Wednesday, December 19, 2012

IKEA RAST HACK - Mod Podge Entryway Table

First of all, I need to admit that I usually don't trust my DIY ability. And we've already discussed my aversion to shopping at IKEA. So one plus the other meant when I set out to make our sofa table, I actually bought three Rast dressers in case I completely screwed something up in the process. I figured if all went well, I could just return the third box unopened. Or use the scrap wood for something else since I HATE returning things at IKEA.

Second of all, I apologize because this isn't a very photo-rich post. This was kind of a project that I did randomly over the course of a couple weeks here and there, and when I do that I never remember to take pictures!

Anyway - I've already posted about the sofa table and it's success - what I didn't write in that post, was that one of the dressers that I used was missing the front of a drawer. Good thing I had a spare dresser to steal from.  But what that left me with was an opened, and partially used third dresser that I couldn't return. So what to do? Another IKEA Hack - that's what!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

... And then I met Nora Roberts

I <3 Nora Roberts. Last weekend was my best friends birthday, and she requested a day spent in Boonsboro at a Nora Roberts book signing. Which is obviously Reason #423 that we're friends.

So we went. And I set an alarm on a Saturday morning and Metro'ed into DC in the early morning to wait in the freezing cold for my best friend to pick me up and take me to the middle-of-nowhere Maryland where we stood in the cold even longer to buy our books and then stood in line in the cold AGAIN to get them signed.

And then it was all worth it because I met Nora Roberts.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Doctoring It

I'm weirdly straight-laced, just ask my sister who has been picking on me because of it for... oh... 25 years. I blame my parents, though "blame" probably isn't the right term. And "thank" doesn't necessarily seem appropriate here either. Whatevs. I am who I am. Thanks to high school I learned to accept that early on. Ha!

ANYWAY this bit of evidence even had me shaking my head at myself afterward.

BACKGROUND: I had a routine check-up today with a new doctor.

EVIDENCE: Excerpt from conversation with my new doctor.

Doc: Do you smoke?
Me: No.
Doc: Do you drink?
Me: Occasionally. I have a glass of wine here and there.
Doc: Do you take drugs?
Me: Only when I have a headache or something. Then I usually take Tylenol or ibuprofen.
Doc: (after a half beat) I meant cocaine, meth, heroin... that sort of thing.
Me: (horrified) Oh! No! No. God no. Definitely not.
(insert nervous laugh)
Me: (5 seconds later while rubbing my sweaty palms on my paper gown) NO.

Oh. And here's a picture of a baby walrus to make your visit worthwhile.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

IKEA Rast Hack - Sofa Table Style

I can't get Gangnam Style out of my head (hence the post title) - and all I know is the chorus.

Oppa Gangnam Style.

What? It's catchy!

Anyway - back to my sofa table. I have a love/hate relationship with IKEA. I mean, I L.O.V.E. their stuff. We have IKEA bookshelves that we use as our entertainment center (seen here), Jason's dresser is IKEA, we have IKEA lamps in our living room, and we're planning a kitchen renovation using their kitchen planner and will probably use their cabinets!

...BUT - I hate going to IKEA. Maybe it's because I'm an introvert, or maybe it's because our IKEA is the one that all of DC heads to - but I hate it. I hate having to park a mile away, I hate having to search the parking lot for a cart since the ones inside are usually all taken, I hate that the wait to return something is usually around an hour, and I hate that the whole store is like a massive parking lot of people wandering around and leaving their carts strewn about and in the way of the flow of traffic... Whew. That felt good to get off my chest!

Moving on... my latest project was an IKEA hack. Have you heard of IKEA hacking? There is a whole website devoted to it ( Basically it involves taking a piece of IKEA furniture and personalizing it for your space. (UPDATE: This project totally got featured on the site too! See it here.)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Roses are Red...

...and so is my door!

What? I never claimed to be a poet.

Regardless of my poetry skills - the door is DONE! (And so is this post finally - thanks to Sandy/Frankenstorm giving the time to sit down and finish it!)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Red Door, Blue Door, Front Door, Screen Door

It's been mentioned in past posts (here and here) that I have major problems making a decision on paint colors. Let's call it paint paralysis. Well I'm suffering from it yet again. Thanks to Kat over at Maple Leaves & Sycamore Trees, I've got the front door painting bug. BUT, yet again, I'm struggling to pick a paint color. And instead of the normal problem of trying to decide between 8 different shades of green, this time I'm having trouble narrowing it down from... um... every color.

