March 31, 2011

Front Hall Reveal

Finally the moment you've all been waiting for... the front hall revealed!  Remember what it looked like before?

That's a LOT of green! 
After we planned and installed molding and painted the walls you saw the HUGE improvement, but after the light was installed, the mirror was hung and the new mirrored closet doors were up the room looked so much more modern and bright.

I appologize for the night pictures, especially since the increased brightness during the day is so wonderful!  But we do what we have to do... after all that planning the room is finally done, and I couldn't wait a second longer to share it with you!!

In an effort to keep things organized we have a cute little dish for keys and a tray for mail.
Also, I love this picture that I bought at an art fair, its actually made with embroidary thread!  It has an amazing shimmer up close... photos don't do it justice.
I also bought that cute basket under the table for collection of odds and ends that seem to always accumulate in the front hallway.  That way we can keep it off the floor and off the table.  Messy tables drive me insane!  I orginally had the cute basket that I found on a trip to Value Village that I told you about before, but I thought it was too small, this one works much better and I found it at Winners for only $12.

So there it is!  Our new front hallway.  I think that visitors will feel much more welcomed and I know that I am proud to answer the door and invite people in.  So come on in and stay awhile... if you missed any of the adventures along the way check out how the front hall went from before to after.

Linking up!beforeAndAfterButton


March 30, 2011

Closet Doors and Kissing Frogs

I talked about how much I hate our closet doors before and how I wanted to replace them with mirrored doors to add more light to the hallway. 
I tried to find some used doors online (Craig's List and Kijiji) for forever awhile without success.  If you need some guidance on how to post items on sites like Craig's List to get them sold, check out my tips.  Let's just say the whole "kiss a bunch of frogs before you find a prince" thing applied.  Then finally we found some that had potential... $85 and they were the right size, they were gold (princely?), but I thought I could probably spray paint them, however they were also pretty beat up (prince after a sword-fight?  I think I'm losing my metaphor here...).  The big setback was that they didn't come with with the hardware and tracks needed to install them.  We went to HD (our second home) to see if we could find the hardware that we needed to use our existing tracks with the doors or new tracks that would fit the old hardware on the doors.  Long story short... we didn't.  We got to HD and while looking for hardware we discovered that they had interior doors on sale, we had a quick look and found exactly what we were looking for.  We got our brand new all hardware included mirrored doors for just over $100.  The posting for used doors was asking $85.  For an extra $15 or so it was well worth the brand new shiny easy-to-install solution.

We even managed to transport them home on my trusty steed Jetta.  That's right, we fit the 30" x 80" doors in the trunk (with the seats folded down).  Mine's not quite this shiny...
I love that car!  The trunk is huge!  Well... don't get me started on my Volkswagen love... I could go on and on...

And we lived happily ever after with our lovely new closet doors.

March 29, 2011

I *heart* Spray Paint

So I may have a new obsession... spray paint.  It is amazing!  If you haven't tried it yet... Do it!  Just to warn you... it is addictive.  You've been warned.

After my unbelievable first spray paint success with the front hall light fixture.  I decided to tackle some other ugly ducklings and turn them into swans.  Here are some of my recent transformations.

Vent Covers


Central Vacuum Outlets


Hinges (these were shiny gold brass before... too ugly to photograph... plus I forgot.)
Ceiling Fan (believe it or not this fan was sponge painted green on all the metal parts... even on the arms.  It was horrifying.  Now it's all better with lovely satin nickel spray paint.)

Seriously, go get some spray paint and PAINT SOMETHING!  It is fun, addictive and makes a huge transformation.  I love the Rustoleom brand spray paint that I used for all these projects because the trigger is easy to use and you don't have to worry about getting paint on your "trigger" finger, but it does cost a bit more.  You could just use any regular can of paint and wear gloves.  Oh and a little tip... baby oil is great for getting spray paint off your skin, works like a charm.  Happy painting!

March 28, 2011

Thanks for the List, Craig

So it seems that "used" is coming back "in" again.  Maybe it's the struggling economies and tighter budgets, maybe it's the environmental movement, but either way it's a good thing.  Since we have been looking for affordable, but good quality furniture for our new house I have been turning to sites like Craig's List and Kijiji for help.

