21 December 2011

Making a sweater stocking

It was time for new stockings! The ones we've been using don't match, plus one of them is red and green and I'm not so big on decorating for Christmas with those predictable colors. :)

So, you know me, there's no way I'm going to the store to buy new stockings. Not when I can make them for super cheap! Here's the lowdown:

I found this vintage sweater at the thrift store with this amazing pearl collar. It even has a label that says "The Denver" (where we live). I've never made a stocking before, but I have made pillows out of sweaters before, so how hard could it be?

I traced the outline of one of our old stockings onto the sweater turned inside out, making sure to position it so that the collar is at the top.

I also made a liner out of some scrap material, again using the old stocking as a guide.

I had to cut off a bit of the top of the liner so it wouldn't show on the finished product. I didn't really know what I was doing with this liner, so it looks a little funky. I pinned it onto the sweater, both inside out, and just sewed around the outline.

The first cut of the sweater:

Almost done:


Finishing touches: I cut some of the finished seam off of the extra sweater pieces to make a loop. Just hand sewed that on. Then I turned the stocking right side out and hung it on the mantel. Success! I love how the label is part of the design!

The next day I made on for my man out of a more man-ish sweater. It's still a woman's sweater, but has a nice chunky cable knit and no beads. :) I used the same technique but didn't put in a liner and I used the waist band of the sweater as the top of the stocking.

Looks like I need to vacuum up those fabric scraps!!
Pay no attention to my hand. I couldn't get the stocking to hang the right way for the photo.
Now we both have stockings that fit our style and our home's decor. If I decide so in the future, I can add decorative doo-da's, but for now, I'm happy. Now let's fill them with stuff!

16 December 2011

The great rental mantel slip cover

There are certain pros and cons to living in a rental. No yard work. That's a pro. Someone else pays for stuff to get fixed. Another pro. Dated 80's architecture. That is most definitely a con. Case in point, this lovely fireplace:


Now don't get me wrong - we love having a fireplace. A wood burning one, too. It's the placement (right by the front door), the tile (mottled brown & black), the diagonal wood surround, and that miniscule little rounded corner excuse for a mantel. Even our key bowl hangs over the edge a bit.

So I got an idea in my head that my dad could build a slip cover for this thing that could be removed when we leave. You know how much I love the idea of a slipcover!

I emailed my dad a picture of the mantel then a photoshopped version of what I wanted. He likes a good problem to solve. He was a math teacher. :)

He had some barn wood laying around so he brought it with him when he and my mom came to bring a bunch of our stuff from storage (THANK YOU!!!).

I should have taken during shots, but I didn't. My mom and I went thrifting. Anywhoo, the barn wood he brought was WAY better than I had expected. He let me choose between the weathered grey side or the weathered white painted side. WHITE PAINT. It is a super nice contrast with the stained wood surround. And here's the finished product:

Isn't that SO much better? And it's removable! Now I can experiment with styling the thing. It's deeper, so more stuff fits on. He made it thick enough so that it just hits the top of the light switch by the door.

I LOVE the weathered paint. This is the real stuff, no faux here.


And after:

Much better! Oh, and pay no attention to the crap stuff reflected in the mirror. I'm still working on that area. And I plan to paint the mirror frame the same color I painted the bathroom vanity in our Nebraska house.

More on that pearl embellished sweater stocking to come...

Today I'm participating in this excellent party:

Furniture Feature Fridays

08 November 2011

I got the headboard I wanted without forking over lots of $$.

This is the headboard (and base) I wanted:

This is what I had to work with:

It was labeled "room divider" at the local thrift. They were using it as a display for random doo-dads. The burlap-ish covered part is some sort of really hard foam or something that you can stick pins into. This piece was in a back room sitting under a roof leak. It smelled a wee bit musty.

So here's the deal. I really didn't want to spend buco bucks on the Pottery Barn version. I measured the room divider and found that it was EXACTLY the right size for a queen size bed. And I had a coupon for one purchase at the thrift store. How cheap am I??? I bought it for $12. Other materials for the project: a curtain, also from a thrift store, that I paid $10 for. I was not happy about that - I thought it was too much, but I had already talked them down from $12 since there was only one curtain. I didn't mention that I only needed one. :) Also, I used an old egg-crate twin mattress pad and an old blanket for padding. The paint I already had on hand. Tools: something to pry off the inside quarter-round, staple gun and hammer. Oh, I also bought a waterbed base on craigslist for $10 and painted it the same white. Wish I would have taken "during" pics, but you're all out of luck. 

And here's the finished product:

I'm pretty happy with the results. I hope to someday (soon) replace the base with this plan from Ana White. The waterbed base is one of the cheapest, most poorly made piece of furniture I have ever owned. I'm looking forward to replacing it with something more permanent and sturdy! But as long as we don't move the current base, it works. :)

These photos are all from our house in Nebraska. More in the future on fixing up the larger of two master bedroom at the townhouse in Colorado!

04 November 2011

New (to me) home, new place to reinvent!

I'm back. I've been in a funk lately. No motivation to blog, or read blogs even. But now I'm back. For six months we lived in a one bedroom, one bath apartment. All our cool stuff was in storage, and since we were there temporarily, I had NO desire to decorate. But now we're in a new place. New to us. It's a townhouse, which is one step closer an apartment to a house. We were planning on buying a house here in Denver, but we didn't sell our house in Nebraska (renting it out) so no cash for down payment. I expect we'll be renting for at least a couple of years. Which is just fine with me, because we are really done with moving for a while. Moving from Nebraska to this townhouse took a four part effort, spread out over 8 months. See why we're done? My parents are probably done, too. They helped with every part. I owe them a kidney or something. But back to the townhouse: it's two bedroom and two bath with a fireplace, upstairs laundry and a half-covered fenced in back patio. Oh, and a two car garage! It has more square footage than our house in Nebraska.

