As part of our painting marathon a couple of weeks ago, my office got a new coat of paint - on both the walls and the ceiling.
While I would have loved some turquoise walls, I decided that it was probably better for our house as a whole to go with the same color we had chosen for the livingroom (which is attached to my office) and the rest of the house. - Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray 7043. We painted both the walls and ceiling the same color - and remarkably, only needed one coat of paint to cover it (we used the Sherwin Williams Cashmere paint and were very happy with it).
Along with covering over lots of scratches, dirt and a WHOLE bunch of holes in the walls, I took the opportunity to give my office a little sophistication upgrade as well.
It used to be crafty and crowded (here's a before picture from a few years ago):
When I started feeling claustrophobic, I removed several things from the room, including that giant shelf on the left, that was relocated to Paxton's bedroom to store toys. But then my office was just kind of yellow-ish and boring as you can see here (photo taken a few weeks ago):
So here it is now, after a little more thought and attention to detail (probably too much if you ask Ben...I tend to get obsessive).
While there may still be a few tweaks to make along the way, I'm very happy with my slightly more sophisticated office. It flows much better now from the kitchen and livingroom on either side of it.
Subconsiously, I think I used this office as inspiration and stuck with very neutral shades of gray, tan, and brown, with a touch of color, found mostly in the artwork.
Here's a view from the living room (which is painted in the same color).
I replaced the lampshades on lamps on top of my desk with round white shades instead of the old-style pleated shades that were on there before. I'm considering adding some trim or covering them with fabric to add some color...but haven't settled on that quite yet.
I also bought a new office chair (Temur-Pedic TP8000), which while it isn't exactly winning any style awards, is very comfortable, and that wins out when I sit in it ALL the time! My old chair was giving me all sorts of hip problems -- and I'm too young for that.
I really wanted the artwork in my office to be inspiring and meaningful -- and made by other artists...not by me. My old office was a little too self-indulgent I think, full of my own projects and artwork. It's time to appreciate the talent of others! Here's some info about some of the artwork I chose:
- A pen drawing of a statue and aquaduct called Fuente de las Tarascas that I bought in Morelia, Michoachan, Mexico the summer I studied there. (hanging to the right of my desk in the gold frame)
- A watercolor print "Flowers in Vase" from an Israeli artist called Victor Shrem (a wedding gift from my aunt & uncle)
- Do What You Love and Do it Often Printable from How Joyful (FREE)
- Vintage Camera Printable by Design Editor (FREE)
Here's a look at the left corner of the office BEFORE:
I bought, hung & hemmed (in that order) new curtains from World Market (Silver Dupioni Grommet Curtain). Don't look at the back of them. It ain't pretty. Seriously. But from the front...it'll do. A little tip - I hemmed these faux silk curtains by hand, while they were hanging on the pole. That way I knew they'd rest just above the top of my desk. Measuring isn't my strong suit and sewing faux silk was WAY too intimidating to attack with my sewing machine. I hung the curtains right below the crown molding instead of just above the window to help make the room look taller, and to match the height of the new curtains I bought for the living room.
I built a third section to my desk to give myself some table space on the blank wall behind me. (Actually, I built about 75% of it. Ben finished it off after I messed it up and abandoned it to make dinner instead one night. He saves the day often on stuff like that - he's so much more precise than me!)
More Artwork Info:
- The large painting on the left is a watercolor print called "Autumn Sunset" of Chicago, painted by a family friend, Tom Lynch.
- "Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy" printed from internet - I can't find the original source... :(
- The black and white photograph of the bare tree was taken by my mom. I'm not sure where or when? I'll have to ask her. She had this frame & photo up in her old house on a gallery wall, and I inherited it when she downsized to a camper (she's a rambler now!)
I bought that new table lamp for the corner at Home Goods. I'm still thinking I might paint it a dark turquoise, but for now, I like the yellow.
