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Falling For Fall

At the Beach

I’m sitting at the beach in Cape Cod while I write this article and I can’t tell you much fall is NOT on my mind. That said, I do love the change of seasons and though I love warm weather (I’m a transplanted Texan, after all), fall is my favorite time of year. The crisp smell in the air, the soft filtered sun, the beautiful warm colors; I sometimes wish it could be fall all year long.

At this time of year, I’m ready to update my house for the new season, on a budget of course. Small changes make a big difference in the way you look at your home. Starting with the outdoors, change out your potted annuals for mums, cut back the browning perennials, trim up trees and bushes, and start prepping beds for winter.

Working your way indoors, start by changing your color palette with warm fall colors. Orange, red, gold, plum and green are quintessential fall favorites. You don’t have to go overboard – changing out pillow covers, scatter rugs, throw blankets and even lamp shades are all that’s needed to give a room a little update with a dramatic impact. Take a look at other areas too – mantels, dining room tables and bookshelves are easy areas to update and make a big statement. And by moving things from room to room, you can create a fresh look with things you already own.

If you’re like me, you never got around to completing your spring cleaning, so this is a great time to do “fall” cleaning before buttoning up the house for the winter. Cleaning windows and window treatments, ceiling fans and light fixtures, and giving the walls, ceilings and floors a once over go a long way to making your home feel fresh and ready for the winter.

Want more home decorating ideas? Check out my 8-week class through the BHBL Continuing Education program. Each class will cover a different subject on decorating and do-it-yourself projects. If you can’t make the classes, you can always find decorating advice, DIY projects and product information on my Facebook page: Locust Grove Designs. And, feel free to call me to talk about your projects!

Summer of (old house) Love

Farmhouse Exterior 2

This has been a productive summer for the DiLorenzo family. We normally spend most of our summer working on projects that we can’t do during the long, long winters. For the last two summers Pete and I stripped and painted (okay, Pete stripped, I painted) our 200 year old farmhouse. They were truly the longest two summers of our lives. Between the two of us, we must have spent 600-700 hours out on that scaffolding. This summer, we need to finish up some trim and work on the porch. I’m trying to talk Pete into screening it in but so far, he won’t commit. And neither of us can bear to get back out there to finish it up. We are both hoping the paint fairy will show up and finish it while we’re sleeping!

This summer has been just as busy but because we’re not working on an all-encompassing project, we’ve had a little more time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We put in several new garden beds and renovated the existing beds. Locust Grove Organics was born out of our wish to share some of the excess out of the garden (and Ben’s wish to purchase his own Wii!).  We’ve had the stand up and running for a few weeks with the little bit of extra food from our gardens. Yesterday was the first day we’d made a sale to non-friend. It was very exciting to watch her out there, looking through everything, carefully choosing her produce. She later emailed me to tell me how much she enjoyed her purchase and how her son loved the fact that we grow our own food. She also blogged about it. It was very exciting to read that someone is happy over what we’ve created with our own hands.

We’ve also been renovating our bathroom. We started renovating three years ago when we put in a new tub, new fixtures and tiled shower surround after our tub sprouted a huge crack.  A year later, we put in a new toilet when got tired of plunging several times a week. But that’s as far as we managed to get. Fast forward three years, we finally picked out our granite top (Pietra Cardosa) and put down a deposit (that was January). In March, Pete laid the gorgeous tile floor after a few mis-starts. In May we contracted a company to make our wide bead board to go on the walls, horizontally. July – all of the bead board is up, all of the walls have drywall but Pete’s in the throes of mudding hell, and the switches are in but there’s no electricity. Our granite was installed but has a big rust stain on it and the backsplash was scratched so it will be replaced this week (hopefully)! We have been in renovation for about 8 years and I can live through a lot of mess and clutter. I can go months with things out of order – then – I reach my breaking point. I’m there. I’m breaking. I. Need. My. Bathroom. Back.