One thing I have noticed is that some people can really use some help on how to post an ad for sale.  Some ads sit on there forever while some are gone the same day.  Sometimes admittedly it is the quality of the item, obviously the best stuff goes quickly, but then there are some good stuff that lingers.  Here are some tips I have for sellers to help get those unwanted items gone as quickly as possible.

1. Don't lump items together.  If I'm looking for a dresser I probably don't also want to see your couch and ironing board.  I especially don't want a "group price" for all 3 items.  This is just lazy unless the item is a set (like a bedroom set) or you're having a one day sale and want to list all the items available.
2. Use a good title.  I would say "6 drawer dresser" instead of "dresser" or better yet "solid walnut 6 drawer dresser"
3. Include the measurements.  This is a big pet peeve of mine.  If you don't tell me how large the item is, how will I know if it will fit in my car/house.  Try to include length, width and height.  If the dresser has a mirror include those measurements separately.
4. Include a photo.  I know this can be hard if you don't have a camera of your own, but borrow one from a friend or use a camera phone.  One bad picture is better than none at all.  Trust me.  If your ad doesn't have a photo you are asking people to drive all the way to your house to see the item and then decide if they want to buy it.  Some people (like me) will skip all posts without photos.
If a photo is really not possible, include as much detail in the description as possible.  Something like "Solid walnut 6 drawer dresser  48"L x 22" W x 26" H.  Dresser is Victorian style and has curvy legs about 6" tall and carved drawer fronts.  Drawer pulls are black.  Dresser has some small scratches on top and sides, but is in good condition"
5. Respond promptly to questions and requests.  It's a good idea to update the posting to include the answers to questions that are asked.

Hopefully if you use my 5 hints above you will be happily decluttering your house of unwanted items, saving the planet, and helping people in need of what you are offering.  It will have you saying, "Hey Craig, thanks for the list."

March 25, 2011

A thrifting I will go...

I recently posted about how I am new to "thrifting", but after the success of my first trip to Value Village I decided that this was a hobby I could get on board with.  Since then I have made a few more visits and uncovered some more treasures that I wanted to share with you.

Here is a frame that I bought for $4.99
and turned it into this (using some primer and trim paint that I already had at home).
I have big plans for this frame as part of the front hall decor.  Don't you love how the frame mirrors the molding that I installed in the front hall already?

I bought this vase because I loved the shape.
I planned to paint it with my oil rubbed bronze spray paint because I was inspired by what Sarah at TDC did here, but then she posted about how the paint didn't work out here.  So I changed my mind and decided to leave it unpainted for now.  I think the colour is pretty and I'm sure I'll find somewhere to use it.  Come to think of it... it does kind of go with that green tile... hmmm...

I also found this cute basket for $2.  Who doesn't need cute storage?  Right now its going in the office to store "junk" but since its a great size and colour I can pretty much use it anywhere.
Not too bad so far... I have learned that you need to go often to find the "good stuff".  Sometimes I go and come out with nothing, but the browsing is still pretty fun.  I guess I'm just a "gatherer" type.  Most of the things that I bought were put out on the same day (they have the date on the price label).  So you can believe that the awesome stuff is gone on the day it arrives or soon after AND that I'll be carrying it out of there with a big grin on my face.  Happy thrifting!

Linking up!
SouthernHospThriftyTreasures copy_thumb

March 24, 2011

Ta-da! The Light

I've been dying to show this off since completion... the new front hall light!  In case you missed the suspense, I originally posted about this project last week, but didn't have a chance to install the light until the weekend.  Here it is...

Amazing!  I love the way it looks. 
I also picked up these cute shades for $1.99 also at Value Village (where I got the light) which just clip on to the light bulbs. 
With them on the light looks like this
I think they look like little hats... so adorable!  I'm not sure if I like it better with/without them... what do you think?

Just for fun... let's see the before...

and the after...

(giddy laughter) I could not be more proud.  And for only $4 (plus spray paint).  Love it.

Linking Up


March 18, 2011

Light up my life

I am new to "thrifting".  I have always been a fan of reusing and repurposing, but I am not a regular thrift store visitor.  I love to wander antique stores browsing, but I have never really thought of them as "stores" where you can buy useful stuff that you need.  Well, I was wrong (I hope my hubby is not reading this...).