This rug took me FOREVER to decide on. I was pretty much obsessed with rug and curtain shopping both online and locally until I settled on this one from Target.com - Mohawk Medallion Rug. I had already bought and returned another rug, so I wasn't willing to order online unless I could easily return it locally. So I stuck with stores like Target. :) I like how it has a pattern, but isn't completely overwhelming and busy. Plus, the dark gray medallions tie in the couch from the livingroom (so do the curtains) and the light colored medallions bring out the gold in my storage baskets.
The "Hallway" Corner:
Finally, here's the last corner of the room, which may still need a little work. You can see how the room connects to both the livingroom (on the left) and kitchen on the right. It was originally supposed to be a formal dining room.
I'm thinking about painting this antique corner shelf, but can't decide on a color. Maybe a buttercream yellow? Or muted turqouise? I would leave it in the natural color, except I don't like how it looks next to the red hardwood floors. Maybe I could just paint the legs or the legs and the outside panels? I'm open to suggestions!
I'm not sure what (if anything) to put on the walls above it. Maybe some bare wall aren't so bad...
In any case, I'm calling the office "done" for now! And I love it. Maybe now I can get back to doing some work...instead of obsessively shopping for rugs and curtains.
So...since there never seems to be a true and official "DONE" to this decorating thing (even though I wish there were), I'll go ahead and share the kitchen and dining room after our painting marathon last week (1 week + 7 rooms + 7 ceilings, + 2 sick kids = pure chaos).
We went from a dirty, scratched, banged up and beaten khaki flat paint (that looks unbelievably better in photos than it did in person) to a rich, dark gray in the kitchen and dining room (that, ironically *doesn't* seem to photograph as well, but we love in person).
Besides the dirt and scuffs we were anxious to cover up, we weren't digging the brown on brown on more brown color scheme and have never liked how the khaki walls meshed with the reddish floors.
So, with the help of a professional decorating friend, we chose a dark gray paint - Sherwin Williams Anonymous 7046 - that we pulled from the flecks in our granite countertops. Since we started with almost NO contrast, we were looking for a very distinctly different color than the cabinets and counters.
In natural daylight, the color has a nice dark gray tone, but in more tungsten lighting at night, it does have a slight olive-greenish hue that I'm not *crazy* about...but it works, and replacing some light bulbs for whiter lighting might help with that.
Is the room darker? Yes. Cleaner? MUCH. And most importantly -- it's not so dang brown! It has a little bit of a restaurant/cafe feeling to it now.
Here are some photos from all four corners of the room...
I'd still like to figure out how and where to add a pop of color without adding much clutter, (I'm open to suggestions - Throw rugs? Curtains on the porch doors? Backsplash art?) but for now, just being clean and painted is reward enough!
Per our friend's professional suggestions, we also painted the ceilings the same color as the walls. We had intended to paint both the kitchen and dining room ceilings that same dark gray color, which we love in the kitchen (it actually makes the ceilings appear to recede and get taller). But...after one coat on the dining room ceiling, we were not happy with the way our light fixture reflected light off of the dark color. It looked very green and just wasn't good. So instead, we painted the ceiling in the dining room (which is nicely divided from the kitchen, even though it's an open space), two shades lighter in the same color family - Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray 7043. Ahh. Much better. With all the windows in there, it actually makes you kind of feel like you step outside when you sit down at the dining room table.
In addition to all the painting (and cleaning), we did a little bit of decluttering and moved some furniture out of the room to try and open it up even more. The tall brown bookshelf in the corner of the dining room has been replaced with a small round table and plant. And my black secretary desk that was underneath the gallery wall has been happily relocated to the entryway. Moving those larger pieces out gives us a little more breathing room and makes the rooms feel bigger.
I'm also trying to be *really* sure about the wall art and decor before I put more holes in the walls, and am trying hard not to fill EVERY. SINGLE. SPACE. That's very hard for me - it runs in my blood. Just ask my mom. :) So, I'm still pondering what to hang and whether to re-hang some of the wall art, which is why a few spots look oddly bare.
Wondering about how the gallery wall survived the repainting? No? I'm gonna tell you anyway.
