March 23, 2010

The Bathroom

The bathroom was a kick-myself-in-the-head project.  It was a doozy.  I hated it.  I could definitely see the progress, because it was also the room in most need of a paint brush and a caulking gun.  But it just killed.  The reason was, I had in my mind that I wanted a grey bathroom.  When I say grey, I mean white with black in it.  You know, something kinda modern and clean-looking.  What I don't mean is Sweet Baby Boy, Welcome to my Nursery! blue.  And I didn't mean purple either.  Turns out I seriously should have consulted with someone besides me and the voice in my head in the paint store.  I'm sure if you had that moment on video you could see the smoke coming out of my ears I was thinking so hard.  Gah.  Every time I try to pick out paint I wear myself totally OUT.  My feet get hot.  I have to go to the bathroom.  My cell phone rings; it's buried at the bottom of my bag.  I'm thirsty, I forgot my water bottle.  I have a small piece of fabric that includes the perfect shade that I keep holding up to every swatch, hoping.  I won't even go into how much sway the name of a paint has over me.  Because, I mean, Hillside might be the right color, but Bay Leaf just sounds better!  So that's my paint color plight.

Unsurprisingly, I ended up cutting in around the shower, the sink and the fixtures with the baby blue (which, for the record, is officially named Silver Mist by Benjamin Moore), and then had to redo the whole thing.  Lesson learned: if the swatch is horrid, the wall will might be horrid.  If half of a wall is still unbearable - stop. painting.  In the end, I had Ben Moore remix the paint, and then I mixed it again.  Rather than grey, I ended with something just a hair more serious than what I lovingly nicknamed My Little Pony Eyelash Whisper purple.

It is what it is, a rented bathroom with a color I didn't choose the first time and would never choose again, but has ended up growing on me.  Dustan replaced some molding around the shower with fresh cut strips of wood, we caulked and cleaned and I painted every inch of trim with glossy white.  I mean - our bathtub is actually pretty inviting now!  Awesome.  Here are a few small projects making up the larger project:

Our mirror before I painted it black.  (I see a red door, baby.  It's my theme song.)

Our hamper before.

The bathroom before. 

Too bad those previous renters didn't leave behind the stupendous selection of Bath n' Body Works handsoap!  (I mean, did you count them?  Those were some fresh coconut japanese honeydew rainwater cherry blossom hands.  


March 22, 2010

The Treehouse Playroom Project

I love looking at what is taking shape in this playroom.  It all started about a month ago.  Dustan and I were over at the Knapps hanging out one Saturday.  Brian had caught a throw-up virus that week and had been puking his guts out, and was recovering from being sick.  That stands out in my mind because the whole time we brainstormed, he was enthusiastic in his Brian kind of way, but he was also pretty grey.  Anyway, while he'd been out of commission and the two boys ran, and the toddler toddled, and the baby rolled, Linds made use of all her spare time by drawing up sketches (that she also colored) of her Woodland Whimsy Playroom Design.  She presented her plans to us like a contractor in Home Depot.  She wanted a stage over here, with opening compartments that the kids can just lift up (see, like this?) and throw all their props under, and a table here for art and Legos and over here - here is where the treehouse will be.  Here's the ladder, and then the railing is here..and then maybe a swing underneath?  Oh, and behind the stage, this wall will be covered in chalkboard paint so they can draw scenes and stuff.

Brian was pretty pale.  Dustan's gears were turning.  In my mind I'm thinking This is never gonna happen. 

Buuuut, it so did.

Here is the first batch of proof that four people with skillz and heart can do anything in six days.

I wish I had a picture of the opening stage compartments.  Instead, there's Jack and Em getting ready to board a rocketship.  And here's Emerson climbing the ladder of the treehouse.

Already more things have taken shape.   Because...this is kinda sketchy if you look long enough.  Just one accidental play-shove from behind and Em's nose would be the color of his shirt... There's a door there now.

But Em - how do you really feel about having a treehouse in your playroom now?