We have a chain in my area called Value Village perhaps you've heard of it?  It's similar to Goodwill. 
I made my first visit there in search a light fixture for the front hall.  We have painted and purchased a mirror, for the dark front hall, but I figured the most bang for our buck would be to replace that sad little single bulb light fixture with a multi-bulb chandelier.  I needed something small since we only have 8 foot ceilings, but something wide enough to be able to balance the large mirror.

There in the back corner of Value Village I found this beauty.  It was fate.

Can you see that price tag?  Yes, it says $3.99.  So I said, "Yes, please!" and purchased my four dollar light.  I brought it home and got hubby to test it out to make sure that it was in working order before I started my makeover.  It was!  I was pumped. 
After reading many posts about the wonders of spray paint especially the Oil Rubbed Bronze finish I was excited to start my first project.  Yes, that's right.  No previous spray paint experience, but I was ready.  I figured how hard could it really be anyway?  First I ran out to Home Depot and picked up a can of this:(Actually 2 cans since I didn't know how much I would need, but 1 turned out to be more than enough)
Then I took the fixture apart taking pictures as I went to help me put it back together.  I won't include these because unless yours is exactly like mine it won't go back together the same way.  Then I cleaned the fixture with soap and water and dried it thoroughly.  I was impatient to get started with the painting (aka the "fun part") but I knew that if it wasn't dry all the way the paint would bubble or peel or just generally not look good.
Since it is still winter here (although surprisingly warm out today) I painted indoors by laying down a large drop cloth in the basement and covering all the boxes, etc in the area with drop cloths as well.  Just a tip, the paint does travel farther than you think it will so cover more rather than less (or paint outside).

Here are some tips I picked up that will help you get perfect results your first time:
1. Make sure the fixture is clean and very dry
2. Don't try to cover the whole thing with the first coat, it will be tempting, especially when you see how good its starting to look, but don't do it!
3. Spray a light coat of paint and then leave the room for 10 minutes.  I set a timer.  You have a chance to get some air, this stuff is a bit smelly, and it allows the paint to dry a bit.  Then head back to your painting room and repeat: light coat and then leave for 10 minutes.  About 3 coats should do it.

Voila!  A brand new gorgeous painted chandelier!  Are you excited to see what it looks like???  I promise I will have photos this weekend once it is hung (and I have a chance to upload them).  Sorry for the teaser... but the wait will be worth it, I promise. 

Update: You can now view the finished light here.

March 17, 2011

How To Finish the Molding Like a Pro

After you've done all the work to install your beautiful molding and made sure that it is level and square you'll want to make sure you take the extra steps to finish it off.  Trust me, this will make all the difference.

You'll start with molding with nail holes and some gaps in the corners (sorry I don't have a picture of this stage). 

First you'll want to sink the nails.  This sets them below the surface of the wood so that you can fill the hole left behind and make it look seamless.

Use a hammer
and one of these nail sinkers (not sure if this is the "technical" name)
If you use a nail gun to install the molding you can set the "depth" of the nails to be "sunk" already and you can skip this step.

Once the nails are sunk you need to fill the holes and you might as well do the corners while you have the spackle out.  In my experience filling the corners is the most important step to a seamless result, plus it hides any "Oopsies" and gaps.
I use just regular spackle like this
and my finger to apply (wash hands immediately after application).  You can wear gloves if you don't like to get dirty, but a finger works much better then a putty knife for this.

After filling the holes you will have something that looks kind of like this

A bit bumpy and rough.  To smooth this out you just have to sand it down.  I use a fine 220 grit sandpaper, which comes in big sheets like this
I cut the sheets into a small squares to make it easy to use.  You'll probably need a bunch of squares, just switch to a new piece when the one you're using gets "clogged" with paint/wood.  You'll know what I mean when you're doing it.

When you're done you should have something pretty like this.  Nice and smooth.
Now you're ready for a final coat of paint and you're done.  Since my wall and molding will be the same colour I didn't tape anything and just painted it free hand.  Also, I used a satin finish paint for the molding/wall because I don't like my trim too shiny, but I still wanted it to be easily wipeable.