Mostly I blame the current problem on the previous owners and their paint choice. Truthfully I've always drooled over those pictures of cute cape cod houses with grey cedar shingle siding - and I got halfway there with our first house... kind of.  It's a cute little cape cod and it has grey-blue siding... let's stop there. 

That grey-blue siding is my current hold-up. I wish it were more grey. Or more blue. Or darker. Or... just something... more.  Instead it's caught between grey and blue and it's restricting the creative side of my brain from choosing a color for our completely bland front door. 

So - that's why I'm here. Begging for your opinion.  Please.Help.Me.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Maybe Bigger Really is Better...

... in the case of pictures.

So last weekend I finally gave into the fact that my cute arrangement of white picture frames above the buffet just weren't working.  You may remember from this post that the picture frames were actually just an assortment of random frames that I spray painted white and hung prior to getting the buffet.

Different sizes, different textures, and I couldn't even keep them straight long enough to take this picture.
They were... fine. Just... fine. However, slowly, the fact that they were never straight started to grate on me. The stairs are right behind that wall, and it seemed the the frames were never, ever, EVER straight - no matter how often I painstakingly straightened them. And yes - I know I could have used some sticky stuff to keep them straight, but I really just wasn't sold on the overall look anyway, so I didn't really feel like taking the time for that!  I also think I was still hating that the one anchoring spot on that wall continued to be that damn thermostat.

So. What to do?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Project: Backyard Beautification, Part 2

Whoa - I wrote most of this right after I finished Part 1, but other things got in the way (such as wedding and an unplanned trip to Canada and stuff...) so I'm just getting around to posting this! Pardon the tardiness - is it too soon to start blaming stuff on my husband?  :)


As soon as our new fence was finished, we stepped back to look at the completed product... and became newly aware of how awful the concrete thing in the backyard was. I call it a 'thing' because we actually don't know what it is... though we're pretty sure it's a war memorial. We were told that the previous owner (the one who loved paneling and hanging swords on fences) was a WWII vet - so we're guessing he built this structure as a memorial to all of his fallen comrades, which is honorable and awesome. And we appreciate the sacrifice of his fallen comrades as well as his service. BUT - we really didn't want a war memorial taking up a good chunk of our already pretty small backyard. Not only was it a space hog, but it was also just really OLD looking. The top of it was painted white at some point, but that was all chipping away and the brick mortar was starting to fall apart... so against the new fence, it really just looked awful.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Project: Backyard Beautification, Part 1

We got a new fence! Whoot! No more staring at our neighbors junk pile. No more worrying that the dog is going to jump the extremely low chain-link fence. No more accidentally busting through the rotted privacy fence.

Here are a couple before shots for your viewing pleasure:
Our teeny tiny chain-link fence. The top of Stella's head was even with the top of the fence. 
The chain link was short enough that I could step over it (I'm 5'5) - so that should tell you something. And it was short enough that Stella made a run for it once a few months after we moved in (though she hadn't made another escape attempt since - maybe the first one was traumatizing?).  And because it was so short, and she had made one escape back in October, we were both pretty paranoid about leaving her out there by herself for too long without checking to make sure she was still back there every 10 minutes. So not relaxing for us, and probably annoying to her since if she had it her way she'd chill there all day without our anxious faces pressing up against the windows every 10 minutes - or, sometimes,  if she happened to wedge herself along the house, running out into the back yard frantically to make sure the big gold mutt is still contained. Again - I think we found this more stress-inducing than she did.

Also - it doesn't show in this picture, but we didn't have a driveway gate.  That meant when we let Stella out the side door, she was temporarily free to take off on us when we walked her around to the back gate to let her into the backyard. She was actually pretty good about sticking right with us whenever we let her in or our - except the couple of times she wasn't... all of which involved J. Poor guy. Once as he was bringing her around from the back to bring her inside, a guy wheeled by on his bicycle with his German Shepard trotting beside him. Stella, of course, was gone like a lightning bolt and that poor guy almost face planted off his bike. Another time when J was bringing Stella around to the side door there was a woman walking her dog down the sidewalk - and Stella took off to smell her dog. That woman screamed bloody murder when she saw Stella coming at her. I can't blame her though - Stella's pretty big!

Anyway - that explains our need to replace the chain-link portion of the fence. Now - on to the privacy fence.
Note the junk pile to the left and the strange lanterns and sword attached to the privacy fence. 
I should have taken a closer picture of this white picket disaster before it got torn down.  What you can't really see in this picture is that 5 or 6 of the tops of the pickets are completely broken off. They were so rotted through that when we were trying to fix the fence after it fell down in Hurricane Irene (that's a whole other story!) we kept busting them off.  Then there is the separate matter of the 18" gap that ran along the bottom. And the fact that the previous owners thought they would add some random old lanterns (yes - electric, but they're not wired now) - AND those lanterns aren't even even. Seriously. Then - lastly, there is the neighbor's junk pile. We like our neighbors - just not their junk. It was a bit of an eyesore and we were excited to potentially hide it!

