Category Archives: home design

A shower curtain and bath mat

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midwest-modern-bathroomI said I wasn’t going to do anything else with this bathroom I hate, but I guess I caved. The peach tile and the icky tub still don’t do it for me, but at least I have a new shower curtain and bath mat. Since I’d made myself a shirt out of the fabric that had been destined to trim up the rest of the bathroom after I’d finished the window treatments (see link) I had to order more. This is Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern and it works remarkably well with peach tile. I can love the fabric even if the tile does give me hives.

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To make the shower curtain I sewed three panels of fabric together to match the width of my ready-made shower curtain liner, then sewed a folded-over band of fabric along the top and made buttonholes in all the same spots as the holes in the top of the liner. Making so many buttonholes got a little tedious but it was a simple project.

tub-matI ordered a new bathtub mat but then dressed it up by crocheting a border along the edges out of KnitPicks’ cotton Dishie yarn in Heat Wave. I thought the yarn I got had a truer red than the yarn in their product photo, but it still looks okay in my bathroom. I sewed loose stitches of yarn all the way around the edge and then made a simple scalloped border using a J size hook. The mat seems much more special now and it didn’t take long to do. Now I have one fewer thing to hate about my bathroom! And the mat is big, so it covers  up a good amount of the tile…

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A chalkboard coffee table

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My coffee table was looking really shabby. I bought it used on Craig’s List back before I had kids myself, when a friend’s son drew all over my old one in black Sharpie. It served us well through Dorothy’s toddler-hood, sustaining the abuse of many marker and crayon episodes, though I kept my Sharpies under lock and key. By the time Worth came along I thought it really could use replacing, but I hated the idea of getting a new one and then watching it suffer through another child. I decided to stick it out, and that poor old table got pock-marked when Worth banged on it with wooden food, scuffed when the boy and his puppy made a game of chasing each other up and over it and off the other side, and colored on some more. Then the legs, which always needed a periodic tightening, actually reached a place where they just wobbled hopelessly and no amount of wood glue could keep them from going askew when someone forgot, once again, that the poor old table was not for sitting. I still wasn’t sure I could get another one–after all, dog and boy are no more reliable around furniture than they were, and the Sharpies are bound to come out sometime. But then I saw the one in the picture above at a local thrift store for $15.00. I figured that for $15 I could watch the decline of another table; at least this one seems sturdy.

I sanded it and used chalkboard paint on the top panels. Maybe having a legal place to write on the table will save it from other child artwork mayhem. (A girl can dream.) I painted the rest in a shade of red that goes nicely with the flowers in my curtains, then distressed the edges a bit with sandpaper so when my paint job starts getting chipped it might look a little intentional.

The chalkboard panels look interesting and are functional too, since we often sit on the sofa to do our homeschool work. This is our official “first day of school” photo from this morning. I love not rushing out the door in the morning! We aren’t morning people, my kids and I.

I sewed erasers from scraps and an old towel. It has pockets on the back to stow the chalk.

I had some red paint left a the end of the project so I painted an old end table to match. I love the way paint makes non-matchy things go together.

Since I was already in furniture-painting mode I finally got around to sprucing up a desk chair I’d bought at a thrift store more than a year ago. I was using a very ugly, wobbly chair at my desk and I’d found this sturdy wooden one to replace it. I painted it in black paint left over from my china hutch project and recovered the seat, which had been wearing ripped faux leather. Now it feels good to have this room that we spend so much time in be a little brighter and all around less wobbly as we start the school year.

Rainbow shades on a chandelier

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My husband (a good guy, let me state for the record) finally got to the point on his honey-do list that he put up our new dining room light fixture and I got to see my new painted shades in action.

I couldn’t get just the right representative photo of them so I snapped them from all angles.

The matte black of the fixture matches my painted hutch.

When I read in magazines about the “soothing” effect of neutral colors I always get confused. Neutral colors make me itch! I love color, and I love my new rainbow shades too.

Here is the view from the kitchen, a big change from where we started. It is fun to watch our house become more and more ours as we continue to live in it and make little tweaks to make us happy.

