Monday, April 30, 2012

Dry vs. Cured: Lesson Learned!

Yup, I learned the hard way.  For those of you that have not ventured too far beyond your walls when it comes to paint, you may or may not have heard that you should allow paint to dry and cure.  It's the latter that I have trouble with because...well, I'm just impatient.  The excitement of seeing an old piece given new life through a fresh coat of paint sometimes gets the better of me and I don't wait long enough for the newly finished piece to cure. 

So what's the difference?  Basically, paint may be dry to the touch after a few hours, but it takes much longer for paint to actually cure (completely dry to where it has a fully adhered to the surface, acheived its maximum strength and  hardened).  If you move in a piece of painted furniture once it's dry but not yet cured, it's much easier for your newly finished piece to scratch, chip, peel, stain or otherwise get damaged.  Ever had that happen?  Me too.  In fact, just this week...

I was so excited to give my birdcage find a fresh new color for my daughters room!  I had a can of a light lime green spray paint and got right to work. 

I started by opening the lid and propped it open by resting it on the top ring.  I gave the cage three thin coats of green paint, waiting an hour in between coats.  Then I let it dry overnight.

The next day I put a piece of packing paper in between the the lid and base to prevent the wet paint from sticking the two together, and I painted those areas that were missed on the lid when it was upside down.

Then I just needed to wait for it to dry.

Again, I waited about 24 hours and then took out the paper between the lid and base.  I knew it probably needed a couple of days to cure based on what I planned to do with it, so I left it in the garage.  I checked it the next day and sure enough when I lifted the lid, paint peeled off in a few spots where the lid rests on the base.  It had dried but not cured. Grrr.

I lightly sanded those patches and gave them another coat of paint with the lid propped open.  That was Friday.  This time I'm waiting until tomorrow to close the lid and bring it in. :)

If you look up guidelines on how long to wait for paint to cure, you'll see a wide spectrum.  Usually 3-4 days is enough...when in doubt, follow the guidelines on the can or ask someone at the paint counter...and if you want to be extra sure, just add on a couple of days to your drying time. 

So, the next time you get ready to paint, take a minute to put on your patience pants before you get started.  It's well worth waiting for your new paint job to actually cure and not have to redo all your hard work!

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Friday, April 27, 2012

The Sweetness of Little Girls

I have to tell you that decorating my daughter's room has been as fun for me and it has been for her.  It's the one room in the home that can be completely feminine, whimsical and sweet with no bounds!  Maybe that's why I like it so much.....if I need to be surrounded by a happy, girly place, I visit Mia's room.

However, sometimes it's hard to see the room's sweet girliness.  I'm truly embarrassed over what I am about to show you, but it's our reality:  the result of 3 kids playing to their heart's content and not cleaning up after themselves.  This is how I found Mia's room this morning...

Yeah, it's a problem.  Due in part to a lack of organization and proper storage solutions, but partly due to an overwhelmed resident (with "get into everything" little brothers) and a mom that doesn't always hold said resident accountable for keeping her space tidy.  You can read more on how we are addressing that over at our family blog.

Regardless of how we got here, this sweet room absolutely needs some love and attention!  All the special touches are lost among the chaos (not to mention the ones we haven't even brought in yet!), and Mia deserves a better system to help her take care of her own personal haven. 

So, this is our project for the weekend!  I actually started this morning and we are currently knee-deep in piles...yes, more piles than you see here.  I figured since everything was out, there was no point in putting it all back if a major clean out was in order.

Sometimes getting to organized and orderly means creating an even bigger mess by taking everything out first.  It allows you to take inventory of what you actually have (which is often a lot more than we think), purge those items that you no longer use or don't need, and in this case, pare down what we have to a reasonable and manageable amount for a little girl.  It's all worth it in the end!

And here's part of the motivation...remember this guy?

He was my happy clearance find at Hobby Lobby for Mia's room.  I gave him a fresh coat of paint and he's now drying in the garage!  Although this could be totally cute as a stand alone decorative item, I also wanted it to serve a function.  Once I decided on how to use it, I wanted to give the paint ample time to dry and cure.  We'll use the extra time to make sure he has a nice clean spot in Mia's room once he's dry.

