Tag Archives: decor

Bathroom Makeover

When I bought my house last summer I got it because of the potential. You could call it move-in ready–but it wasn’t current and fresh. Case in point: the main bathroom. It was a good size but it was tired. I hated it so much that I don’t even have before pictures. This shot of the old vanity tells the story though:

old vanity

I had three contractors quote me for a bathroom reno. The prices ranged between $4,000 and $17,000 USD. No thanks! This room just needed freshening up. My dad transformed my kitchen and I knew he could improve the bathroom on a budget too.

The shower doors opened up the space and let light in from the window over the tub.

bath after

A round mirror and a new, taller vanity were inexpensive replacements. My mom surprised me with a neat soap dispenser cover at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

new hardware

Latté-colored walls freshened up the room, and silver spray paint turned the wood medicine cabinet into something funky. Brushed nickel hardware took the room from the 70’s to the 21st Century.

mirrors

The icing on the cake was a custom wall decal by Write At Home that lists a section of the subway stops on the Bloor line in Toronto–the very stops I traversed when I lived in Toronto.

wall decal

I made sure the Castle Frank subway station was included in the list. It’s what John Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, named his cottage. He named the humble structure after his son and–tongue firmly in cheek–called it a castle. The “castle” is long gone and a subway station is in the location now (in a neighborhood called Cabbagetown).

Castle Frank is also the name I gave my house. It’s a nod to my roots in Toronto, references my own humble abode, and honors my dog, Frank, who frankly, runs the place.

So there’s a history lesson and a walk down memory lane in my bathroom. Priceless.

bath collage

Speaking of prices, here’s the rundown of the costs:

  • Shower doors:  $150 (Home Depot)
  • Sink and vanity: $200 (Home Depot)
  • Faucets: $40 (Home Depot)
  • Towel racks: $20 (Ikea)
  • Round mirror: $40 (Ikea)
  • Extendable mirror: $15 (Ikea)
  • Wall decal: $50 (Write At Home)
  • Wall paint: $20 (Fred Meyer’s)
  • Spray Paint: $6 (Home Depot)

At just over $500, this is a far cry from what the contractors wanted. It goes to show that with a little creativity and sweat equity (or in my case, an awesome dad willing to dive into the project), you can breath new life into a room that once looked past its prime.

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Kitchen Style: Before and After

My parents visited me recently and while my mom and I were busy having fun and shopping, my awesome dad gave my house a makeover. My place is 50 years old–and was starting to show its age. I love mid-century design, but “worn out” and “old” was not part of the plan. The kitchen was renovated in the early 80s, but wasn’t looking fresh. Here’s what it looked like when I first moved in:

kitchen originally

Sink area before

stove area before

The first thing I did was replace the appliances. That was easy–except there was no dishwasher so I gave up 7 precious drawers so I could add one.

I lived with the oak cabinets for a few months, but soon realized that the color was too dark for a room with a low-ceiling. Besides, they didn’t have handles and the finish was wearing off.

I knew replacing the cabinets was a major undertaking–and not cheap! Lucky for me, my dad is a painter. Instead of paying for a major renovation, he painted the cabinets white, added brushed nickel knobs, painted the hinges to match the knobs, and together with my husband, replaced the white counter with a slab of wood block. One new sink and faucet later and look what I have:

new kitchen

The sink area

New deli block countertop

a new, round sink

view of the corner

stove and counter detail

white cupboards

nickel knobs

To make up for the lost drawer space, I bought a magnetic knife holder and a rod to hang utensils. Both were from Ikea and were really inexpensive. I moved the paper towers off the counter to open up space and tied in more black and nickel accents with the microwave, toaster, and electric kettle.

microwave and space to hang things

My dad even wallpapered the backsplash with textured paper made to look like stucco. It’s paintable too, so if I ever want to change the color theme, it’s a quick switch. And that little ceramic plate the bananas are resting on? My mom found that at a garage sale. It’s got a photo of coffee beans printed on it. It’s great for things like keeping fruit, cooking utensils or coffee mugs off the counter.

counter detail

Speaking of the counter, I love it! I treated it with a mineral oil mixture especially designed for wood countertops and cutting boards. Water beads off of it and messes wipe up nicely. That said, if I had a few kids and my kitchen took a beating, I might opt for a lower maintenance surface. While I can sand out stains and water marks, it does need occasional oiling and liquids should be wiped up in a timely manner. But with just two adults in the house it’s not exactly a water park in the kitchen so it’s perfect for us.