I was pretty sure I wanted to keep it, and I KNEW I didn't want to have to rehang the whole thing from scratch, so when we prepped to paint the wall, I took everything down, but left the nails and marked the holes that I wanted filled with a red marker. Then I took all the nails out and we filled the unwanted holes (there were plenty of extras), but left the ones we needed. We painted right over it all, and when it came time to hang the gallery back up, I just followed a photograph of the old wall like a map to find the places where I could push the nails back into place and hang the photos. Worked wonderfully.
And whew...I think I still like it. :)
So there you have it. The kitchen/dining room not-so-big reveal, that no one on earth cares one bit about, except me. It's not plastic surgery...just a little makeup change. :)
You know I have an affinity for favorite old t-shirts. I simply cannot throw away a sentimental shirt. Especially the Chicago Fire Department shirts that my dad has given us. We wear them till they literally start falling apart, I alter them to fit better so I'll wear them more, and now I've begun using them as wall art!
Paxton has grown out of his animal-themed nursery. So gradually we've been turning his room into a more big-boy room. He already had a giant fire station (Kidkraft Deluxe Fire Rescue Set) that he got for Christmas last year, plus several larger fire trucks, so we decided to continue that theme.
Lucky me. :) I had several old authentic CFD t-shirts and a few red record album cover frames that made the perfect (and cheap) wall-art project for his big boy room.
This t-shirt framing idea would be really cool in a teen's room - maybe to display old sports team tees or jerseys, or favorite concert t-shirts, etc.
I used several different t-shirts for all the frames. The back design for three of the shirts were put into these red frames. I took the backing of the frame out, wrapped the design on the back of t-shirt around the wood backing, and placed it in the frame.
Next, I cut the rest of the t-shirt off and secured it to the board with good ol' duct tape! No one sees the back -- it's okay that it's not pretty.
I still had the front emblems from the t-shirts leftover that I didn't want to throw away, so I used those in some smaller frames that I had spray-painted red. I used duct tape again to attach the fabric to the the back of the white photo mat.
I like how this 5-minute project turned out, and I think it gives his "big boy fire station" room a more grown-up feel.
I still have a few projects I might work on to finish off his room:
- maybe a custom-painted sign that says "PAXTON FIRE DEPARTMENT" to go below the t-shirt frames
- or a fire-bell lamp above his bed
- paint the walls
- add a big life-sized dalmation figurine at the foot of his bed
- a white ladder shelf above the bed on the side wall
- and wouldn't it be cool to have a brick wall installed alongside his bed? (okay, I probably won't really do that one).
But for now, this is a good upgrade (along with that headboard I got from craigslist & the little red dresser that was about to be tossed in the trash by my neighbors - a good sanding and a fresh coat of glossy red paint, and it fits right in!)
He seems to like it too. That's important, right? :)
There's nothing like a deadline to get a long-term home improvement project finished up. Ben has been chipping away at a landscaping project in the front and back-yard since about March. But with Ayla's birthday party on the horizon, he wanted to get it finished up -- and he did!
It began with this vole-infested shed at the back of our yard that needed to be hauled away:
While the kids and I were our of town for Spring Break, Ben and his brother Josh took a sledgehammer to the shed and hauled it off into this lovely dumpster that sat in our driveway for about two weeks. The day it arrived was a very exciting day for Paxton!
When we got home from our trip, the shed was gone (as was the rotting deck in the backyard, a grill and a couch that had past it's prime. When a dumpster is available, you better make good use of it!)
In addition to tearing down the shed & deck, Ben spent HOURS and HOURS working on grading the dirt in the flower bed, adding a french drain and gravel, and putting in edging to set the groundwork for a large flowerbed. It's a shame I can write all that work into just one sentence. It was a massive undertaking!
Next, we had a huge pile of dirt delivered to put some good soil down for our flowerbed. The kids had a blast in that dirt pile...who wouldn't?
Once all the dirt was down and graded for good water drainage, we covered it with weed-blocking paper and left it for about a month or so while we were busy with everyday life.
Then one week, we noticed we were about to have gorgeous, unseasonably cool weather and knew we had to get on the ball to get these flower beds finished. This was our chance. It was time to get digging.