I know that people think my projects should all go smoothly and easily. The truth is, we are a busy family and we work around lots of things to continue renovating our house. We both work, our kids are small and demanding, we each have our own personal hobbies that we don’t want to totally give up (although they certainly take a backseat). And most importantly, we make and stay within our budget – which isn’t always easy when you have good taste! Projects never go as smoothly as they seem to on HGTV. A whole house renovation wrapped up in an hour show? Not likely that it went according to plan and without several glitches along the way. I’m trying to keep in mind that we love this house and this is what we signed up for when we took on an old, dilapidated house (no one to blame but ourselves). In the end, we always love what we do and it’s totally worth it when it’s over. It will be over soon, won’t it?

Do you have a project that you can’t seem to finish? Tell me about it and post your pictures on my Facebook page. Maybe together, we can get each other motivated to get it done.

Transform Your Home in an Afternoon

The warm weather is finally here to stay (for a while anyway) and if you’re anything like me, you’re itching for a change. I know what you’re thinking: “who has the money?” I’m happy to tell you big changes don’t have to cost a lot of money.

My favorite make over tool by far is a can of spray paint. For around $6, you can transform just about anything. Picture frames, tables, light fixtures, and chairs can be transformed in an afternoon. Recently, I created a family photo wall with mismatched frames I’d collected and painted different sheens of black. Seeing my beautiful boys’ faces in very cool frames whenever I walk down the hall (and they’re not crying!) is pure joy.

My second favorite make over tool is burlap. It recently went up to $4 from $3 but even so, it’s a great deal and very versatile. This winter, I used it for several projects: roman shades, reupholstering an antique chair, a lamp shade and covering old picture mats I already had to update artwork. I recently finished a table runner for a client and I used the left over material to stitch up a few a pillows to tie her living room and dining room together. Burlap has a funny smell that can be a little overwhelming so be sure to wash it first (on cold) and air dry before sewing. Plan to lose about 10% when washing.

Last but not least, is vinegar and water in a spray bottle. I know… not nearly as much fun as paint or fabric, but a good old fashioned cleaning can make a world of difference. And it works on just about any surface – floors, windows, tile, stainless steel, countertops, and more – just sparkle. If I weren’t a Mrs. Meyer’s addict, I would surely use vinegar and water for everything.

Are you a DIY junkie too? Check out my Facebook page for inspiration, tips and decorating advice. If you LIKE my page in June, you’ll be entered for a drawing for a gallon of Benjamin Moore paint from Curtis Lumber in Ballston Spa (up to $35 value). Hope to see you there!

How Dirty is Your Carpet?

Oh, all that dirt!

I’m going to start this off with full disclosure – I hate carpet. If I didn’t live in the frigid northeast, I wouldn’t have a single throw rug, area rug or mat anywhere in my house. No, not even in the bathroom.  So you can imagine my dismay when we moved into our circa 1800 farmhouse with circa 1980 carpet. Fortunately, it was only in a few rooms. Unfortunately, one of those rooms was my bedroom. Ohhh, the vomit colored, marble patterned, smelly, wall to wall carpet….truly the thing of this germaphobe’s nightmares.

Wall to wall carpet mostly covered by a huge rug

I did have it cleaned before we moved in, despite the fervent claims of the previous owner’s realtor that they neither had pets nor smoked. It turns out when we moved the old dryer, there were about 100 burned out cigarette butts under it (my nose knows!). I know – who would smoke in their bedroom let alone stuff cigarette butts under the dryer? And yes, the washer and dryer were in the bedroom but that’s another story. And our neighbors told us they had all kinds of pets.  Let’s just say I didn’t spend a lot of time on the floor.

For years we’ve been buying up antique heart of pine flooring when we saw it listed on Craig’s List. To buy from a company who has retrieved and prepared for installation costs $20-$30 a foot. We were able to pick ours up for $1-$4 a foot. One person even just gave us about 100 SF for free! So we have a garage full of wood (no room for anything else) with the intention of someday replacing the floor in our bedroom and living room. Our living room floor isn’t bad – it’s 3/4″ wide, pre-finished strip oak. It looks okay – but compared to the 210 year old heart of pine, wide plank flooring in the rest of the house, it’s quite a disappointment. We’d always planned to redo the living room floor first since we spend most of our time there (and the floor isn’t insulated), but I finally talked my husband into redoing our bedroom first since it was just so gross. And, because our shed roof caved in, we needed a new place to store our gardening tools, bikes, and toys. The wood goes out, the shed stuff goes in – we still can’t park our cars in the garage.