Cost rundown:

  • Primer and white paint: $40 (Home Depot)
  • Silver paint for hinges: $7 (Home Depot)
  • Wallpaper: $15 (Lowe’s)
  • Knobs: $45 (Home Depot)
  • Counter tops: $260 (Ikea)
  • Sink: $40 (Ikea)
  • Faucet: $70 (Lowe’s)

The appliances were all on sale at Sears and I used the Sears points I earned from that purchase to get the microwave. What could have been a messy, lengthy and expensive renovation turned into a weekend project that came in at under $500. Of course I had my dad’s free labor. Always a plus!

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The Dressing Room

I moved into my house this past summer, and even though none of my decorating is 100% done, I might as well start showing you what I’ve been up to. The biggest luxury is my dressing room (aka the shoe room). We have a modest, three-bedroom ranch with smallish closets so I took the smallest of the bedrooms and turned it into my walk-in closet. How decadent!

my closet

This is where I blog, and on days when I work at home, it’s where my writing gets done. The best part: The bookshelves full of shoes! See, I bought a Kindle a couple of years ago and I sold most of my books. The few I have for reference (cookbooks and such), I keep in a closet.

shoe shelves

Having my shoes on display does make me seem a little like Imelda, but I find I wear them all more because I know what I have. And no, I don’t need to buy shoes for a while!

Bracelets, rings, and studs

dangly earrings and necklaces

Putting my costume jewelry on display makes it easy to grab a bracelet, necklace or pair of earrings in a hurry. The necklaces are hanging on simple nails, but I plan to upgrade to small, funky knobs soon. The screened-in vintage picture frame is from the Fremont Sunday Market but it would be a fun and easy DIY project.

I even found a neat way to display my sunglasses. I saw this idea in the Ikea catalog. I tied a ribbon from perfume packaging to the top of the hanger to finish it off.

sunglasses on display

I removed the closet doors and replaced them with purple curtains so I can open it wide and see everything at once. The soft fabric absorbs sound better than wood doors so the room isn’t as echo-y. Also because the cat box is in there–gotta be practical!

drapey closet doors

To balance all the dark wood ladder shelves (even my desk is a ladder style), I bought a lucite chair from Ikea. It’s fresh and modern and doesn’t impede light or sight lines.

lucite chair

The ideas in this project translate to lots of spaces. The book-turned-shoe shelves would look nice in a bedroom and would fit in an actual walk-in closet. No matter what your space, I highly recommend displaying jewelry (in my last place, I hung necklaces on my bathroom wall). You’ll wear what you own more often if you can see it.

All I have to do now is paint the walls. What color would you choose?

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Solaire Chairs for my Front Entry

When I bought my house, I thought of all the wonderful Mid-Century things I could do to it. The place was built in 1961 and is begging for a retro remodel.

One of my first projects was sprucing up the front (if you look back, the area to the left of the entry was soil, with a topiary-style tree and a yellow bush). I remembered an amazing style of chair from my childhood. I didn’t know the name of the chair, but several web searches later, I found out: The Solaire.

Solaire chair

Two Solaire chairs now sit in my front entry. As luck would have it, one of the few places in the country where I found the chairs was right here in Seattle!

two Solaire Chairs

I transplanted the tree and bush to the backyard, covered the soil with weed-inhibiting fabric from the garden store, and laid down a layer of pebbles. Now I have two sunny pops of color by my front door and a place for friends to sit. The backyard is quieter and more private, but it’s nice to people watch and catch the evening sun from the front.

orange and yellow Solaire chairs

I like the story behind the chair. The Solaire was designed in 1972 by Fabio Fabiano and Michelange Panzini. It’s a terrific representation of a clean, modern design. They were popular poolside in backyards and motels across Canada and the USA. I’m proud to have a piece of Canadian design history. And in case anyone else wants them, I chained them down! But if you’re in Seattle, you can buy them at Click! Design That Fits.