So we headed to Home Depot and bought up a ton of perennial flowers and bushes and spent a very long Saturday digging about 100 holes in our yard! Needless to say...we were exhausted at the end of that weekend. But...after adding some mulch over the top, we finally had our finished flower beds:
The backyard isn't the only area that got a little facelift. Ben followed the same process on the front flowerbeds too:
Now comes the hard part....keeping them alive!
Hopefully our work (mostly Ben's) won't be in vain, and these few intense days and weeks of work willl pay off over the years and we'll see all of these flowers and bushes growing back year after year.
Next yard project (who knows when???) will be making some level ground in the back yard for kids to play...might have to hire professionals for that big job!
Saturday morning, we hosted Ayla's 6th birthday party in our front lawn.
She had requested a "Strawberry Shortcake Festival" birthday party. Can't say no to that! We turned it into a summer fun festival, and planned a morning of water sports and "fair food". Here's how the party went down:
I ordered these "Strawberry Sweet Berry Birthday Party" invitations from Zazzle and just change the wording to fit our party.
Tip: I always like to include a drop off and pick up time and mention whether a meal will be served at the party on the invitation. Helps answer a few questions parents are likely to have in this strange inbetween age where parents are often expected to stay at parties with their kids. I got several comments from moms that were SO glad to see that information on the invitation!
Decorations were pretty simple for this party. We borrowed some pop up tents from our neighbors for a festival-like atmosphere, set up a few tables for food & gifts, and put out lots of water toys spread across the lawn.
I made a chalk sign on the driveway for a great "welcome" sign and photo backdrop.
For one of the tents, I made a quick "Happy Birthday Ayla" banner (tutorial here) with some colored cardstock, ribbon and my Silhouette to cut the letters. The kids layed their towels under this tent to eat lunch and open presents.
Under the other tent, I added some red and turquoise fringe that I ordered from ShopSweetLulu.com. We had two tables set up in an L-shape with an adorable strawberry tablecloth (from Target) and a plain pink plastic table cloth on the other. One table was for food, the other held gifts and party favors.
Speaking of party favors...
Each kid went home with a bubble wand. I snagged all the pink and green ones from our local Dollar Tree. We added a strawberry candy with a tulle baggie and a cute (and free!) chevron printable "thank you" card. Then Ayla added a Strawberry Shortcake sticker to each wand.
We tried to keep it simple, but feature "fair food" for our festival. So our menu looked like this:
- Popcorn in green chevron bags
- Corndogs (from Sams)
- Strawberries in Berry Baskets
- Strawberry Fanta with red & white paper straws
- Cupcakes with pink & white icing (Target)
I bought plain cupcakes with sprinkles and added a slice of strawberry to the top to fit the theme:
Activities & Games:
As everyone arrived they played in the yard with all the water toys. We set up three baby pools full of water with sponge balls, water shooters, a sprinkler and a slip-n-slide for the kids to run wild -- which they did!
The night before, Ben and I filled about 200 water balloons. I bought pink & green ones from Dollar Tree to match the Strawberry Shortcake colors.
The water balloon toss was a little chaotic, and I had to do lots of shouting to try and get them to (hear) and follow the instructions.
Next we played a relay race game where the kids ran to a kid-sized camping chair and sat on a water balloon to pop it and then ran back. They liked that game a lot - and got plenty wet in the process.
After a few rounds of that, we just let them loose on the big bucket of balloons. Pure FUN!
The only other formal game we played was with some really cool sponge balls that my neighbor had made and let us borrow. Each team had to carry a wet sponge ball down to the bucket and try to squeeze out the water with their neck into the bucket.
They started cheating quickly. But it was still lots of fun.
And that was pretty much it! Two hours of glorious weather (thank goodness!), lunch and lots of running around the yard. I think it was successful and fun for all the kids. Hard to say...I was running around like crazy the whole time! :) I'm not sure I'm meant for party hostessing....but the planning sure is fun!
Since it's what I do and love, I think it's important to do my best to support other mom-based businesses with a handmade twist. So when offered the opportunity to review this adorable little etsy shop called Burlap + Blue, I jumped at the chance.
