Thursday, March 25, 2010

Demolition Man - Kitchen Part Deux

In my last post, I showed you my kitchen as it was and the inspiration photo from Layla at The Lettered Cottage.  Now, I can show you what we did.

As soon as school started in September, I got to work!  I had done a minimal amount of research (which is generally my way:  learn just enough to make me think I can do it and get myself into trouble) and had bought my paint and paint brushes.  Let me just say that I learned a lot while painting those cabinets and would do things slightly differently now, but as this blog header (and the Nester) says: "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.".  They're not perfect, but they're definitely beautiful!  Of course, once the white paint was up, the tiles that I hated looked even worse!  They HAD to go!

We had decided to go with granite tiles and I had settled on Kashmir White granite.  During our research, though, we learned that installing granite tile is not quite as simple as your garden variety tile.  For best results, all the edges had to be slightly rounded to meet the grout lines and the outside edges (that would show) had to be polished to match the shiny tops.  This was more work than we felt we could handle, so we decided to hire it out.  We quickly went from planning on spending a few hundred on tile to a few thousand on tile and installation.

I had just sent off a check for the first installment when I realized that for that kind of money, we might be able to afford a slab!!!  This led to some frantic research where we learned that, if we went with prefab granite (which is really just standard widths already cut and polished before it goes to the installer), it would actually BE LESS THAN the tile installation.  Granite slab here we come!

We went down and picked out the slab we liked best, made our appointment for the installation, and went home to plan our demolition weekend.  That turned out to be a job and a half and left us with this lovely kitchen for a few days:

Notice the nicely torn up backsplash wall.  Thank goodness I know how to put up drywall!  I see here we also put up the black beadboard on the island that weekend.  I had forgotten how much we actually did in a few days!  So, it's a mess, but you can already see how much nicer the white cabinets look.

On Tuesday, the installers came with my new granite countertops.  When they left, I had this:

Still no backsplash and we couldn't hook up the sink for another three days, but oh how lovely it was to me.  I literally hugged that counter top!

So, progress at this point...
We went from this:

To this:

Stay tuned for the finishing touches!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The BEST Wood Product EVER!

I just made the most amazing transformation on my grand piano and I had to share the product that caused it: Howard Restor-A-Finish.

This was recommended to me a few years ago by my piano tuner.  I have a grand piano that I inherited from my Great Aunt.  I love this piano, but the cats are very hard on it (it seems to be a trend).  They don't scratch the piano on purpose, they just seem to be very clumsy and they've marked it up pretty good (or bad as the case may be).

When the tuner recommended this product, I ordered it right away.  It's so easy to use (you just wipe it on and wipe it back off), but the results are astonishing!  Here are a few before and afters to give you an idea:

Lots of scratches and an unattractive cloudiness.


I swear this next picture is the same spot! (It's still a little wet, hence the blotchiness.)


Next up, some fairly deep scratches, but they're no match for my Restor-A-Finish!


Ahhh, so much better! 

It doesn't last forever, so it needs to be redone fairly regularly, but given that refinishing this thing is nowhere in the cards, this is a wonderful alternative!

The Restor-A-Finish comes in other colors too! (I use Mahogany on the piano and Cherry on some other, lighter furniture.)  And, just for clarification, I'm not being paid to talk about this product.  I just love it so.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Our Little Green Friends

As I sit at my computer, I can hear a chorus of Springtime music and I think it's wonderful.  It's frogs.  Lots and lots of little frogs.  We have a reservoir behind our house and I imagine they all congregate there at night to do a little courting.  Like the frog equivalent of Spring Break.

We find lone frogs hanging around our yard fairly regularly this time of year.  This is NOT what they look like:

Though, you do have to love a red-eyed tree frog.  This is more like our froggies:

They're so small!  It always amazes me how such a tiny creature can make such a loud noise.  And when they get together to sing, watch out!

I didn't always love the sound.  We moved into this house in April and some of our first nights in the house were spent wondering if we would go crazy with all that noise.  We thought it would happen every night...forEVER.  Turns out, they only sing in the Spring.  And now I love them because, to me, they are the first sign that Winter is over and Spring is here to stay.  So, now I say, "Sing, Frogs! Sing!"

We All Live in a Yellow Submarine - Kitchen Part One

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had big plans for our kitchen.  We've lived in this house for 7 years now and, while I thought our kitchen was to die for when we moved in, I quickly got over that feeling.  Our house was practically brand new, though, and I felt like it was wasteful to do anything to it until it had been properly amortized.  I figured it had to be 10 years old before I could change it up.  (?!?! yeah, I have no idea)

Here's the kitchen as it was:

Very yellow.  The fact that the wood floors and the cabinets were the same color all the way to the ceiling drove me crazy!

It actually was only this bland for the last several months.  Prior to that I had the walls painted two tones of aqua, with a light shade on the top third and a darker shade on the bottom.  It was very Vern Yip and actually looked much better than it sounds.  The tile has some aqua in it and it was the only color I could figure to pull in.

I got tired of the bright colors, though, and just painted everything cream until I figured out what else to do.

Last summer, my dislike of the kitchen was quickly heading towards hate - especially for the slatey blue-green tile that was impossible to coordinate with.  Then, I stumbled onto a picture of Layla's kitchen at The Lettered Cottage.  So beautiful and she did it all herself.  I knew I couldn't get away with having black cabinets because our kitchen gets very little natural light, but I saw Layla does consultations, so I signed up!

Here was Layla's inspiration drawing for me:

I got this picture one night in August while on vacation (I was looking at it on my phone!) and was so excited, I couldn't sleep.  It was just so much brighter and sooo much more interesting!  LOVE the pendant lights and the cross-back bar stools.  I couldn't believe that could actually be MY kitchen!