I also got hubby to caulk around the outside and inside of the boxes to fill the gaps for an even more professional look, but I will plan to do this myself next time (there will be more molding!) and include a how-to for you.  I'm a bit intimidated by the caulk gun since it looks like a weapon or gynecological torture tool. 
But I stand by my "all women can use power tools (or non-powered tools) even the clumsy ones like me" statement.  I will master it and show you how you can master it too.

March 16, 2011

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Our front hall is looonnnng.  14 feet long to be exact and it needs some personality to avoid becoming a long boring corridor.  We already added a bold paint colour and some molding to the walls to give it some drama, but I think we need more... and some sparkle and some more light. 

I feel like you NEED a mirror in the front hall to "check" yourself before you leave the house.  The other day I almost left the house with a big blob of spackle on my forehead.  Don't ask me how it got there, I have no idea.  Thank goodness I had to pee before I left and glanced in the powder room mirror.  Although I was just going to Home Depot, I'm sure they've seen worse. 

In our old house we had mirrored closet doors on the front closet like these
Kingstar sliding mirror doors
They added a lot of light to the room.  Also Teddy (my schnauzer) would play with "the dog in the mirror" which was too cute for words.  I'd like to install them again in the new house if budget permits... right now we're stuck with these monstrosities.  Please excuse the mess and ignore the green paint, this picture was taken before our painting marathon.
I already decided that I wanted a HUGE mirror for the long wall (on the left in the photo above).  Well the mirror I had in mind is big and round and a bit traditional without being too ornate.  After a long time of searching, and having nothing but Goldilocks dissapointment (too big, too small, to shiney, too square), I saw this baby...

Hudson Mirror from Bombay & Co

Hello Drama!
 This mirror really spoke to me and it said, "I am perfect.  Oh and I'm on sale for 50% off... BUY ME".  So I did.  At $200 (after 50% discount) this mirror was still a big splurge, but because it is so large and really perfect for the space, I think its worth the investment.  Plus we'll be taking it with us if we ever sell the house.  I think I'm still on a 50% off high... gotta love a good sale.

Do you have a mirror in your front hall?  Score a great deal lately?

March 15, 2011

Molding - How to Install

So I was planning to write a post about how to put up molding, but I think I'll just defer to the experts on this one.  If you managed to survive my math calculations on how to get perfectly equal sized boxed on your wall then you're ready for the next step: putting them on the wall.  I recommend making a template, which for me was a 4" x 4" box (out of cardboard) that you can use as your "spacer".  It is much easier than trying to hold up the measuring tape and the molding and the nail gun (notice the 3 objects and only 2 hands).

You can see a great instruction sequence on hanging molding at House of Hepworths here (which I found after we hung all of our boxes - darn it) or follow Sarah at Thrifty Decor here (with videos).

Here are my top three tips for beautiful boxes:
1. Make sure you make the baseboards level with the earth (not level with your floor).  This will be invaluable when you are installing everything else.  Use a level and make sure the bubble is in the center and then nail those puppies up.  You may end up with a small gap under the baseboard, but its better than your whole wall looking crooked.  It goes without saying perhaps that starting at the highest point on the floor is a good idea here.
2. Install the baseboard first, then the chair rail, then the boxes.  This gives you a good reference point and will make your install WAY easier.  Once the baseboards are level you can use your template and that molding will go up like gangbusters.
3. Cut and install the bottom of the box last.  This piece is the one that you will notice the least (versus the top and sides), if you have any slight miscalculations in cutting you can hide them by cutting this piece slightly longer or shorter than the top so that you get a perfect fit.

Happy cutting and nailing!  Oh and just a quick shout out to me because I used a nail gun for the first time and no one died... or bled.  My husband MAY keep all power tools away from me because I tend to be quite a bit clumsy coordinationally challenged.  Yup, I just made that word up.  Coordinationally.  But all women can learn to use power tools, even us less than graceful ones.  Have you mastered any new tools lately?

March 13, 2011

Front Hall Progress (Painting Marathon)

Well the front hall is coming along... slowly.  We had to sand the walls because they are sponge-painted and I'm sure that you'll be able to see the texture through the paint if we just paint over it.  I want it gone for good, so we have to put the extra work in now.  Plus its a great workout for my arms... just have to keep telling myself that... I'll be able to arm wrestle Madonna when I'm done.  Look out!  Soon I'll be buff like this...