SO...here's the new place. These photos are from the online listing, so they're pretty poor quality. Consider them the "before".

the front door - looks very mountain-ish!
living room and front door
kitchen - the biggest we've ever had
bedroom with amazing windows
I have ideas! And now that we have all of our stuff, I can get to work.  Here are the parameters: We are allowed to paint the kitchen cabinets (I'll match the white that's already on them), but we are NOT allowed to paint the walls. The carpet and counter tops are new, but pretty much everything else looks like it's original to the 1980s when this place was built.

Game on!

24 June 2011

How do you make a boring apartment kitchen not boring?

First, yesterday was my mom's birthday. We will be celebrating sometime next week when she & my dad come to Colorado! Yay! I've missed you both! Happy birthday, Mom!

Ok. This is our kitchen.


Well, not literally our kitchen. I got this photo off of our apartment complex's website. I Photoshopped out some of the unnecessary frou frou that some "stylist" put on the counters for staging. I've got my own frou frou (my wooden kitchen angel I bought in Kenya, the "VINO" sign that sits next to her on the back of the stove), but my kitchen isn't camera ready right now. Just know that this is pretty much what it looks like. It's not the worst kitchen in the world, as apartment kitchens go. It's not a tiny galley kitchen. It's not closed off from the rest of the apartment. It's not hideous colors. So no complaints there.

If this were my very own kitchen to do with as I please, I would paint the walls, paint the cabinets, replace the counters, replace the floors... But this is not my very own. And I'm not allowed to paint. At all. And as it turns out, we will not be selling our house in Nebraska that we've had on the market for a few months. We will be renting it, which means that we will continue renting an apartment here in Colorado until we can save a hefty down payment for a house. Thus the very average kitchen. And I don't think I'm average, when it comes to my home. For some reason, I always have to do something different.

So here is the challenge: make this space not boring in a way that is in no way permanent. My solution?

Contact paper.

Yes, contact paper. But not the orange & yellow & avocado floral variety from the 70s. Not the typical "wood grain" variety, either. Have you heard that they're making the stuff in Chalkboard?? Chalkboard on a roll, with a sticky back! It comes 18 inches wide and 6 feet long. As long as it doesn't damage the walls (I've been researching in blogtown), I'm going for it.

But wait...did I forget to mention the stainless steel look contact paper? They make that, too! Oh, the possibilities. Both of them you can get all over. For sure on Amazon. I saw the stainless steel stuff at Home Depot today.

I've been kinda inspired by this post from apartmenttherapy.com about fridge modifications.
I took the liberty of mocking up several combinations of chalkboard/stainless steel looks in this kitchen. 

original - no modifications

Chalkboard back splash ( added at utensil rail over the range. Can I do that??)
Chalkboard back splash and cabinets
Stainless steel back splash and chalkboard cabinets
Stainless steel back splash and chalkboard fridge
Stainless steel and chalkboard back splash and chalkboard cabinets
Stainless steel and chalkboard back splash and chalkboard fridge
Too much chalkboard!
Thought I'd try another style of contact paper...

You know, I wouldn't necessarily have to attach the contact paper directly to the wall. I could use luan plywood or some other light-weight surface. Maybe I could attach that with sticky tack. Is that tacky? ??

Or I could use these wall panels from Ikea. They are supposed to go up with a rail system. Not sure if that would work in this kitchen, but I'll see - when Colorado's very first Ikea opens in July! I'm a little giddy about it.

What do you think? Which one do you like best? Or should I scrap the idea all together? What are your ideas for non-permanent changes??

11 June 2011

Back to España

Plaza Cervantes, Alcala de Henares
 No, we're not moving back to Spain. But I did get a chance to go back for 2 1/2 weeks. I went to teach a Photoshop workshop with the ministry we used to work with when we lived there before. It was like old times! I started this blog when we lived in Spain (from 2007-2009). You can go back to the beginning in the blog archives and read about it if you have a hankering. Good times.

Although I was there for "work", I arrived a few days early so I could hang out with my good friend, Loida, and her family in Zaragoza (half way between Madrid & Barcelona). It was SO good to see them all again. It made me realize how much of my Spanish I have forgotten, not that I knew a whole lot to begin with. But Loida had mercy on me and spoke English or VERY slow, basic and enunciated Spanish. Thanks, Loida! :)

Loida and her Spanish horchata (which is VERY different from Mexican horchata).
Her sister, Eli and her brother, Javi, also speak English very well, so I wasn't completely in the dark. But when Grandma or their parents spoke to me in fast Spanish, I did a lot of smiling and nodding.

Loida, her cousin Olga, and her grandma.
Eli in her purple room.
Such a great family.

I had missed so many things about Spain. Of course I missed our friends. But to be shallow, I REALLY missed the coffee.

My first Spanish coffee on my trip back to Spain - one of MANY.
Loida also took me to an incredible gelato place. We can get gelato in Denver, but really, does it compare to actual European made gelato??

All natural gelato place in Zaragoza.
Really??? How am I supposed to choose??
But I did choose. "Pistacchio Sublime" and Amaretto.
Loida during.
Seriously, this place was over the top cool. The gelato was super delicious and the decor was something I wouldn't mind adapting for my own kitchen some day. Lots of natural wood and black accents. I probably wouldn't wear the cute puffy black chef hats the gals working there had on, but maybe...

We walked back home that evening, so that we could work off a little of that gelato. I snapped this photo of the amazing cathedral of Zaragoza while standing on the bridge the spans the Ebro River. So beautiful.

I left the next morning to go back to Alcala de Henares to start the "work" I came to Spain to do (it just doesn't seem like real work!). More about the rest of my trip later...

Hope you enjoyed!