Here's a rundown of the plan:

-Closet:  paint walls, sew/hang curtains, label bins, donate excess clothes and toys
-Wall to the left of the closet:  go through toys and donate half, move bins to another area of the house, & move Mia's current nightstand (much smaller) to this wall.
-Vanity:  clear off, organize drawers, have fun with accessories
-Bookcase wall:  better storage, hang shelves and photo board
-Bed area: find small table for nightstand, treatment for lamp/shade that will go next to the bed, and cover the box spring

I realize we probably aren't going to make it through half of the list this weekend, but we are going to make a push for as much as we can!  It's long overdue!
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Verdict on the Office!

After tossing around ideas for our office/guest room space I finally settled on a color scheme....we're going navy, green, pink and white!

There's just something classic.....


...and even a little fun, about these colors.

This is going to be a "his and hers" office space, so I needed a color palette that wouldn't make the Mr. run for the hills.  The classic navy appeals to his traditional taste and the navy and green combo is an ode to his Irish alma mater. 

The pink is a pop of happy for me....I'll keep it away from his desk :) 

I was about 99% sure about going with these colors until my trip to Target this afternoon where I snagged these:

Perfection!  I was on the hunt for lime green and navy binders, bins and storage for the hubs' desk when I spotted these colorful patterns in the perfect color combo for the room! 

This guy is my favorite..

They'll find a home at my workspace since they sport that girly pink, but finding something that could go right into the space as-is sealed the deal for me on the color choices.  I love the playful prints and they are totally inspiring me to jump on this space! 

And not a moment too soon - prep for football season is gearing up and each year of coaching brings more resources, film, playbooks, rosters, etc.  It's time to give the coach a workspace to start of the season right! 

So, as we wrap up a list of projects in the living room for April, we'll shift our focus to this office/craft/guest room for May.  I have just a few more projects to share from the living room before that though, some more successful than others! 

How about you?  Any unexpectedly perfect finds lately?
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Monday, April 23, 2012

A Lucky Weekend Find

Happy Monday!  Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!  It wasn't a super productive one on our least not in the home improvement realm.  However, I did stumble upon a happy find on sale at Hobby Lobby. 

I've been keeping my eye out for a bird cage for my daughter's room.  She has both birds and butterflies in her room decor and in thinking about how to dress her vanity, I kept coming back to a birdcage. 

I know it's a hot item in the world of accessories so they aren't hard to find but I just hadn't found the right one at the right price yet. 

Then I found this...

It's the perfect height/size and I loved the little bird on top.  I also love the it has a clasp so it can actually serve as a holder for some uber-girly things.  Did I mention it was on clearance? 

My daughter's furniture is a Swiss Coffee white but the birdcage looked a little dingy on top of the white I have colorful plans for her!   I also have an idea of how she'll be used but we'll see how it comes together.  I'll share the results later this week.

How about you....any lucky finds over the weekend?

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

How To: Pottery Barn Knock-off Drapes!

If you missed the post earlier this week, you can see my DIY curtain project here.   I have been drooling over these way-out-of-my-price-range Pottery Barn Drapes for ages and decided to take a crack at making my own for a fraction of the price. 

It was so worth the effort and in the big scheme of things, a fairly easy project.

The key to pulling off an effective knock-off in this case was really in the fabric choice.  I was lucky enough to find a pattern that was close in color, pattern and overall vibe...and at a much cheaper price thanks to a great sale! 

(Fabric is Meadowview Spice by Robert Allen)

I wanted to mimic the inspiration photo by using clip rings to hang the curtains, which meant that I could go a totally lazy simple route with the sewing.  I didn't need to worry about a pocket for the curtain rod or small pieces turned loops for the rod.  Just a simple rectangular panel.

I made it less simple by deciding to line them.  In the end I'm glad I did, but that part caused me a few hiccups. 

Let me start by saying that I am a total novice when it comes to sewing...I'm the one who really should be researching tutorials like this before I start, not writing them.  But since I have this here blog, I'll share with you what I did and hopefully you can learn from a few of my mistakes!

Here we go...

*It's always a good idea to prewash your fabric if you ever intend to wash the finished product. 