We thought about DIYing this project too... but after weighing the pros and cons (pros being price, cons being time, inexperience, and the fact I just didn't want to), we decided to hire this one out. The biggest plus to having someone else do it was it would be done in one day and they would haul the old fence away! BIG plus since we just have a little Saturn Ion for hauling stuff. AND if we had done this ourselves it probably would have taken us 4 weekends or something ridiculous like that - during which Stella couldn't chill outside like she loves, and we really couldn't sit out there and enjoy ourselves either with a partially done project.

So we called around for a couple of estimates, picked one, and scheduled the project date. On Monday, our scheduled project day, it was pouring when I left for work. We weren't sure whether they would able to work in the rain, but later on I got a text from J saying the workers were there and demoing the old fence! I asked him to take pictures of the progress... this is what I got:

I think he was impressed with Hercules over there who is lifting a huge hunk of concrete over his head. Seriously, I'm impressed too because I could only pry them up with a shovel.
We were quoted for a full one-day project, but that one day project ended up turning into 1.5 for two reasons.
1) The guys told us they had never seen anything like our chain link fence.  It was buried deeper than usual - including the chain link part itself. Then the posts were so deep that they decided to cut them off below ground level - but they kept eating the sawzall blades! One post took three blades to cut through!
2) We had baby robins in the rose bush and the rose bush had branches growing through the old fence. J asked them to be careful - and boy were they! It was so cute to see these two huge burly guys trying to gently push the new post into place without disrupting this nest with four baby robins in it.
It ended up that they stayed at the house working until 8:30 p.m. on Monday night and then showing up again at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. But ultimately, they declared it finished!

And... TA DA!

A more Stella-proof chain-link fence height that should give us more piece of mind.

The new cedar privacy fence. And, yes. It does smell like cedar... fantastic!
Oh - and here is a shot of the new driveway gate! I don't have a before shot. Just picture this same scene without the gate...  ;)
And - as always, the before-and-afters!

I should have had J stand next to the fence for the before shot too. But if you look at where the top of the fence hits the neighbors red fence or hits the siding on our house, you get a sense of how much higher it is.

Goodbye junk pile and rotten white picket fence! Hellllllllooooo red cedar and a little actual privacy!
Next up? We seriously need to demo that concrete thing in the middle of the yard. Oh - and build a patio. And a pergola. And. And. And. :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Project: Buffet Breakthrough

I've been really picky about choosing a buffet for our entryway. Like, really picky... as in - we've lived here for a year and I'm still searching Craigslist every day for a buffet - picky.  But, I am happy and relieved to announce - we finally have a winner!

First the backstory... There isn't really an entryway in our house. Instead, when you open the front door, you walk straight into the great, wide space that houses our living room and dining room. There isn't a closet (that is back in the hallway), and there isn't really a spot for shoes... so defining this space has been extremely challenging.

Once both rooms were painted and the archway was built last summer, I began struggling with what to do with the great expanse of wall that we stare at when we walk in.  At some point last summer, I decided I wanted to put a big buffet there - one with the long legs (I think the style is 'federal'?) so that we could still show off the hardwood floors.  So pretty much every day since then, I hunted Craigslist.  And hunted. And hunted. And hunted. I found a few that fit my vision - but then they didn't fit the measurement requirements, or, more commonly my budgetary restrictions!  So I kept hunting.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Project: Guest Room Revamp

My latest big project was brought on by the imminent arrival of three weekends of company, back-to-back.  Of course, the one room that we really hadn't touched since moving in happened to be the guest room.  So the weekend after I finished the big stair project, with two weekends before the arrival of our first weekend of company, I decided to tackle what used to be the master bedroom (when the old owners were here).  