A get well kit and a painted hutch

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Dorothy and Worth are not feeling well today, both down with the kind of passing tummy ailments that seem to accompany childhood. Thankfully neither child tends to get too pathetic; instead they seem rather glad to be allowed the rare chance to zone out in front of some DVD entertainment on our dusty television while Mama washes icky sheets and, in this case, blogs. Even though the stomach bug has hit all members of our family on a semi-regular basis since our little germ-magnet Dorothy was born, the first symptoms still seem to find us scurrying to collect the supplies we need to recover appropriately. Of course every family has it’s own version of comfort or soothing foods when they are sick, but we gravitate towards the old school Gatorade, chicken soup, soda crackers and those preternaturally bright popsicles that come as liquid in plastic sleeves. Last winter it occurred to me that it might be handy to actually just keep all those items on hand so that when one of us gets sick we can skip the harried trip to Kroger. The problem was that such infrequently-used items kept getting shoved to the deep, dark recesses of the pantry where no one can find them, especially if Mama is the one sick and the person looking for the Gatorade is biologically incapable of moving other food items to see if it might be behind them. So after my last bought with the stomach flu, when I suffered through a recovery without the comfort of technicolor popsicles, only to find them the next day right where I had said they were, I got the idea for our Get Well Kit. The kit is just an old kitty litter bucket which I scrubbed clean, decorated, and stocked with our sick foods of choice. I closed it up and placed it in an obvious (I hope!) place, and then today when I needed bland, salty noodles for my ailing angels I knew right where to look. Now they’ll go on our regular grocery list and the bucket will be replenished with no extra gas money involved.

I was having some trouble with my old china cabinet. I don’t think I’ve ever posted a photo specifically of it, but I’m sure it’s appeared incidentally in other photos, like here.  It was a very pretty, traditional, glass-doored and glass-shelved oak cabinet. I lucked into it by deserving some good karma after my arm was broken when Dorothy was a baby–a friend who was downsizing gave it to me and my brother delivered it to me in his truck. I stuck in my dishes with my one good arm loved the thing to death in our old house.  In this house it never looked quite right. The very small dining room needed an anchor point, and so much furniture of the same color all crammed in just didn’t work. I’d have probably kept it anyway just because I was fond of it, if it hadn’t been for the unnerving combination of teetering glass shelves + all the dishes we got for our wedding + my son zooming through the house in a plasma car. It was an accident waiting to happen. New furniture wasn’t in my budget, however, and buying something to hold dishes on Craig’s List would require the use of a bigger vehicle than I possess. Then I saw a photo on Pinterest one day of a painted hutch with open shelving, where the owner’s white dishes stood out beautifully and didn’t appear to be on the verge of plasma car disaster. I found a similar hutch on Craig’s List at a secondhand furniture store not far from my house. I printed out a photo of my china cabinet and decided it couldn’t hurt to ask the owner for a trade. I was a little surprised when the owner accepted at once! My china cabinet good karma continued. Since my cabinet was worth more than the outdated (but very sturdy–I checked) hutch in her store she was happily willing to send a truck to pick mine up and deliver hers. We’d exchange no money. Perfect!

I had the men stick my new/old hutch in my garage for its transformation. The top, above, had two glass doors. I took one to a glass place to price replacing them with clear glass, because just a wee bit of glass up so high didn’t feel too dangerous, but the price was high so I decided to wait on them.

The bottom was a little beat up but sturdy and very roomy, to accommodate lots of extra dishes (I’m a dish hoarder; I’ve disclosed this before) and linens.

I spent a very pleasant afternoon in the garage with the radio and my electric sander. I knocked off the decorative railing on the middle shelf (kapow!) and decided as the paint went on that I actually really liked the look of the thing without the doors. I used a satin finish black paint and all new black hardware.

I’m really pleased with how this turned out. My white dishes look awesome against the black, and I can access them more easily as well as change out a few accent pieces seasonally. (My Louisville Stoneware out now is in honor of the local upcoming “holiday” of Kentucky Derby Day.) Although this hutch may not have the trade value of the cabinet I had before it is infinitely more valuable to me to have a piece of furniture that can withstand a plasma car crash without reducing my dish collection to dust, and I really like the way having something big and black in the room helped it look better overall. The room even seems bigger now without so many brown things in it. This could be dangerously habit-forming, though. I can totally see how furniture barter could become a slippery slope! Good thing the kids cannot be offered in trade…

A winter wreath and some other projects for the home

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I never know what to hang on the front door after Christmas. Holly berries no longer seem right, but it’s definitely not time for spring flowers either. I decided to buy a cheap thrift store wreath and winterize it. The photo above is the wreath I started with, purchased for about $2.