Anywhoo... Here's a little teaser of what the hallway looked like before.  You can see the pattern a little in the photo below and the green doors, but it is so much worse in person (this may be after one coat of primer... I think I forgot to take a true "before" shot... bad blogger, I know). 
Yikes!  Am I right?  Looks like green threw up all over the hallway.  Did you notice the lovely lace curtain that completely blocks off the only natural light into that hallway?  ... oh and in the closet...

Yup, that's a wallpaper boarder.  You thought it couldn't get worse, and then it did.
So here's what it looks like after 3... that's right THREE coats of primer and TWO coats of paint (That's FIVE coats total in case you weren't counting)... drum roll please...

Let me just say that after we painted the top half of the wall... I hated it!  HATED IT.  And maybe I cried... just a little after all that painting.  But hubby said, "Just wait... give it some time... it will look different when its all done" and man he was right!  Love that man.  With the doors painted white especially.  Wow.  It looks so good.  Now we're planning the trim, which you can see lined up in the floor.  Also, I have a plan for a new light fixture project to make a chandelier for less than $20, and I can't wait to show you the mirror I am coveting for that big long wall.  Stay tuned.

March 11, 2011

Molding Planning the size of the boxes - How To

Since I am a self-proclaimed math nerd, there's no point in denying it, I have a math degree.  Nerd alert!  I thought I would share my number crunching fun with you.  Doesn't everyone love math?  Well, let this mathie help you out with planning your molding install.

Step 1 - Measure your wall.  Mine is 168" long x 96" high (8 foot ceilings)
Step 2 - Determine the height of your chair rail (from the floor).  For 8 foot ceilings about 36" is standard, for 9 foot ceilings you could do 42" (to the TOP of the chair rail).  If you have a table picked out, you'll want the chair rail to be a couple of inches higher than the table.  My table is 32" high so the BOTTOM of the chair rail will be set at 36".
Step 3 - Determine the height of your baseboard.  If you are not replacing it, just measure, otherwise pick your new baseboard.  Mine is 4.75"
Step 4 - Determine your spacing between boxes.  3" is standard, but I like a little more space in the front hall, I'm going to use 4" since my baseboard is tall, I can go a bit bigger.  (you could do anything from 2" - 5" but don't go larger than the height of your baseboard or it will look out of proportion).
Step 5 - Determine the height of available wall under the chair rail.  Simple math... here we go. 
Distance to bottom of chair rail (Step 2) minus baseboard height (Step 3) = 36"-4.75" = 31.25" this is the amount of wall space that you have. 
Step 6 - Determine the height of your boxes.  Now you'll have spaces at the top and the bottom equal to Step 4 which is 4" x 2 = 8" total.  So the box height is Step 5 minus 8" which is 31.25" - 8" = 23.25"

Whew!  Are you still with me?  We're almost there.  Now we need to determine how long to make the boxes.

Step 7 - Determine how many boxes you want.  This may be based on how large you want the boxes... do you want them to be tall or wide or square.  I like the look of an odd number better so I'm going with 5 boxes.
Step 8 - Determine size of boxes.  Total wall length (Step 1) minus spacers (Step 4 x Step 7) divided by number of boxes (Step 7) which is (168" - 4" x 5 boxes) / 5 boxes = 29.6"

If you don't like the size of the boxes you end up with you can change the number of boxes and recalculate or use varying widths for the boxes... some skinny, some wider in a pattern that you like.

We put up painters tape on the wall to mark out some of the boxes to make sure that we liked the look before we went out and bought all the molding.  I'd recommend at least drawing it out on paper before you start cutting, but that's just me, I'm a planner.

If you didn't follow that at all and need help or you have questions send me an email... I'd be happy to help.

March 10, 2011

Front Hall - The Plan

Ok so you know about my plans for the molding in the front hall, which I will go into more detail about soon, but now I want to talk colours.  I think that the front hall should set the tone of the house, it should be "you" so that when people some into your home the impression that they first get is both personal and welcoming.  Also, since the front hall is a room that you really just pass through, I think you can go a bit bolder with colour or pattern since it won't seem as overwhelming in a hallway as it would in a room that you would sit in.