The curtain fabric:
I started with 6 yards of this fabric (I planned to use the extra for a couple pillows).  It came 54.5" wide so I left the width alone and just measured the length I would need for each panel.  I got this number by putting the clip rings I would be using on the curtain rod and measured from where the top of the panel would be in the clip, down to the floor.  I then added 2 inches for seam allowance on top and I knew I wanted a nice fat hem on the bottom, so I gave myself an extra 5 inches for the bottom hem.

So length of finished curtain + 7 inches for hems = length of fabric needed for each panel

Then I ironed.
(I did all of my sewing for this at night so the lighting in these pictures is not so great)

The lining:
I looked at how the lining of my current drapes were attached and noticed the bottom hem was about 2 inches shorter than the bottom edge of the drape.  So I measured the same length as the main fabric and subtracted 2 inches for the lining fabric panel. 

The width for this will be different than the curtain fabric. At first I was trying to measure how much the curtain fabric wrapped around the sides of the lining on my current drapes and did some crazy folding and pinning but then my friend suggested a method that allows you to sew the two raw edges together without all the folding and pinning. 

I simply cut the lining panel 4 inches narrower than the curtain panel.  I lined it up over the curtain fabric and cut a 4 inch strip off one of the long sides.

I ironed the lining panel as well and then folded over the bottom edge 1 inch and ironed it flat.  If I can iron an edge before sewing instead of using pins, I always do.  Lazy, I know.  Then I sewed that edge with the sewing machine.

After hemming the bottom edge of the lining panel, lay the curtain panel with pattern side up and place the lining panel on top so that the side with the raw edges of your hem is facing up.  The top edges are flush.

Raw edge of the lining is facing up

Then slide the lining panel all the way to one side so that the top edges are lined up and as well as the sides.

Pin the corner first...

Then begin working your way down pinning the lining to the curtain fabric every 6 inches or so.  Take her to your machine and sew together (leaving a 1/2 inch seam allowance) from top to bottom....actually that's Lesson #1: don't sew quite all the way down to the end of the lining.  Sew from the top of the panel down to just above the raw edge of the bottom hem.  You'll see why later.

When you are finished you should be able to see 4 inches of the curtain fabric extending beyond the lining on the opposite side.

Next, pick up the loose side of your lining fabric (opposite of the side you just sewed) and line up that side even with the opposite end of the curtain fabric.  The curtain fabric is wider than the lining so it will be a bit bunched up underneath the lining (not flat) but it doesn't matter. 

Just line up the top and side edges so they are straight and flushed.  Pin this side just as you did the first and sew together leaving a 1/2 inch seam allowance from the top of the panel down to the same point: just above the top of the raw edge of the bottom hem of the lining fabric.

Here's where you start to see it take shape....once both sides are attached, flip it inside out like you are flipping a pillow case inside out (except both ends are open here).  The pattern side of your curtain panel will be out and your lining panel will have a nice clean seam at the bottom because the raw edge of the hem  is now on the inside.  Once you've flipped it inside out, move the fabric around until equal amounts of the curtain fabric are visible on the sides of the lining panel when the lining is facing up.  I ended up with about 1 1/2 inches on either side.

Once you have the lining centered with an equal amount of curtain fabric showing on each side, iron the whole thing, firmly pressing out the sides.  I took my panel over to the sewing machine after this and sewed about a 1/2 inch from where the lining and curtain fabric met, securing the pieces in place.  Similar to Lesson #1, sew from the top down to about 2 inches above the bottom edge of the lining panel. Then I did the same for the other side.

This left me with a 1 inch seam from the edge of the curtain panel on the front

I folded the top edge (of both the curtain and lining) over 1 inch, and sewed that as well.  Sorry I didn't grab a pic of this!

Here's where Lesson #2 comes attention to where the clips and top of the curtain will hang when you first measure and BEFORE cutting anything.  When I first held up the fabric I didn't notice that the larger clip rings would cause the top of the fabric to hang below the wood framing the window.  Not a good look.  We ended up raising the bar about 3 inches.  Fortunately, I had this vision of a nice wide 3-4 inch hem on the bottom of the curtains, so I had the extra fabric.  Unfortunately, I lost my wide bottom hem.  Oh well, much better than having to start from scratch!
Once the rod was in the right place for the top of the panel, I hung both panels with the bottom edge unfinished and then began folding the excess fabric under and pinning it to where I wanted the bottom edge to be. 