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Beautiful Bats and Venus Fly Traps

When I found out that this month’s theme post at Sophistique Noir was floral, I knew exactly what to write about. Last spring I participated in EBEW’s floral group post, and I wore florals in Florida, so I’m not against wearing pretty patterns. But I didn’t want to showcase another floral outfit. This time, I want to show you an amazing find: Purple and black bat-and-floral wallpaper!

cute bat

When my group at work moved into a different building one of the first things I did was explore the area. I’m in a cube but there are a few offices in the building. In one of the swankier offices I found an entire wall of this amazing wallpaper. I don’t know whose space it used to be, but he or she sure knew how to decorate! I love how the office is currently a contractor bay and the paper remains.

bat in flight

I snapped photos and showed my friends my amazing find. I didn’t have a blog when I found this wallpaper but I’m happy to share the photos with you now. I did a web search for “bat wallpaper” and had page after page of desktop wallpaper links. I kept hitting dead ends until my colleague and friend Pleiades found the source: Flavor Paper.

flavor papers

Flavor Paper has a wallpaper section with amazing patterns. Some of my favorites are Flower Pedal, Flower of Love, City Park, and Iris. But nothing is better than Elysian Fields. I prefer the black and purple, but check out the other colors too. In fact, the colors change the look of the paper so much! It might seem obvious, but the same print in antique pink has a totally different effect.

pattern

I’d put this up on one wall of a home office or paper the entire bathroom! I think an oval mirror with a silver frame would pop against this background. I love that this paper is pretty with a dark side. Even the plants are dangerous!

What would you do with this paper? Do you have any others that you like?

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Wedgwood Art Festival

Nothing says summer like an art festival. Practically every weekend all summer long different Seattle neighborhoods hold festivals where people gather to eat, drink, listen to music, enjoy the weather, and of course, shop.

My friend Lynn is a volunteer coordinator for the Wedgwood Art Festival, and encouraged me to sign up for a shift as a photographer. I was excited to be an officially sanctioned picture-taker for the day and ended up capturing about 125  photos. Here are a few of my favorites:

Lynn was also a vendor at the festival. Here are her soy candle B-lights. They’re tiny candles in wine cap lids.

B lights

The weather was perfect, and as I wandered around the festival, I ended up buying a few things. At Laughing Girl Arts I found an adorable ring. You’ll see it in a future outfit post. Here’s a sample of what her booth had to offer:

jewelry

I bought a scarf from Tasha’s Accessories. There were so many beautiful, soft fabrics that is was hard to decide (I chose the giraffe print).

scarves

I was intrigued by the recycled metal sculptures at this booth, and suddenly wished I had a yard to put one in:

metal

In addition to these booths, there was handblown glass, photography, quilts, dolls, watercolor, pastels, gift cards, woodwork, and so much more. Kids had their faces painted, I had a delicious vegan quesadilla, and I listened to music and wandered around in the sun. I met the author of The Lost Sea Cat, a children’s book, and I petted many a dog.

Check out the Festival website and don’t forget to like them on Facebook.

I’ll be heading off to more art fairs this summer. Do you have plans to visit some as well? What’s the best score you’ve found at a street fair?

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Organizing my Jewelry

I like buying and making jewelry. Add to that equation, the fact that I rarely get rid of pieces and you would be correct in assuming I have quite the collection. I’ve recently started getting organized so I can use all my pieces and not forget about them. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

I displayed all my hook-back earrings on a picture frame with screen behind it. It’s really convenient, hangs on my bathroom wall, and looks nice too. You can have your very own by shopping at Sadie Sewbaggin’s Etsy page. She’s a friend of mine, so tell her I sent you.

earrings

For all my studs (and other post-back earrings), I found this display rack on eBay. Yes, it’s probably for a retail display, but it works for personal use too.

studs

I didn’t get fancy with my necklaces. I simply hammered a few nails into the wall at various heights and display them that way.

necklaces

My loose pendants are in this beautiful wooden box that my friend Tom made. He made it! Isn’t that crazy? When it comes to woodworking, I’m all thumbs, but at least I still have them!

pendants

I’m still devising a plan for my bracelets and rings. I might buy a retail bracelet display that I saw at a craft store. It’s all velvety and elegant. I’d like to make a ring pillow but I don’t exactly know how. Any ideas? Maybe I’ll ask Tom.