Burlap + Blue specializes in cake stands, dessert pedestals and home decor with a vintage-inspired feel. And Linda, the shop owner has a great eye for vintage and shabby-chic, as you can see from her blog. She even has some great DIY tutorials:
|Shabby Flower Pillow||Burlap + Ruffles Ottoman||Wood + Felt Buntings|
This particular black and white damask dessert pedestal in her shop caught my eye right away.
It's made from combining a gorgeous patterned ceramic plate and a painted metal candlestick.
Together, they create this beautiful, delicate stand that says "I'm special."
I envision it proudly supporting a gorgeously decorated scrumptious cupcake for a special birthday, tiny little cheese cubes at a party buffet, or a perfectly wrapped little present with a pretty bow. But for today, a few oatmeal cookies will have to do. :) Don't worry, they're yummy too!
Check out some of the other great hand-crafted products that Linda has in her Burlap + Blue Etsy Shop!
How cute are those customized coasters? And the clock? Love it!
I'll bet you'll find a special piece in her store that speaks to you. If you do..use coupon code signsbyandrea for 15% off - expires 3/22/12.
You're welcome. Happy shopping!
I've been getting antsy. When we moved into this house almost 5 years ago, we had no interest in painting. After all, we had *just* spent 2 years repainting and updating every surface of our old house, plus we had a 1 year old kid to take care of. So, we've had the flat brown paint on every wall in this house ever since we moved in. Now it's full of scratches, dents, holes and marks - most of which we've made, I'll admit.
But I tell you what, if Pinterest doesn't make you want to repaint every room (and thing) in your house, you must not be pinning enough!
So, I made myself a little "Living Room" pinboard and tried to be very systematic and realistic about the color schemes I could use, while trying not to buy much more than paint and maybe recovering a couple of pillows. While I may change out lamps, the rug & curtains at some point, I wanted to start with something that works with what I've already got. Which is this: white bookshelves, navy furniture, and green rug & curtains.
First, I picked out a bunch of light gray swatches, because even though *I* love the idea of turquois-y walls, I was pretty sure Ben wouldn't...and those red floors might not do so well anyhow with such a bright and dominant color. We agreed on a swatch that seemed to contrast enough with the white trim, but wasn't too dark or tinted any strange color.
Then I came up with this:
Working with the navy couch, white bookshelves & trim, green curtains and reddish floors, I added gray walls (using the color from my swatch) and some turquoise accents to make this color scheme.
Then I played around with some of the actual elements in the room, including two large paintings we have and put this idea board together (no, that's not my child in the photo...just someone who has the same Expedit shelves & a navy couch - convenient, eh?!):
Then I painted. It only took a day. Then I put everything back into place so we could decide if we like it or not:
Why do the walls look baby blue? I don't know. Because things on your computer screen never turn out quite the same in real life. Actually, even in this photo they look more gray than they seem to look in real life. *sigh*
MY VIEW: (from my office chair)
I do REALLY love the Expedit shelves put together on a corner like this. Like a little mini-library that fills this side of the room quite well.
My general feelings so far about this new paint color:
- I like it better than the brown with the red floors.
- I'm not sure about the green. I might want a large gray fluffy rug instead and maybe some charcoal gray curtains.
- I'd like to replace the lampshade with a circular drum shade.
- I need a cool piece of furniture to put our TV on - painted white, or dark gray, I think.
- I need some turquoise accents!
- Should I have gone with a darker shade that looks less blue?
- I think the color should extend into my office, the entryway and upstairs hallway. But I don't think this particular color would work in the kitchen/playroom area of the house.
I like how it looks with our "Dot Calm" painting:
I'm open to suggestions and feedback! What do you think?
Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham, AL
My grandparents bought a beautiful set of maple furniture for my mom and aunt when they were young. A dresser & mirror, two secretary desks, a lingerie chest and a set of bunk beds. If there were night stands, I'm not aware of it!
Anyhow, my mom inherited the bunk beds, dresser and one of the secretary desks when she moved out on her own (or sometime in her young adult life), which means that for most of my life, *I* used them as my bedroom furniture.
