The backs were attached without visible screws so we had to dig out the wood plug to pull the back off. (The zebra fabric on the chair above is what my sister used to recover hers... check out how hers turned out here.)

Recovering the bottom of the chair was pretty simple, just like any other chair seat I have recovered before, except with a curve at the back. I had to do lots of tight pulling and a few little tucks to accomplish the smooth curve.

Check out the mess chair re-upholstery makes...

The back of the chair I ended up doing almost the same way. I had to be more careful to fold under rough edges and always stretch everything tight, but it came together in the end. Getting the backs reattached was a bit of a chore too. My trusty husband came to help.

The zebra and the print may be a bit much... so in the light of day I decided to take it down a notch with a plain colored pillow.

Lola may have found a new favorite perch. 
My ultimate plan for these chairs is to paint the arms and legs the same color as I am going to paint the foyer - Pepper Berry (the pinkish redish color in the patterned fabric I recovered the chairs in). Updates on that process hopefully soon.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

September Spray Paint Projects

I am loving this fall weather. When I first began spray painting things when we moved in in July, the spray paint acted very odd. The humidity was making it globby and frustrating. This fall weather is perfect for spray painting and I got out earlier this week to get some projects done. First on my list was my new chandelier I picked up in Lansing, MI at a flea market (check out the pictures here). I also found some light switch covers at that same flea market. The third thing I spray painted was (yet another) chandelier - this time one that uses candles instead of electricity. Here are some before shots:

I learned from one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, to stuff the light bulb sockets with paper towel before spray painting it. When I spray painted my pink chandelier I used painters tape and actually took the white tubes off, left them white, and they are on my pink chandelier white right now. This new chandelier I wanted those tubes to blend in, so I kept them on and painted them right along with the rest of the chandelier.

Just like the pink chandelier I hung the new chandelier on a shepards hook to paint it. This process works well except that no one will ever see my chandelier from the top, which is the angle I painted it from when hanging. So I did end up having to turn it over (this was easier with the last one because there was a hook on the bottom and the top - trickier this time) to get at it from all angles. I chose my trusty ORB (Oil Rubbed Bronze) spray paint for the job because the chandelier can be seen from my bedroom (black accents) and the living room (brown accents) so I wanted a nice in between color.  More pictures of the finished project at the bottom of this post.

The light switch cover project was a fun one too. Here is the light switch cover situation before:

Add some spray painted ornate flea market finds and...

I am on the lookout for some new inserts for the actual switches in white. I think it adds a little something to the wall though. I put the cover on the switch in my living room on the wall I intend to make a gallery wall for photos eventually.

Here is the candle chandelier I was working on. It was originally brown, not bad, but not right for my bedroom. This was actually a new purchase, not a flea market or second hand find. It was still cheap though, only $9. Sounds kind of steep actually considering my two electric chandeliers were $4 and $10 each.

Hanging the chandelier was the next challenge after everything dried. This is one of those projects that should not take long, but manages to take about 5 times longer than expected. Getting the old light down was a breeze. Here is a shot of what we were working with before. Pretty average.

So I tore it down and this is what it looked like underneath.

Anyway, there are two wires that come out of the ceiling, one white, one black. The wires on my chandelier were both brown... how would I know which to connect to which? Call my dad and ask of course! Turns out it doesn't really matter. If you can tell that one is ribbed and one is not, that is one way to tell. Otherwise you can just hook them up to either. My dad explained to me like this: You know how when you plug something into the wall (like a hair straightener) sometimes one prong is bigger than the other and has to fit in the right size hole? Sometimes the prongs are the same size and it doesn't matter. Ceiling lighting works the same way. Doesn't matter which goes where, but if you can tell, then use the right one. Long story short we just hooked them up willy nilly to each other.
Side note here: Make sure you cut off all power to the light before you start messing with the wires!