For Mother’s Day, I told my husband not to get me anything. All I wanted was the carpet removed from our bedroom. I have small kids so that wasn’t a completely reasonable (or honest) request. But my husband is a good man, so after I opened the plethera of bird-related items that my 5 year-old picked out at a local country store, he got right to work taking out the carpet. After about 20 minutes, he came out and said, “okay, get it all cleaned up!” It was Mother’s Day, but I didn’t care! I was so happy to get rid of that germ nursery, I happily grabbed my broom and ran right upstairs.

Oh, all that dirt!

When I stepped down into our room (I have to step down because the addition’s floors/ceilings are almost a foot offset from the original house), I wanted to cry. Dirt was everywhere! Not just a little dust here and there but sickening piles of dirt.  Did I mention I’m a germaphobe? The picture on the left is only a small sample of what I swept up off the floor. Thirty years of smoking, pets, skin follicles, dust…ugh. I estimate I swept up about 2 pounds of it by the time I was finished.

I’ve read several articles that discuss the contaminants found in carpet. A lot of them come from wearing shoes in the house – chemicals, pesticides, dirt, pollutants, feces – and some come from things in your house like cleaning chemicals, dust and microscopic bugs. There, I said it – there are bugs in your carpet.  Not to mention if you buy commercially available carpet or rugs, you’re bringing chemicals into your home right from the store. I know I do – I would love to have 100% wool organic carpets but my budget only allows for the hard stuff. I’ve been slowly switching over to all natural cleaning products but I have to admit, I’m having a hard time letting go of Clorox spray. It’s just so satisfying to see the grout stains turn white all by themselves.

We are a strictly no-shoes household – except for those rare occasions when someone gets past my Socks Only sign (or ignores it). I get it, some people feel like they lose their superpowers if they remove their shoes. Even though we don’t wear our shoes in the house, our floors are still dirty. Pollen, dust, food, play dough and more regularly hang out on my floor, sticking to my feet when I walk through the house. I hate to vacuum and mop so as much as I don’t want to admit it, it probably stays there longer than should be allowed.

What about you? Are you shoes off or shoes on? Has any of this changed your mind?

Have a good renovation or home improvement story to share? Post it below or LIKE my Facebook page and let me know about it. If you LIKE my page in the month of June (and you’re local), you’ll be eligible for a gift card to Aubuchon Hardware in Glenville.

 

 

How to Create a Beautiful Outdoor Space

Stick Trellis at Instructables.com

This time of year, we spend more time outdoors, getting as much fresh air and sunlight as possible. So, why let beautiful spaces stop at the back door?

In the past few years, outdoor living spaces have become extensions of our homes rather than separate patios and porches of yesteryear. But don’t let your budget keep you from having an outdoor space you truly

Outdoor "room" with lights-Pottery Barn

love. Define outdoor spaces with beautiful pavers or flagstone, protect pasty winter skin with canopies and umbrella, and mix up dining and conversation areas to create intimate outdoor rooms in which to laze away the short summer days. Add a playful touch with strings of lights to create soft ambient lighting, and complete the stage for your beautiful outdoor space with fresh flowers on tabletops and potted plants at the edges of your seating area.

Nature provides an abundance of interesting, textural and best of all, free design elements. Long, straight sticks can become trellises, fences and obelisks; stones make appealing

Stick Trellis at Instructables.com

objets d’art in the garden; shrubs and plantings provide beautiful backdrops for your perennials and annuals to shine. Additionally, items you already have can find new life – old clay pottery makes beautiful planters and old porch furniture gets a second chance with a can of $6 spray paint.

Now is also a great time to improve your home’s curb appeal (especially important if you plan to list your house for sale). Minor improvements like cleaning windows, painting doors, fixing any damaged areas on your siding or trim, re-staining and re-sealing decks and patios, and repairing concrete and paved walks go a long way to increase your home’s beauty and won’t cost you a bundle.