My favourite colour is turquoise.  That's something that you should probably know about me up front, which makes it perfect for the front hall.  I have to actually try (hard) to pick up other paint chips at Home Depot... if I'm not careful the whole house will end up painted in various shades of lovely blue-green.  Not that it would be a bad thing, but it might be too much of a good thing... know what I mean?

In choosing a colour for the front hall I had to consider the existing elements that will not be changing.  The front hall has lots of doors: the front door, a double door closet and a door to the powder room.  Right now, the closet doors are brown faux-wood laminate (yuck!) and the other two doors are painted a soft minty sage green, which was chosen I'm sure to match the forest green ceramic tile.  I suppose green was the former owner's "turquoise"... irony. 

I'm planning to paint all the doors white to match the trim (baseboard and molding).  Side note - there are a million colours of white out there... how does any one choose a trim colour to use throughout their house?  Maybe that's a topic for another post.  Sorry.  Back to the doors... the front door is a solid door that I would love to replace with a half glass door eventually since the hall is quite dark, but that is not in the budget right now, so we're whitening it up to lighten the room.

We're going to do molding, as I mentioned, on the bottom half of the wall and paint it all white to add even more lightness.  Then I started to get concerned that it might be too much white... and that probably we needed to go a bit bolder with the paint colour for the top of the wall.  This is what I am thinking...
Either the darkest or the next lightest one.  I have to be careful that the room doesn't come off too green since we're not changing the tiles.  I don't want to repeat the mistakes of the previous owner and overwhelm the space with too much of a good thing.  What's your favourite colour?  Is it reflected in your house?  Wardrobe?

March 9, 2011

Molding Inspiration

Our house is only about 30 years old, which may seem old to some, but its pretty new for a house.  This means that there is not a lot in the way of lovely archetectural details and old world charm, which I love.  I mean LOVE.  So, I figured that there must be a way to inject some myself.  Enter molding.  I love the look of molding, it adds some formality and character to boring spaces, and I think it will be beautiful in the front hall.  After doing a lot of online searching I found lots of inspiration... like these...

But not a lot of "how-to" for the do-it-yourselfer.  I mean... I could do that... right?

Many thanks to Sarah from ThriftyDecorChick for her amazing tutorials (with video) that made me feel like I really could do this myself.  Seriously, she rocks.

Now to make the plan...

March 8, 2011

Welcome or not?

The Front Hall may seem like an unlikely candidate for a "high priority" room, especially if you've seen the pictures of my house and said, "Why did you buy that place again?"  The house has potential and I think the front hall does too.  Since it's the first room I see every day when I come home, it's kind of like the introduction to our house.  I would like the introduction to say "Welcome home" instead of "Look at how ugly much potential I have."  So up next the Front Hall (or Foyer if you're fancy or British).

Does your front hall welcome you home?

March 7, 2011

Family Room Reveal

I am so excited to show off our new family room!  For reference (and because I love this part), let's look at it before...

Yuck!  I know.  And yes, I did peel all that wallpaper off by hand.  You can read about my tips here.
And now after...
Love the way the faux built-ins turned out!  They are just standard Ikea shelving units.  I have a plan for that remaining open space, but its a secret for now...
I love it!  We split the sectional, which was formerly a U-shape in our old house, in order to give us the matching "chair" and so that it wouldn't block the lovely brick fireplace.

It's such a relief to have it finished (well almost... that pesky coffee table needs painting still).  I can't even express how amazing it feels.  Hubby and I have been enjoying the room a lot!  I can't wait to have a fire in that fireplace... it's wood burning!  Now we can finally have people over without having to appologize for the "reno" mess and lack of seating.  Look at all that seating!  We can fit 8 people on that couch comfortably.  Time to start planning some parties.  I plan to enjoy it for at least a few days hours before pestering hubby to start the next room.  Just for fun, here are some more pictures of the new room... yay!  Love it!
and yes, Teddy makes another appearance...
Did you notice the shelving in the back right corner?  We fit it perfectly between the wall and the "bump-out" for the duct work.  Looks custom and built in, but was just a happy accident!  I love it when that happens!  Hope your Monday is filled with happy accidents!