Thursday, January 31, 2013

Basement Bathroom Refreshed

Our basement bathroom is probably the only room in our house that hasn't gotten any attention since we moved in. No, scratch that, it IS the only room. As of last week it looked exactly the same as it did the day we toured our house, minus the trash can, the paper towel holder, and the blue bath mat. Everything else was a completely blank slate.



Now I can no longer say that because this room finally got some love and is looking better than ever. I mentioned last week that I painted and tried my hand at a custom color. I mixed equal parts Behr Dolphin Fin with Behr Sterling and came up with my own color I affectionately called A Dolphin Named Sterling. It's a great blue gray that really helped brighten up the windowless room. 

Here's where we're at now:


The stool is from Ikea and I would like to eventually paint it but decided to leave it as is until inspiration strikes



We don't have a mounted TP holder so this little stand, originally meant for hand towels, does the job just fine and even holds an extra roll


I replaced the old ugly pulls with these $2 shiny chrome beauties from Martha Stewart


The West Elm hand towels were one of my Christmas gifts and I love them so


The mat is also from West Elm but it was a little large for the space so I simply folded it a bit.
We don't ever shower in here but if we do we can simply move the mat over to the shower area.


Extra TP and a candle with matches sit on a 50¢ thrift store tray


And for fun, a little Before and After:



Now the room isn't technically "done" but it's definitely an improvement. I still need to add some art so hopefully I can take care of that real soon. I'd also like to replace the boring old ceiling fixture but for now it does the job. The best part of all is that this little makeover cost me very little money. The ceiling paint (BM White Dove) and wall paint were already owned so they were free. The only things I bought were the bath mat (on sale $25), the Ikea stool ($15), and the tray (50¢) for a grand total of $40.50. Not too shabby.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Bit of Basement Progress

I've been talking about the work being done in the basement for a while now so it's high time you actually see some of our progress. To refresh your memory, here's what the space looked like right around New Year's last year:


I then cleaned it up just enough to bring it to this stage:


But then things got messy again, but thankfully not as bad as the Before. I just needed to organize better so everything that wasn't being used got thrown out or donated and everything else that didn't belong in the room was moved into the back storage area on the other side of the basement. Now all that's left is my crafting supplies that still need their own space set up and our TV/movie watching area complete with new (to us) couches! These guys were a Craigslist find a little before Christmas and I was so excited when I found them for all of $70. Two Pottery Barn Basic sofas for $70. Gotta love that. 


They came from a really nice home in a great area so I wasn't the least bit worried about them being dirty and the whole thing is slipcovered so I was able to take everything off and wash it myself.

The truth is I actually planned to get new slipcovers for them so for Christmas I got two of the Ikea Ektorp covers in gray after reading quite a few blogs that mentioned they were the exact same size and completely interchangeable. Well I'm here to tell you they're NOT. I was so excited when they finally arrived that I quickly stripped down the loveseat and put the new Ikea covers on only to realize they were too big and baggy on the cushions and too tight across the arms. Huge bummer. I guess for some they luck out and the slipcovers magically fit but in my experience they did not. I sadly had to return them and figure out some other solution for making the dated covers a little livelier.

As you can see, they were sporting their original Pottery Barn blue slipcovers when we first got them, were a bit faded in a few spots where they got a lot of sunlight, and were quite squishy from years of love and use (they're soo comfy).



So my Plan B for bringing them back to life: dye! Since the Ikea slipcovers were going to be gray, I decided why not try my luck at attempting to dye the slipcovers gray. The first thing I had to do was remove all the slipcovers and wash them, letting them air dry so they didn't shrink. Then I bought 7 packs of iDye from Joanne's (online, since my closest store didn't carry it) in Silver Gray and got right to work. The website stated that each dye packet was good for 1-2 lbs of cloth so I figured since I had 10 cushion covers and 2 bases, if I did two covers per one packet of dye, I would need 5 packs for the cushions and 1 pack each for the bases. Seven total. Or so I thought.