Don’t forget to bring some of the short-lived, new-found bounty indoors to enjoy. Flowers and shrubs are finally blooming so grab your clippers and fill vases, pitchers and antique Ball jars with bunches of apple blossoms, forsythia and lilacs – get crazy and mix them all together! Place them around your kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms and hallways for a touch of spring in every space.

Fresh cut lilacs - unknown

Have an outdoor project planned for this summer? Check out my Facebook page for inexpensive decorating ideas or post your pictures and ask questions for free advice. Also, stop by my website and check out my portfolio which has photos of both indoor and outdoor projects including a courtyard made from 19th century school house bricks!

My Top 5 Tips for Choosing a Paint Color You Love

Ikea Flower Art

For those of you who haven’t seen my house, we live in a rainbow of rooms. Seriously… my house is a tribute to ROYGBIV (as are the clothes in my closet). There are times when I’m wooed by yet another episode of Candace Tells All or Divine Design and all of those pretty grays, taupes, off-whites and ice blues, but I know I could never feel completely happy in a world devoid of real color. Especially here in upstate New York (the real upstate, not just north of the City) where the winter gray can go on for days and weeks at a time. I must have intense, bold colors to keep me sane.Farmhouse dining

People who come through my house are amazed at the sheer number of different colors as well as my color combinations. I can’t tell you how many people have said, “I would have never thought to use red curtains with blue walls, but it really works!” I don’t think they are just being nice (or sarcastic!) – it really does work. I pulled the combination our of the antique rug my then-boyfriend, now husband bought me one year for Christmas (don’t laugh, it’s what I asked for!). Honestly, blue is not my favorite color (I’m really a warm neutrals kind of gal) but I have to say this is one of my favorite rooms in my house. Surprisingly, this blue has a very warm base and doesn’t feel cold at all.

I am asked all the time how to pick color. I’m sure there is some scientific formula when selecting paint colors, but the truth for me is, I just pick what I like. I know some people are terrified of making a mistake, but there are very few mistakes in life that will cost you less than $60, so my motto is, “go bold.” Whether that bold is taupe, pea green or honeysuckle pink, choose what you love and you won’t be disappointed. Here are my top 5 tips for choosing a paint color you love.

  1. Look around you. What colors do you already have in your home? Now you may still be surrounded by your college Ikea Flower Artdorm furniture and linens, but that’s okay. What’s your favorite thing – the one that makes you happy just looking at it? It could be a throw pillow, a rug, sheets, artwork or even flowers or plants. Use that color or colors as inspiration for selecting your paint color. If you’re lacking inspiration, think about what colors you respond to – are they cool colors or warm? Bold or soft? Do you like different colors in every room (like my ROYGBIV) or do you like your colors to seamlessly flow from room to room?
  2. Don’t buy your paint the first time you go to the store. Take your inspiration color with you and try to match it to the swatches on the shelves. If you see something else you like, that’s okay – bring it home with you. While you’re there, grab a few of those cute little paint pots (they make great containers when the paint runs out) and take them home.
  3. Paint several large pieces of poster board or cardboard with your paint. I like to make 4-6 sample boards and tapeLiving Roomthem around the room so I get a good idea what it will look like against trim, fabric, artwork, rugs and furniture (and how it looks when looking into the adjacent room). It also lets me see the color in various light throughout the day and I can live with it for as long as I want before I make a commitment. And the best part is, I don’t muck up my walls with a bunch of paint splotches (especially important in case I decide not to paint at all).
  4. Don’t go cheap. Cheap paint, rollers and brushes will not save you any money. Laundry Room Featuring Pantone's Color of the Year, Honeysuckle.Neither will not properly prepping your walls and trim. Plan to spend 3/4 of the time for “painting” actually prepping your walls. This includes filling any holes, sanding blemishes, wiping everything down for dust or grease and priming if necessary. Back to the paint – buy the best paint you can afford. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Benjamin Moore Aura paint but I know $60 a gallon isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. That said, it’s worth every penny. It goes on like a dream, cleans up beautifully and touches up completely invisibly. I love, love, love it! I recently used Pittburgh Paints Manor Hall at about $35 a gallon and you know what? I really liked it. I used it in my laundry room so it doesn’t get a ton of abuse but so far soap has wiped right off and is no worse for the wear. There are definitely pricier brands out there (like Farrow & Ball or Fine Paints of Europe) but I honestly don’t know if they are worth the money. I’ll try them some day and let you know (when they give me some free samples). My favorite big box store paint is Valspar (sold at Lowes). I haven’t bought it in a while (I’m a Benjamin Moore convert) but I think it’s right around $30 a gallon. For rollers and brushes, I only used Purdy. I’ve tried Wooster but they are too big for my hands and I couldn’t control it as well to make crisp lines.
  5. Last but not least – don’t freak out if it doesn’t look like you expected. Paint will usually dry a little darker than it goes on. When painting my first son’s nurserynursery Sherwin Williams Anjou Pear, I totally freaked out after the first coat of my bold gold looked neon orange. I almost got back in my car to pick out another color but decided to at least finish and see what happened. It turned out to be one of my favorite colors and I’ve used it in two of my houses. It may take a few days (or weeks) but just live with it for a while before doing anything drastic.