Along with the trees and starry night up inside the treehouse, Linds also painted this huge tree and then sewed a swirl of leaves onto the curtains as well.  And she did these adorable little mommy and baby owls below.  Hey - but that Yam and Graham Cracker Crust trim job on the windows and baseboards?  THAT WAS ALL ME.

Ok, well, that's the first installment.  I know there will be more pictures because there are more plans.  The treehouse and stage gave this room so much momentum.  Can't wait to see the next things take shape: cozy carpets, a table/art station, small benches for the table and for the "audience," more woodland creatures on the walls, and who knows what else!  This project has definitely unlocked an eagerness in us to do more of this kind of stuff.

We've been looking at a certain website specializing in the deliciousifying of children's spaces for a while now.  You know how when you were a kid you had a friend who had a ________ (trampoline, horse, go-cart, four-wheeler, laundry chute, swimming pool) and your one goal in life was to get to that friend's house?  And when you got there they just kinda shrugged off the fact that there was a magic fairy mushroom in their bedroom?  You know the one?  Well, the possibilities for making your kid that kid, are endless.

March 21, 2010

You know how sometimes you get something in your head that you really want to make, but you can't find a recipe anywhere for it?  You search by ingredients on all the right online cooking sources and still - nothing.  This is how I was with an ice cream pie I wanted to make.  I didn't want nuts or fruit or even chocolate getting in the way of the ice cream, and I definitely wanted the ingredients to include vanilla ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese and whipped cream.  So that's what I started with and just kind of felt my way through.

I put it all in an Oreo crust and ended up tossing some chocolate on top (it was actually leftover fondue from Valentine's Day, made from semi-sweet chocolate, heavy whipping cream and brandy).

Best served after sitting out for a few minutes so it's not frozen completely solid.

Ok, I'd find a way to incorporate my ice cream pie into some deeper, more meaningful subject and write a bit longer but I have to go cut Dusty's hair.

March 18, 2010

The Kitchen Overhaul

Ok, here goes.  Here goes the before and afters of my dear little kitchen.  I know I'm behind on this blog, and today's my Trailisms day, which I was really, really excited about.  But it will have to wait because these pictures are starting to mildew on my hard drive.  They're starting to suffocate, because I have promised them exposure.  My kitchen was the second room in our apartment to get an overhaul.

This is a shot Dustan actually took when he was living in the apartment with nothing but a sleeping bag and an alarm clock on the floor.  He came a few months early and scoured the place, did tons of caulking and sanding and puttying, and saved us so much work in the long run.  It was such a lifesaver.

When I came, our belongings came, and exploded into every cranny.  I think I was seriously in this box-schlepping position for a solid month.  All we did was move (the same) boxes from one corner to the next.  I look now and see dirty blinds and a frying pan that was on loan to us from some of the first people we met here (the Whipples).  The best looking thing in this picture is that in-season tomato.

To keep the energy up in the middle of all the boxes, I threw some green on the wall.  The green paint was a bargain, and bargains don't find me easily.  We found this color in the "mistint" category at Lowe's and grabbed it up for five bucks.  Our last kitchen was this color too, and we weren't done with it.  Looking at this picture now I realize it would be a very long time from this point before these blinds would come down and the boxes would go away, because we threw ourselves into the cabinets next.

Here's a word or two on painting cabinets.  Do it.  Cabinets aren't to be revered.  If the wood is sooo nice and sooo expensive and sooo old, but you hate them?  Just go for it.  Well, maybe if the wood is really nice, you should sand them good and stain them a better color.  It's just that cabinets take up all the real estate in the kitchen, and totally define the room.  So much so that if you don't like them, and you can't afford new ones, it's time to paint.  This apartment is a rental, so rather than feeling like I could do a halfway job of it, I felt like the pressure was really on.  I don't think our landlords really care, but I was determined to leave the cabinets looking way better than the boring pre-fab brown that they were.