You may be thinking, "I'm sure it was fine and your awesome family that was visiting wouldn't have minded a bit if you hadn't revamped it before they got there." (So maybe that isn't verbatim what you're thinking, but it's probably along those lines, right?) Anyway, let me tell you - it was not fine.  First off, it had been painted the same boring beige prior to it going on the market. No biggie, right? Boring colors aren't the end of the world (nothing against those of you who willingly choose beige as a paint color... ahem).  Second, this guy really, really liked paneling (more evidence here, and here) - you'll see in the pictures below that he managed to build even more window boxes made of paneling. THEN - not only are there window boxes made of paneling in the room, but the contractor who painted the room prior to us buying it, reinstalled the window boxes upside down! So now we have upside-down window boxes made of paneling. Le' sigh.  And, if that wasn't bad enough, we had the itty-bitty-teensy-weensy problem of the paint actively peeling itself off the wall.  Yes - without my help there were actually two spots that had peeled down to the original drywall.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Project: New Life for an Old Dining Room Table

When we bought this house, I was probably just as excited by the prospect of having a garage as I was about having a house.  And boy did we get a garage! The footprint of our garage is actually only one foot less wide than the house footprint - yet it's only a one-car garage, meaning a LOT of extra space available for hobbies!

Back story: A few years ago my dad and I saved an end table from a certain future in a landfill by plucking it out of our neighbors scraps after a garage sale.  It was in sorry shape. The veneer had peeled off part of the top and it was terribly water-stained due to sitting outside for who knows how long... but with some sanding and some wood glue and a lot of elbow grease and patience, we saved it - and now it sits prominently in our living room.

She's much to pretty for a landfill.
Ever since then I've had a nagging urge to refinish wood furniture - but I've never had the space to give it a shot (that's a partial lie - I've had the space, just not the ventilation or the 'ok' from roomies!), so when we bought the house and all of the sudden I had all this space in the garage, I decided that it was time for me to give it a shot on my own.  So, what did I start with? Something simple like another little end table or possibly a cute little jewelry box from the thrift store? NO WAY - I went big and bought a pretty sad looking table and chairs off of Craigslist.  :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cherry Blossoms

GAH! I am SO excited to post about the guest bedroom transformation!! But it has to wait another week until my parents come to visit since I've made it a surprise.  Until then, I'll post a 'progress' picture. Yikes.

On a non-home-improvement note, J's sister and kids were here last weekend for their first visit to DC! It actually ended up being perfect timing because the cherry blossoms bloomed a few weeks early this year due to the abnormally mild winter!  I had to share a couple of my favorite shots from the weekend!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Project: Stairway to...

I was going to title this post "Project: Stairway to Heaven Our Bedroom" but then I decided that was maybe a little weird.

ANYWAY - As I've mentioned before, one of the first projects that we took on after we bought this house was ripping out all of the carpet and redoing the floors.  Most of the time we were giddy with excitement at how beautiful the floors were underneath the carpet... until we got to the stairs.  As you can see below, the stair reveal was a major disappointment.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Project: Photo Safari

Last year my awesome aunts bought me a TravelZoo deal for a photo safari with a professional photographer, since they know my secret favorite pastime is photography.  This past weekend I finally got around to using it!  The original deal was actually for a walking tour of the memorials and monuments in the DC area - but those were all booked (probably because of the close proximity to the highly anticipated cherry blossom season.  No worries though! I was able to take tour with the same photographer, only inside the Museum of American History.  This actually worked out perfectly because the lessons were all focused on taking pictures in low light - which I hadn't mastered yet.

It was really a fantastic time - I spent the whole afternoon touring around in the Museum of American History looking at some of the exhibits like I really hadn't before.  I really enjoyed getting home and downloading the pictures... I was pleasantly surprised to see a major improvement from the first few shots through the last couple!  I can definitely say I'm a lot more confident in my ability to take good pictures in low light situations now!

Here are a couple of my favorite shots from the day.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Project: Living Room Fast Forward

I figured since the last post focused on the dining room, that I should do a 180 and focus on the other half of our large front room area - the living room!  I do have a proper "before" shot for this one. Note the window boxes - also made from paneling! This guy LOVED paneling!

Note the high-traffic area from the previous owners?
One of the projects that I didn't mention in the last post was the floor.  When we moved in, the entire house was carpeted. Actually, every room (besides the kitchen and bathroom) was carpeted in the same carpet.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Project: Dining Room Fast Forward

I haven't posted in a long time - probably because we've been so busy working on the house and planning a wedding... and probably a little bit because I'm not a very committed blogger.  I'll have to work on that.

This post is dedicated to updating the progress we've made on the dining room.  Sadly, I don't have a nice "before" picture from the living room perspective.  Probably because it was so awful. Seriously - awful.  The living and dining area is one big, long room, and the previous owners made the distinction between the two areas by putting up dark wood paneling on the walls in the dining area, and lighter wood paneling on the ceiling.  And, come to find out, those pretty beams that you see in the next picture are also just pieces of paneling. Yeesh.   This was the very first project that we took on as new homeowners.