The whole pack goes into the washer with a cup of salt and dissolves (I have a top loading washer). Let me tell you, this whole thing was incredibly nerve-wracking since I had no idea if things were going to turn out like I had hoped. It also took a long time. Each load of 2 cushions or 1 base took about an hour and a half of dyeing + washing time before being dried. The whole process took me two long evenings of about 4-5 hours each. The results?



I didn't get the exact gray I was hoping for or even close to it. The covers are definitely still in the blue family but I did manage to perk them up a bit. Instead of the brighter blue, almost denim-like color, we now have a nice gray-blue that works much better with my design tastes.




They're a little wrinkly still but at least the cushion covers are nice and perky again. All in all I'd say it was a good attempt. If I ever do it again, or if you ever plan to do something similar yourself, I'd say just use more dye. If I doubled the amount used for each piece I think I would have gotten somewhere much closer to my original intent. But hey, at least they're thoroughly clean!

The other area of the basement that's been getting a little lovin? The full bathroom. Walls and baseboards are painted, accessories are being added, and things are almost ready for a reveal. Almost. Here's a little sneak peek:


Friday, January 25, 2013

A Dolphin Named Sterling

I started to paint the downstairs bathroom- woohoo! The ceiling got a quick coat of BM's White Dove to cover up the contractor beige it was previously sporting, both on the walls and ceiling. Before I could paint the walls though I of course had to decide on a color. I knew I wanted to do something in the gray family, possibly in the blue-gray line, and it definitely had to be light since the room has no window. It also had to look good with my new West Elm hand towels.


To keep this makeover within budget, I started thinking about what paints I already had on hand and quickly realized I had two perfectly good contenders:



Behr Sterling (given to me by a friend) and Behr Dolphin Fin (left over from our old apartment's bathroom). After testing a bit of each I realized I liked qualities in both and wondered what they'd look like together. So I did something crazy. I mixed equal parts Sterling in with my half-empty can of Dolphin Fin and voila: the perfect color! I decided to call it A Dolphin Named Sterling.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Basement Stairs

I am slowly but surely transforming our basement from junk room catch-all to functional hang out space one step at a time. My most recent DIY actually involves the steps themselves, inspired by this photo from House Beautiful I tore out months and months ago and literally had "pinned" to our stairs with a push pin. (Just like in the olden days before Pinterest)


While we love the extra square footage and family room potential downstairs, getting down there can be slightly treacherous if you are particularly tall, seeing as our stair height is just a little low. Ever since we moved in we had this sign on the stairs from the previous owner that I never bothered to take down because, well, ya kinda need the warning.


I knew I had to come up with something cuter though so when I saw that picture in House Beautiful I knew that's what I wanted to do. I don't have any letter stencils and I didn't feel like spending money on one either so I stuck with the old fashioned pencil shading trick and it worked like a charm.

First I printed out my phrase and cut the words out individually. Then I shaded the back of each word with a pencil:


Then I taped the word to the stairs, pencil side down:


Then I went over each word, outlining each letter with a pen, until I could peel it off and reveal my stencil:


Then it was as easy as outlining each word with a Sharpie and filling everything in. It probably took me twenty minutes total and adds just a little fun when you open the door. Now going down there to do laundry is ever so slightly more enjoyable.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Impromptu Chalkboard

At Dan's annual Christmas party this past year he won a little gift in a drawing and brought it home for me. For a bunch of guys, I was kind of surprised that this was even in the gift exchange but hey, it could be worse. It was a 3-piece flameless LED candle set that came with a little tray and river rocks to scatter around.


At first I didn't know what we'd do with it-- regift? donate? use the candles and throw out the rest? The problem was I did like the candles, I mean who can't use a few flameless candles? The river rocks and the tray though? Not exactly my style. Then it hit me.


The back of the tray reminded me a lot of the texture of our little round kitchen chalkboard so I picked up a piece of chalk and wrote on it, and sure enough it worked!