Fortunately there was no crappy hardware to remove (and if there had been hardware, it would've been crappy), so we just sanded everything.  We didn't go nuts, because we weren't trying to do anything but scuff everything up really good.  If your cabinets have a solid veneer finish, you can't skimp on this step.  It will make your paint job so much better if you take the finish way down.  Next we took off all the doors and primed everything.  I honestly still don't even know if this was necessary, because I still ended up doing two solid coats of black.  But I'd never undertaken something like cabinets, and because I knew my paint job would be so...permanent...I decided to take the meticulously time-consuming step of priming.  

After the cabinets were totally primed, the green happened.

And then, the black happened.  I know I already talked about types of paint finish on my bedroom post, but I'll say it again.  When painting something like a bed or a night stand or a picture frame, I always always always use eggshell or flat finish.  Flat black looks blacker and more expensive.  However, in a high traffic area like cabinets, drawers, baseboard, etc. I always use a semi-gloss.  I definitely don't prefer my paint jobs to be SHINY! like these cabinets are.  But the clean-up is a breeze, and again, I'm sure we won't be the last people to use them.  (Oh yeah, Dust spray painted the hood over the stove white).

After my walls and cabinets were done, I revamped this baby.  Spring gave me this and it's been an incredible space-saver in every kitchen I've ever had (this one is my third).  For so long I've meant to poly it, but now I'm sooo glad I never did!  It was totally unfinished, so it soaked up the primer, two coats of bicycle blue and three coats of poly like a pro.  (I removed the hooks because they just weren't functional, but you'll see them show up later in another project).

Whew!  Starting to take shape.  This is making me tired just posting about it.  Next I conquered a piece of furniture that Mom gave me. 

It was originally white, and she bought it for my sister's nursery.  It's been every color under the sun since, and in so many different rooms, but the sentimentality is preserved in that the drawers have the original yellow gingham lining they did back when it was a piece of children's furniture.

Incorporating this piece of bedroom furniture into the kitchen was one of the best decisions I made in this whole process.  It holds all of my towels and kitchen linens, baggies, foil, wax paper, pot holders, birthday decorations, expired coupons and Trail's doggy treats.  I didn't think it would work at first, but after painting it the same semi-gloss black and adding the same hardware as the cabinets, it totally fit in.  I'm beginning to see that these pictures have no scale so you feel like you ate an Eat Me wafer, right Jess?  Ok, here:

Yeah?  Unless I told you that metal breadbox was Barbie-sized.  Ha! (I did the poem painting one day when I was totally sick of painting furniture.  It was not my idea.  I am not that creative.  Here's the inspiration and the how-to).

Up next, the dirty window.  But first - do you see that alley between the buildings where the trash dumpster sits?  That's where Dustan hides Mike the Bike.  He just rolled him out tonight as I type, washed up him (on the sidewalk) and charged the battery.  This old Suzuki just sat through a Wisconsin winter without a tarp and fired right up.  Ok, so the window.  If you look at the first pictures on this post, you can see that there was a piece of ugly exposed wood on the other side of the glass that we couldn't do anything about.  So Dust built me a shelf right in that spot.  I painted it white to blend in with the window and hung some cafe curtains.

I love this window morning:


and nearing-night:

I think that covers it!  Aside from a few finishing touches...

A vintange tea towel my Mamaw Meade bought in England.

And some illuminated bananas.  Done!

Oh yeah - turns out I forgot something.  There was a lot of wasted space on either side of the fridge when we got here, so we pushed the fridge as close to the wall as possible and Dustan built in that little shelf thing for me. I painted it with the cabinet paint and it gives me another little spot for kitchen stuff to keep my counters from getting cluttered.  

The final kitchen before and afters!

There's the kitchen post that has been waiting to get out for so long.  And you know what I just realized?  I didn't even post pictures of the before and after of my sweet pantry.  Dustan built custom shelves in there and we painted them the same black as the cabinets.  But pretty much the thought of making this post any longer makes me feel the same way I felt after finishing this kitchen.  Like: