19 January 2012

That nasty 80's dresser is now an awesome media console!

I looked for MONTHS for just the right piece of furniture to put our tv on. In the past, we used an armoire that we loved a lot (and that I was really proud of getting at a garage sale for only $40) that was a perfect fit for our thick old non-flat tv. But before we moved to Colorado, we gave away the tv knowing we would bite the bullet and buy our very first flat screen.

So bye bye armoire. You were too bulky for our sleek new tv. And you wouldn't fit in the moving trailer. Hello temporary small cabinet. When we moved, we went through a 7 month period of temporary living in a VERY small apartment. I didn't decorate, I didn't look for any new pieces. So when we moved into our current townhouse, I knew the first piece I wanted to find was a large, long 'something' to put the tv on, that had storage underneath.

I found many pieces that would work. Ikea has some nice things. So does Pottery Barn. But if you know me, you know that there's no way I'm spending money on something new when I could find something second hand that I can make perfect!

Enter the 1980s. This dresser was found at my local Goodwill. When I first saw it, I wasn't convinced that it was what I wanted. Plus, it wasn't on sale. Seriously. How cheap am I that I won't buy something from a thrift store if it isn't on sale. It's sad, really. Anywhoo, the next time I went back to the store, it was half off. I stood back and imagined it with a few tweaks and realized it was perfect! So for $15 (yes, $30 was too much to pay), I took it home. Let me tell you, this chunk of wood is HEAVY. I injured my neck trying to lift just one side of it. It was a job for strong men.

When looking for a piece that you know you can paint and do minor alterations on, don't get distracted by the lipstick and eyeshadow. Meaning, surfaces can be changed. You can strip it. You can paint it. The important thing is if the piece is the right size, shape, style, and if it is well made.

Here's what I liked about the piece:
1. It was exactly the right size.
2. It had interesting hardware.
3. It came with two mirrors that I could use elsewhere.
4. It was sturdy and well made.
5. It was a straight, clean-lined style.
6. It had really good storage.
7. It was dirt cheap.

I decided to jump on the chalk paint bandwagon that I have read so much about in blogland. Of course, I made my own. Cheap, remember? I used this recipe, and it seemed to work just fine. I did fill in chips and lightly sand every part that was getting painted, but I did not prime, and I used wax instead of a poly coat. I have to say that I really like the feel of the finish and I will probably never do a poly coat again (unless it's kitchen cabinets).

The paint color is Benjamin Moore's Coventry Grey. I read somewhere that was the color closest to A.S. Paris Grey.

The top three drawers came out, and I painted the inside a mossy green that I already had. Maybe someday I'll repaint that part with peacock blue or something intense. Someday. I'm just happy that this piece is finished and in place. Oh, and one of the mirrors is hanging over our mantel, horizontally.

The gallery wall behind the tv isn't finished (and after looking at this photo, apparently I don't know how to level), but still, it's much better than nothing on the wall. The tv blends in really well. I'd love to paint that wall a dark grey, but we're not allowed to paint in this place.

I have since swapped out the end unit of our sectional for an armless version,
so there is an unobstructed view of the console.
After almost a year of packing, moving, temporary living, moving again, and now settling in, it's nice to have our place looking more like a real adult house.

Now I need to turn my attention to the decidedly un-adult looking wasteland around my desk. I'll get there. Eventually!

Today I'm partying with Miss Mustard Seed and The Shabby Nest. Head on over to both of these fantastic blogs to see what creative things others are doing!

03 January 2012

I want this house. But I can't have it.

For Sale: fairy tale cottage with mountain views

I want this house. It's listed for sale in Denver. The listing says that it was built by P.T. Barnum and he lived in it after his mansion burned to the ground. The actual provenance is a mystery, but I don't care. I still want it. I wish I could take a tour and get better pictures (these are from the listing), but a sale is pending. Bummer.
legend says that this house started out life as a barn.
Living room. The ceilings are low because the second floor was the hayloft (legend again). Love the coffers.
The entry way is visible on the other side of the fireplace.
What's that room off of the living room?
It's an amazing sun room! Until recently this room sported an original Tiffany stained glass window, sold for $25k. I'll have some of that coffee, thanks.
Stained glass on the ceiling and intricate plaster work.
I have a round table ready to live in this room. It would go perfectly.
Ah, the kitchen. Look past the floors, wallpaper and yellow counter tops. What you should look at is the dutch door. I've always wanted one!
It also comes with a funny little corner sink.
And a fancy range hood!
I wish the sink was under the window, but you can't have everything.
It just gets better. A breakfast nook? Sweet. And you can't read it in this photo, but the label over that doorway says "SCULLERY". Seriously?
The "scullery" must be where all the dishes are washed and kept. This room would actually make a great laundry room with under counter washer & dryer.
The doors!! Now let's go upstairs...
Master bedroom. Love the iron stretchers on the ceiling.
It has an inglenook with a fireplace! And the little random doors are supposedly remnants of the hayloft.
I would most likely paint something other than pink. :)
The second bedroom, a little nook that would be perfect for a kid. There are two other bedrooms - on on the main floor and one in the basement. Speaking of the basement....
The basement! The built-ins and hardware in this house are amazing.
Main living area of the walk-out basement. See the square piano by the windows? I wonder if that comes with the house?
I don't understand what's going on here. Are these two fireplaces?
This door (fairy tale cottage door!!) goes outside to the back patio.
Brick covered patio. I could hang out here. couldn't you? With some vintage patio furniture and plants in the planters?
And last of all, a bevy of out-buildings! One is a playhouse, I think one is a chicken coop, and the larger one in the back is the garage, but I think there's a little living area attached to the garage. Guest cottage? Art studio?

Can you see why I want this house? It's so DIFFERENT. And different in a good way. You can't buy character like that new now. The house is 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, over 2,300 square feet. Too bad we 1. Recently signed a 1 year lease, 2. Didn't see this listing before a sale was pending, and more importantly, 3. Don't have the $$ to buy it. Oh, well. It's fun to look!!

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