And here's why Lesson #1 is important.  I took the stitches too far down on the lining. 

So, instead of my raw curtain fabric edge tucking right under it, like this....

I had to fold it over and stitch it down on top of the lining hem, for a not so finished look (since I couldn't get that corner under the lining).  It's something I may go back and fix later.  It just requires ripping out a few seams, which I was too lazy tired to do at that point. 

So there you have it!  I will take better notes and pictures for next time, but I have to say it was a totally satisfying project, even with my "oops" moments.

Here's a look at the finished product the next day

I'm so happy with the fabric and the way it has changed the whole feel of the room.  It's much brighter and with the piece insipiring the color story for the space actually in the room, all of the other elements make sense.  It's beginning to feel like a unified and cohesive space.  And the satisfaction of actually making something yourself feels pretty good too.....just don't flip them over to look at my ugly seams ;)

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Special Place For A Special Piece

My children's great grandmother works with wheat.  I'm not talking about grinding it down and making bread from scratch with it......she twists and manipulates it into unbelievable creations.  She has made a cross from wheat for each of our children when they were born. 

She beautifully matted and framed this one for the boys:

The detail just blows my mind...

The cross she made for our daughter came with a mounting hook on the back.  We had it hanging near her bed but felt it needed a more prominent casing for such a special piece.  So here's what I started with....

-My daughter's beautiful cross
-A piece of scrapbook paper from my stash
-A small shadow box from Michael's

The detail on this cross is pretty amazing too..

First I took the back off the shadow box and cut out a piece of scrapbook paper to size.

The shadow box came with a sticky piece to attach whatever you are displaying, so I just used that to adhere the paper

I used a dab of hot glue at each corner of the cross to secure it to the paper and reassembled the box. Done!

It was a super easy little project that gave a much more appropriate home for such a special piece.

Now for where to put it...hhhmmmm
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pottery Barn Knock-Off Drapes!

I'm making a push to knock out some of our living room projects this month and at the top of the list was new drapes!  We had bright red satin curtains that were beautiful but just didn't work with the neutral scheme we were moving towards.  We also have a big green couch in the room, so with the red curtains it was looking a little....merry. 

Even though we wanted a calm, soothing and neutral space, we also wanted to bring in some color.   Thumbing through a Pottery Barn catalog, I spotted these babies and knew they were it! 

A colorful but subdued botanical print on a gorgeous cream backdrop - yes, please!  They had all the colors we wanted to bring into the space....but at $139.00 a pop (per panel!), they were beyond our budget.

So I went looking at Joann's and found this beauty:

This fabric by Robert Allen (Meadowview spice) was perfect!  I waited for a 50% off home dec fabric sale coupled with an additional 20% off veteran's discount, and 6 yards later, we were in business!

Months later I finally got around to sewing them and am kicking myself for waiting so long!  I couldn't be happier with the result...and for a fraction of the cost of my inspiration drapes!

I only have access to a couple of "before" pics (the rest are on my laptop that's in the shop), so I'll save most of the "before" pics for the whole room reveal.  In the meantime, here's a peak of the old drapes:

Christmas I tell ya!  We decided to turn this corner into a prayer/reading nook, so everything about it would change.  The jolly green giant of a chair has moved to the office.  It's super comfy, so we'll keep it and give it a new outfit.

We replaced it with this chair from our master....and with the new drapes, they are taking this room in a totally new direction.

I liked the look of the clip rings from the inspiration photo but I couldn't resist this chunkier version at Lowe's:

 Oh Yes..

The new drapes completely brighten up the room....
 And I love the fabric even more now that I see the finished product.

I was attempting to choose fabrics for other projects in this room, but I was doing it with the old drapes in place.  I knew this fabric was coming in but it was hard to envision how they would all play together with those bold red drapes demanding the spot light.  Now that the fabric inspiring the color palette is actually in the room, making those final choices on fabric and accessories to finish off the space has been so much easier...and a lot more fun!

Look for a tutorial on how I made the curtains later this week!

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