Best of all, it seemed completely doable.  Most of the changes were paint and we've tiled before, so I knew we could do the kitchen too.  I managed to convinced my husband that we should lay tile the first week in October, which gave me a month to get the cabinets painted.  I could not WAIT to get started...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jonesing for a Project

It was bad.  I was jittery and jumpy.  It was August and I needed a project!  I knew it couldn't be a big project because we were crazy busy that summer, but it had to be a meaty project.  I had recently stumbled across this tutorial on a faux board and batten treatment at It's the Little Things that Make a House a Home and I loved it.  I really wanted to do it in one of the main floor rooms, but felt that was too much of an undertaking for my limited timeframe.  Then I remember the smallest room in our house: our itty-bitty laundry room.  What a perfect place to try this out.  If I loved it, I'd have a very pretty laundry room and, if I didn't?  Well, it's the laundry room and it's upstairs.  No harm, no foul.

Unfortunately, I don't have any before pictures, but I'm sure you can imagine it.  Just shrink down whatever you're imagining and make it half the size.  Seriously.  There is no extra floor space in our laundry room.  Not even enough for a cat box!

Once I had my plan, I dragged my family to the home improvement store to get the trim. (I don't know why, but we always seem to go there as a family.  I'm sure our kids will thank us for it eventually.)  Then my husband and I got to work cutting down pieces.

I do need to insert a word of thanks to my guy here.  I'm sure I told him that he wouldn't need to do anything on this project.  That I'd do it all myself.  But somehow, when the day arrived, there he was helping me cut down the trim and hammer it to the wall.  What a guy.

A can of blue paint, a can of white paint, and a fair bit of elbow grease and here's our laundry room now:

The pictures are all of clothes pins that I found on a free stock photo site (I think it was EveryStockPhoto).  I just printed them out, taped them to some white card stock and shoved them into the frames.  I was thinking they would probably be temporary, but I actually like them quite a bit:

We took off the door, since it was never closed and it really helps open up the space.  Of course, our garage is another project that I have yet to tackle, so after several months, this is still what the hallway outside the laundry room looks like:


If this were a room I used more, I'd probably paint the cabinets white and maybe even spray paint the washer and dryer, but it's my laundry room and I'm liking it just fine.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Oh, the pressure!

I'm giving in to peer pressure.  Specifically, Becca-pressure.  Some of you may know the kind of pressure
I'm speaking of.  You may have your own Becca. 

Becca is my friend and co-decorating-conspirator.  Becca is always up for a new project.  Becca does not take no for an answer.

And when she gets an idea in her head, watch out!  You may not want to do her idea.  You may fight it, kicking and screaming.  But 9 times out of 10, you'll find yourself giving in. 

So, enter my new blog.  My friend has been telling me for months that we both need to start blogs so we can post pictures of all of our projects.  I'm not much of a journaler and my last blog attempt (to track the progress of my triathlon training) died after three months.  I've been saying no.  Really, I have!  But last week, two things happened:

First, she challenged me on her blog to start mine.  I can rarely say no to a dare.

Second, I saw this post by the Nester at Nesting Place and fell. in. love.  I've been wanting to do a slipcover for various pieces of furniture and the pictures got my blood pumping.  The little blue pillow just kills me, I love it so much.

I decided that this chair really needed a face lift (sorry for the blurry pictures, the shutter speed was incredibly slllloooowwww):

This chair belonged to my great Aunt whom I adored.  My mom had the chair after her and gave it to me when we bought our house.  It sits in our bedroom where my cat scratches at the beautiful legs in the middle of the night.  How heart breaking is this?  Can you see the detail that used to be there?

I've been mulling over the fate of this chair in the back of my head and, when I saw the Nester's pictures, it sprang right to the front.  I knew what my next project was going to be!

I went out that day (last Friday), bought my cotton duck and threw it in the washing machine...twice.  Unfortunately, Friday was also a work day, so I had to wait to do anything with it until that evening.  Finally, once the kids were in bed, I had the chair brought downstairs and got to work cutting and pinning.

I don't have pictures of that, but it's probably for the best.  They would involve me muttering and tearing my hair out.  Things did not go so well.  After two hours of pinning and tucking and unpinning and cutting, we realized the problem: I had picked the most difficult chair I could possibly find for my first time creating a slipcover.

The chair has a curved back that is wider on the top than the bottom and the seat has a much more pronounced curve than the back.  Which meant that every time I tried to pin the back to the bottom or the arms, the fabric would pull across the back in an unsightly way.  I brought my husband in for some consultation (which really means me muttering and him trying to stay clear of any flying debris) and we came up with an idea: I would treat it like a wingback chair and cut three panels for the back.

Unfortunately, by that time it was past midnight, so off to bed with us.  The next morning, I tried out my new idea and it worked beautifully!  I had the main part of the chair put together that day.  Of course, I had to copy the Nester's cute ruffle, which took a bit more work (and a whole lot of swearing at my sewing machine - but that's another story).  Today, I finished the slipcover (with a hearty, "It's good enough for who it's for!") and it's back in my bedroom!

Here now, is my beautiful new, handed-down-from-my-great-aunt-Helen chair:

Isn't she beautiful?  Of course, I don't have that blue pillow that makes my heart go pitter patter.  In fact, I don't have any suitable pillows.  It clearly needs something, though.  How about this?

Two beautiful things together.  Still, not quite right.  I reeeallly want that blue pillow.  Ahhh, there we go (gotta love technology!):

I've linked to Just a Girl's Show and Share Day

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