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Another Cable-Knit Pillow

My first cable-knit pillow sold on Etsy so I decided to make a few more. I bought some cable-knit sweaters at Goodwill and washed them. So far, I’ve completed one. The others will be ready soon.

pillow

First, I flipped the sweater inside out, measured and marked a square the size of my pillow form (I bought a pillow casing at a craft store), and sewed it on three sides. Then I cut it and turned it right-side out. I used the sweater’s original finishing at the waist as my fourth side. I slipped the casing inside the cover and sewed it shut with two non-functioning brass buttons. If that sounds like too much work, you can just buy this one.

After I cut apart the sweater, the remnants looked rather appealing. I tried it on and whaddaya know. It’s bold, it’s unconventional, but it’s stylish.

cropped top

By a weird coincidence, unbeknownst to me until I was surfing around blogs a couple of days ago, I found a DIY project showing how to make such a cropped sweater. And the idea originally came from Preen, a London-based design label often described as evocative and sexual. Maybe I’m not so crazy after all. Well, except that when I wear this, I want to say (in a Dieter from Sprockets voice) “I turned this sweater into a pillow but the sleeves still work.” That’s a bit crazy.

two for one

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Swinging 60’s Panton S Chairs

“Welcome to my space-age bachelor pad.”

That’s how I plan to welcome guests to my home as soon as I get my Panton S chairs. A couple of months ago I wrote about the Tulip table I ordered, and how I needed a coordinating set of chairs. The table is fantastic! The chairs, as they say, are in the mail.panton chair

I chose the Panton S chairs for a few reasons. First, they don’t have “legs” so my blind cat will have fewer obstacles to navigate. Second, the chairs are plastic (well, technically polypropylene). They’re going to be really easy to clean, are stackable, and will function as indoor/outdoor seating, depending on the season. Finally, they’re sexy!

I love the sleek, fluid design and the almost sculptural look of them. I don’t have any plastic furniture in my home, but I think these chairs will add just the right amount of Swingin’ 60’s feel and help me create an eclectic vibe in my dining room.

So just who was the genius behind the chair? Verner Panton. He’s one of Denmark’s most influential designers. He worked with bright-colored plastics and created a futuristic style of furniture in the 60’s and 70’s. He designed the Panton S chair in 1960, making it four years older than the Tulip table. A May-December romance? Nah, I consider both items Mid-Century Modern pieces.

Reproductions of the Panton S chairs are available at Lexington Modern, the same place I ordered my Tulip table. However, I ordered my chairs from Pretty Stores. They have reasonable prices, high-quality reproductions, and the shipping was fast and professional. You can read about another experience I had with Pretty Stores in my post about my Barcelona chair.

As soon as I get the chairs, I’ll share pictures of my new dining room.

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Cable-knit Pillow Project

I went to Goodwill this past weekend and got inspired. In addition to the Windows 7 skirt I fashioned from a gigantic men’s t-shirt, I made a cable-knit pillow from a sweater.

cable-knit pillow

Here’s how I did it: Fearing the knit would unravel if I cut the fabric first, I flipped the sweater inside out, measured and marked a 14″ x 14″ section (of the front and back of the sweater and sewed it on three sides. Then I cut it and turned it right-side out. I used the sweater’s original finishing at the waist as my fourth side.

I bought a pillow form, slipped inside the casing, and sewed it shut with three non-functioning buttons. Well, I guess they function as closures for the pillow. They don’t function as buttons because I didn’t add buttonholes (who am I Martha Stewart?).

If absolutely necessary, I can always cut the buttons off and remove the stuffing, but both the pillow and casing are washable so, when needed, I can just throw the whole thing in the machine. That is, if you don’t buy it first. I added the pillow to my Esty shop, just in case someone finds it easier to buy this one instead of making one from scratch.

As always, I give this project an E for easy (I wouldn’t have it any other way).

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