They'd been beat up, scratched, stained, dented, and even had a LOT of stickers put all over them. But still, they remained sturdy pieces of furniture. We had the dresser refinished as a wedding present when Ben and I got married 11 years ago, and it now resides in Ayla's room. As does one of the twin beds, which has since been painted with white laquer paint.
But the secretary desk that I love so dearly has unfortunately sat in our garage taking up space and collecting dust for 11 years until we were ready to spend the money to have it refinished. We waited and waited and discussed it and stewed over it every time we cleaned out the garage. Finally, this year, I decided it was time to either fix it up and use it somewhere in the house or let it go.
Well, I couldn't let it go.
I knew it would look so great in our kitchen and help keep all the mail and papers at bay that seem to collect on the island. But...I'd only like it *IF* it was painted, not stained. With all the red wood floors in our kitchen, the wood finish just didn't look quite right. But imagine it all painted black...now THAT would be sharp!
Originally I was going to try and paint it myself. That illusion lasted about 10 minutes when I told Ben about my big revelation and he said "you're not doing this yourself." He was right. This desk has an insane amount of nooks and crannies and I'm not known for my detailed precision when it comes to stuff like this. Oh, and I've never done any refinishing before so I have zero experience.
So off to the professionals I went. Brezina Refinishing was recommended to me by a local friend, so I called for an estimate, was not completely shocked by the price, and decided to just go for it.
Brezina Refinishing (Tony Lee)
4915 5th Ave S
Birmingham, AL 35222
(Be sure to tell Tony that Andrea Steed sent you!)
I asked Tony for a black satin finish with slight distressing. I was VERY pleased!
He did just the perfect amount of distressing around the edges so that the original wood peeks through. Plus, check out that shiny brass hardware all spiffed up!
He finished every piece of it, inside & out, front and back (since the back is open to our playroom downstairs). It even got three new knobs for the inside drawers (since I was so resourcefully using a paper clip - yikes.
Even the inside shelves have some neat distressing marks that almost make it look like it's *actually* worn down that way.
And the chair looks just as good! Check it out:
Ahh...love it. Working with Tony at Brezina Refinishing was a joy. I would absolutely recommend him for any wood refinishing work. I even got to see some samples of cool furniture he's restored and re-vamped in his workshop and home. He does fantastic work. Plus, I caught him during a slow season, so he was able to have my desk delivered to me only a week and a half after I brought it to him. Unbelievable!
I'm so glad to finally have this desk out of the garage and into the house! Yay!
Next on the bedroom furniture refinishing list -- turning that other twin headboard and footboard into a bench for the entryway. Something along these lines...maybe in a color this time though! I think I'll probably let Brezina Furniture tackle that project too. :)
Inspired recently by the really cool white pumpkin w/black lettering trend, my sisters-in-law and I had a girls night and made our own versions.
Here's how we did it:
Peel back the excesss vinyl, leaving the lettering and design.
Then press the transfer paper to the design so that you can place it easily on the pumpkin. We used large artificial white pumpkins (purchased at 50% off from Michaels.)
Gently peel back the transfer paper and press the vinyl onto the pumpkin, revealing your design.
We decided to add a thin coat of matte Mod Podge over the design, to be sure it stayed put (since the adhesive vinyl didn't seem to be well adhered to the pumpkin. Plus, we thought we might display our pumpkins outside and wanted to help keep them from peeling.
I was so happy with how they turned out, and amazed at how easy it was to do! Here's a look at all three of our creations:
We aren't the only ones with awesome black and white pumpkins. Here are some versions around the web that inspired our evening:
Looking for a fabulous new addition to your fall decor? How about a custom Sign by Andrea? For a limited time only, these seasonal custom-designed hand-painted signs are only $20!*
Trick or Treat? - black w/white lettering - 2ft x 6in - $20
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Count Your Blessings - brown (as shown) or black w/white lettering - 2ft x 6in - $20
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Don't forget to check out my other personalized sign designs when you order so you can combine shipping costs. It's not too early to start thinking about holiday gifts!