I lightly spray-painted the whole thing white. The original colors still show through, but it looks kind of frosty. Then I added silver snowflakes (white ones from a craft store, spray-painted silver), a colorful bow, and a vintage bird I found at a yard sale last summer. I like that the blue gives a little color to my winter front porch but I still feel seasonably appropriate.This might not be the best photo of my new pillowcases but at least it shows them in action. The striped print, Robert Allen Kukula Pinata, coordinates with my new curtains (finally all finished!) in Kiki Pinata. I like that the boldness of the stripe and color anchors my sort of washed-out old sofa, but that it isn’t so matchy-matchy with the curtains that anyone is going to get seasick from all the flowers. The kids and dog obviously like them as well. It has been part of our daily homeschool routine for Dorothy to read a book or two to her brother, so that is what is going on here. I don’t actually want to talk about why my 22-month-old is sucking on a pacifier, and since this is my blog, well, I won’t.

Belle’s doggie bed was originally intended to occupy space on the second floor of our home, but it ended up being more useful in our main living space. The downside to finally finishing the curtains in this room was that the bed, covered in fabric to match my bedroom, now looked kind of clashy in the family room. I found a nice, washable fabric to make a new dog bed cover at Joann. It’s the Lisette brand but I didn’t see this print on the website. It looks like an Ikat print and is a color that should both match the room and the dog–so her hair won’t show so badly! Both the person who cut my fabric and the person who checked me out asked what I was going to do with the pretty fabric. It was kind of funny to tell them it was for my dog, but she should have pretty things too. Why not?

 

Curtains and Christmas crafting

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Our family room has been late to get the love that some of our other rooms got months ago. I’ve had the fabric (Kiki Pinata) picked out to make the curtains for months but could never find the time to start them. I finally got fed up with not having curtains one night recently and stayed up until 2:00 a.m. sewing, but my sleepy brain screwed them up and I spent most of that time trying to fix my own dumb mistakes. Curtains are pretty easy–mostly straight seams–but for some reason that night I couldn’t hack it. I did finally did finish the set for this one window and I really love the print, even though it is not the most appropriate backdrop for the Christmas tree we just set up in front of it. Now one down, one regular and two double windows to go. Yikes. But this room is really shaping up. Here we were right after move-in last year, with the unlit last-minute Christmas tree thrown in the corner next to a pile of boxes. I’m thankful every day that we are not moving this year! This year we set the tree up on a table to keep precious ornaments out of reach of kids and puppies, and my crafty Grandma’s memory is honored by the use of her handmade felt tree skirt and complete felt nativity. A much more peaceful scene than moving boxes.

After enjoying the seasonal pillow cases I made for my sofa a few weeks ago I decided I needed new ones for Christmas. I used wide strips of Christmas fabric (which accidentally found it’s way into my Fabric.com shopping cart when I was buying the curtain fabric) of varying widths to make intentionally non-matching pillows for each side of the sofa. The kids keep taking all the cushions off to make a mouse house with them and some blankets so I was unable to photograph them on the sofa, but here is one on the floor in its more natural habitat. I did some decorative machine stitches where the strips are joined and it looks cute. The final product looks cheerful and seasonal and kid-friendly both on the sofa and off.

My other recent holiday project was to make Rob a new stocking. His previous stocking was small, and Dorothy noticed this year that it seemed a bit plain next to the others. (This year we’ve also added an Etsy-purchased personalized stocking for Belle the dog.) I was under the impression that Rob’s old stocking was one of those emotion-infused items that came with my husband and Must Not Be Changed, but it turns out he didn’t even remember who made it for him so I was able to stick it in his Thou Shalt Not Throw Away box downstairs (we have issues with him being a keeper and me being a tosser–but that’s another story) and upgrade his stocking by the fireplace. I wanted to make it myself since I love him better than the dog. I used a rather manly green and gold stripe print I had left over from a project a couple years ago and lined it with some green corduroy, also from my stash. I stitched his name in gold thread and then sewed on some red jingle bells for color. My favorite part of this project was the way Dorothy fussed over unveiling it for him when he came home from work–she’s so glad Santa can now treat him with adequate generosity!