Of course, I know there are many of you out there who are terrified at the thought of picking anything other than off-white or taupe, that’s okay! I can help you. For inspiration, head over to my Portfolio or check out even more projects on my Facebook page. If you have a paint question, go ahead and enter it below and I’ll be sure to get right back to you. Or feel free to contact me directly through my website.

The Effects of Color

Pea Green Walls

I’ve been thinking about paint a lot lately. My house is a collage of colors – some say it’s like walking through ROYGBIV; my in-laws say I like “dark” colors; I think I like “deep” colors. It’s true, I’ve never met a deep (or dark) color I didn’t like and there very few I haven’t tried. In my last house, I used black on the trim in my living room and dining room and it was very striking and dramatic against the tall windows and ceilings. In my current home, I’ve used black by Benjamin Moore on the window sashes but opted to keep the trim my standard Farrow & Ball Off-White.

Pea Green Walls

Lately though, I’ve been feeling burdened by my bold color choices. The pea green that once made me feel so energized just seems dull and dark (it could be that it desperately needs to be repainted). I did recently stitch up some new curtains to lighten it up a bit.  The Benjamin Moore Nantucket Gray that I adored in my quaint, cute bedroom in my old house, just feels dingy in my much larger, less attractive new room (renovation still to come!). And even my custom mixed “Coach Bag Red” in my powder room just feels heavy and cold.

I guess it’s the winter blues or spring fever, but I’m ready for a change. I jokingly added in a previous post that I’ve been watching too much Candace Olsen but I really like how the colors she chooses just seem to flow from one room to the next next. She usually uses soft blues and grays and while I don’t think I could get that ethereal, I am thinking about a major change of color palette (don’t tell my husband).

I do need to repaint my hallway. When I painted 5 years ago, I had one small baby who never touched anything and I could not imagine that I’d ever have children who would drag their hands, toys, or food along the hallway walls so I painted it a flat pea green. Five years later, it looks like a greasy spoon. So it got me thinking, if I’m going to repaint, maybe it’s a good time to change the color. The problem is, when I look at paint samples, I’m always drawn to the colors I already have – except for gray and I know that after about six months (especially come mid-winter) it would be driving me to drink – and repaint!

So, I haven’t decided to repaint my whole house builder’s white, but I may experiment with some of the new colors for Pottery Barn by Benjamin Moore. I am drawn to Hillside Green and Hawthorne Yellow, although I suspect they are strikingly close to my current palette. I will be sure to give the update as soon as I’ve made up my mind – again.

Pottery Barn Swatch Book (photo: Pottery Barn)

Have a paint story to share? Looking for paint suggestions? Leave your comment below or Like me on Facebook and post your pictures.  Contact me through the end of April and I’ll give you a free Spring 2011Pottery Barn color swatch book from Benjamin Moore when you book your color or decorating consultation. And feel free to share my page with someone you love!