Around Christmastime we kept it up above our coat closet and I had Dan free-hand a little Merry:



But now that the Season's over, I needed a new phrase. I took my turn with the chalk and wrote the first thing that came to mind: Jehovah Jireh. See, we used to have that stenciled above our kitchen doorway in our first apartment when we were two crazy kids in love as a constant reminder that the Lord provides, or rather The Lord Our Provider. So it is only fitting now as we enter this new phase of our lives to constantly remind ourselves of just that: He did back then and He will now.


Whether it be our financial, emotional, or physical: Our God Provides. 
We need only to trust and obey.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Our Kitchen: Before & After

It's about time, right?! I know, I know. This February will be a year since we finished up our kitchen hardware, one of the final elements in declaring our kitchen "done." But thanks to an unfinished window, a pass-through that didn't get its granite ledge for months, and my own lack of motivation to finish up the little details, I could never officially say the renovation was complete. Seeing as 2013 is gonna be a big and busy year for us I finally kicked my butt into gear, finished up the window, the pass-through, and even painted the walls so now I can give you a true Before and After tour!

Let's go back, waaay back to the summer of 2011 when we first moved in. We knew right off the bat that the kitchen needed to be completely gutted and redone and I was excited to do so. It was cramped and dingy with tons of wasted space so it needed to be rearranged and re-worked in order to make it a kitchen we loved to be in.


In pictures you cannot fully understand how bad the cabinets were. They were old, painted, and sticky with tons of wasted space in the corners. I didn't even want to put food in them because they grossed me out. Plus, the faucet had been leaking for who knows how long and the cabinet under the sink was moldy so every time you were at the sink to wash dishes (since there was no dishwasher) you had to endure the musty smell of mildew. Yum.


In this shot you can get a sense of how tight the space was with the fridge in the most awkward position. If someone was at the sink or stove, it was nearly impossible for someone else to get to the fridge.


There's the pass-through in the corner that we decided to keep. 
The kitchen was just full of un-usable and wasted counter space thanks to all the awkward corners.


The other side of the kitchen was the biggest waste of space of all.

Since our house is a cape cod, the original floor plan is two bedrooms on the main floor, no dining room, and an eat-in kitchen, hence the wall of nothingness. But since the previous owners before us knocked down a wall in the living room, removing a bedroom and making a dining room, we didn't need the space in the kitchen for a table and chairs. What we needed was more cabinet and counter space!


The first order of business was to remove the sea of tile.
Then came demo (which we did ourselves), taking our kitchen from blank slate to insanity in one fell swoop.







We had to live like this for what seemed like an eternity.


We hired out for the actual installation of the cabinets as well as the addition of extra outlets above the counters and the moving of our gas line from one wall to the other. Then that glorious day came when our walls were all newly sheet-rocked and painted and the floors were laid. The heavens parted and the angels sang. It was starting to look like a room again and we were in the home stretch!


Doesn't the room look tiny when it's empty? And there's the pass-through again on the left.

Slowly but surely the cabinets were installed, our counter tops were in place (after they brought the wrong ones first), hardware was drilled, and appliances hooked up. Oh baby, it's a kitchen!




Like I said though, we lived with this limbo-state for waaay too long, again thanks to a faucet that needed replacing a few months ago, the window that needed to be trimmed and painted and the pass-through that also needed to be painted. After all those were done the itch took over to paint the room yet again so after painting over the blue ceiling white and going dark on the walls, here we are today:




And because everyone loves a good side-by-side here ya go, start to finish:




And in case you're interested, here are a few details and sources:

Wall color: Benjamin Moore Gettysburg Gray
Ceiling color: Benjamin Moore White Dove
  • Cabinets: white shaker style from Shrock
  • Countertops: Santa Cecilia Light granite
  • Floors: Praline Birch from Lumber Liquidators
  • Extra Deep Sink: Purchased with our cabinets from a distributor
  • Faucet: Moen Lindley, Home Depot
  • Stove + Dishwasher: Craigslist (GE)
  • Microwave: appliance outlet store (GE)
  • Refrigerator: previous owners (Frigidaire)
  • Ceiling Fixure: previous owners (we hope to add recessed lighting one day)
  • Pendant above Sink: Home Depot
  • Rug: West Elm
  • Stool: my mom
  • Plate Rack: Marshalls
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