Here is where the project turned lengthy. We have pretty average height ceilings in most of our house (besides the skylight rooms) and chandeliers are for the most part hung in taller ceilinged areas. We had to take quite a few links out of my pink chandelier but it hangs over a table and did not need to necessarily be above everyone's heads.
This new chandelier will be hanging in the entry way and definitely needed to be above everyone's heads. Even my extra tall brother in-law. There is an up side to this... I always have extra chain lengths laying around for other projects - like the chandelier for my bedroom mentioned earlier in this post. We started with 4 links, got the whole thing up there and I decided it needed to be shorter. So down it came and we tried again with only two links this time. Two was pretty perfect. Here is how the beauty looks now:

I am so happy with the way it turned out. The ORB finish makes it look so elegant. I even decided not to add any crystals to it to bling it up for fear it would look any less perfect. I can't wait to put some green garland around it at Christmas time. It makes me so happy! :-)

Here's the finished (sans candles) bedroom candle chandelier project (note the chain - this was leftover from the hallway chandelier):

How many more chandeliers do you think I can reasonably put in my house? We are up to 3 now... I am thinking the guest bath could use one and there is an ugly bug filled light outside my front door that needs something. Maybe not a chandelier but definitely a lantern of some kind.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Tree of Life

My living room has been kind of a blank slate so far, but no more. This past weekend I visited my mom's new store for the first time and created a bit of a masterpiece.

I had a couple different images for inspiration all found via Pinterest. First there is this "365 Days of Happiness" Tree from an etsy seller - going for 350 dollars over there.

Also found on pinterest, this button tree and this cool Wedding sign in thumbprint tree:

 I decided I wanted a bit of a combination of the three. I liked the charm and texture of the buttons, the curlicues of the thumb print tree, and the color scheme/idea behinds the 365 days tree. So I embarked on my creative journey - starting first at Michael's where they were having a killer canvas sale. I bought 5 16 x 20 canvases for $10. Unheard of! I only used 4, but here they are all laid out at my mom's store. 

I also picked out my color scheme at Michaels. I knew I wanted green to match my kitchen and kind of go with my couch, raspberry to match the paint we have picked out for our foyer, yellow, but not the exact yellow of the walls, and why not throw in some blue! We have no other blue in the living room but why not, a tree is natural and so is blue sky.

I used a foam roller to paint the background color on the canvases. I started with just pure color at one end and slowly added some white to create the gradient affect.

Next I sketched out my tree and outlined it with brown paint. This part of the process was very nerve wracking... but still fun! I used a brush with a chiseled edge, and went very slowly and carefully along. As you can see, the version below does not have many of the curlicues I wanted. Those had to be added with a different kind of brush. A softer pointer one.

Then I began to fill in the tree (also nerve wracking). I pushed the canvases together even though my intention was to hang them about an inch apart to make sure the tree lined up all the way across. By this point I had consumed a McCafe Frappe and was a little hopped up. It made the process interesting. :-)

After the tree was filled in I had to decide what kind of leaves I wanted and how I would accomplish creating them. I knew I was not advanced enough to make actual leaves look good, and I sort of liked the whimsicality of the round leaves on the 365 day inspiration tree above. I talked with my mom about using a paint brush or a polka dotter to make the leaves. In the end I decided finger paint would be the best technique... and it was definitely fun. I swirled lots of different colors together to make unique circles. She did go along and add the small dots with a polka dotter (basically a small dowel shaped tool with a sponge on the end to make nice circles).

It was about 1 a.m. when we finished the finger painting/polka dotting process so we called it a night. When I got back home to Indiana I added the finishing touch: the buttons. I bought this "Bucket of Buttons" at Michaels for $3 (originally 6 but I had a coupon). The jar of buttons I already owned.

First I laid out all the buttons where I wanted them. This process was much more laid back than actually painting on the circles because I could easily pick up the buttons and move them around... the paint was  more permanent. I just used a hot glue gun to attach them to the canvas.

Hanging the tree up, which I dubbed "The Tree of Life," was much harder than I imagined. There are about 30 little thumb tack holes in the wall behind them now (lets hope I never get sick of this and want to take it down!) from moving the tacks when it wasn't quite right. I still have plans to add two little birds to it someday, but for now I am loving it. It really brightens up the room and makes it an even more cheerful and colorful place.

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