 

Small Projects, Big Changes

Big Boy Room with Tractor Mural

I’ve been on a tangent lately. I don’t know if it’s spring fever settling in or what, but suddenly, I want to change everything in my house. I’m even starting to think about repainting my whole house a soft gray (gasp!). I must be watching too much Candace Olsen.  I’ve made a promise to myself to use what I already have (if possible) so I’m not buying and storing and not using more things. Nothing in my house is safe from being re-purposed - lamp shades are getting painted, chairs are getting recovered, furniture is being moved around (much to my husband’s dismay), even picture frames and mats are getting a makeover (more on that later this week)!

This weekend was a really fun project: I turned my baby’s nursery into a bonafide “big boy” room. My little guy is obsessed with anything that has wheels so when we changed him over to a real bed, I bought him a set of gorgeous hand pulled tractor prints from elSage Designs to go with his wheel-themed room.  I did keep one dog painting because I was feeling sentimental about the artwork that I’d painted for my first son, now 5 years old, and the little one loves dogs so he was happy too.

Here is a picture of his room before we moved in. Yes, that IS a turkey butt mounted on the wall, and no, we don’t know why. This room was so bad, we removed the carpet that smelled like a dead animal, closed the door for two years and forgot about it. When I got pregnant with #2, we decided to get to work. We gutted the entire room, refinished the floors and renovated it top to bottom. Here is the FIRST After picture.

After I got his room all setup, it became clear to me that he needed a real big boy room. The yellow walls (Anjour Pear by Benjamin Moore) were really bright and cheery, but had too much of a nursery feel. I had elbow surgery in November so I was stuck waiting it out all winter. A few months ago, my 5 year old picked out a gorgeous blue (Benjamin Moore Nantucket Gray) for our laundry room. Then I got hit by the Honeysuckle Pink bug and decided to throw caution to the wind and painted the laundry room bright pink. For the 5 minutes a day I’m in there, I totally love it and because it’s so small, it’ll take me only an hour to repaint when I am sick of it – probably by the end of the summer. Since I’m on my “use it” kick, I hit my enormous stash of unused and left over paint collection before purchasing anything new. As luck (and my wallet) would have it, I already had the perfect color!

I have files and files of pictures from catalogs and magazines of decorating ideas that I want to use someday. Several years ago, I came across an adorable kid’s room in a Pottery Barn catalog. I pulled out the “Jack’s Room” file and there it was – the PERFECT room for Jack. All full of tractors! In just a few short hours, I transformed his darling baby nursery into something a nearly three year old could be proud of – a very big boy room! He had to camp out on his brother’s floor for a couple of nights while I painted but it was worth the hassle when I saw the smile on his face. Man, was he proud!

Have a great room makeover story to share? Post it below or cruise on over to my Facebook page, tell me your story and post your photos on my wall. Know someone who loves high impact, low cost decorating solutions? Share the love by sending them over here!

 

Spring Mini-Makeover #3 – A Painted Light Shade

Pottery Barn Silk Bulb Cover

This project wasn’t actually in my article in Your Hometowne in April but it has been on my spring to-do list for quite some time-maybe since last spring! I know all of the rooms in my house are supposed to look great, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: they don’t. Now don’t get me wrong, most of them are really cute and pulled together, even if I still need to replace a piece or two from my early twenties.

But I have two rooms – the spare bedroom and my office that leave me utterly confused. It’s mostly a matter of money and not that I don’t know what to do. Both rooms will eventually be gutted and renovated so I don’t want to put too much hard work into them. So, they’ve both become the repository of all things that don’t fit anywhere else; the old floral sofa, the clothes rack-I mean the elliptical, the mismatched furniture. My office doesn’t even have a proper ceiling fixture, just the bare bulb that we put in right after we moved in (the previous owner never put in overhead lights in most rooms).  I tried to dress it up with a silk shade from Pottery Barn, but with 9 1/2 foot ceilings, it just looks strange.

A friend of mine gave me two lamp shades from Pottery Barn because they didn’t coordinate with her decor; it turns out they didn’t coordinate with mine either but I figured I’d use them for something someday.  Here’s the before picture of one of the shades.

I love red so you’d think I’d find somewhere to use them but with the modern detailing in the rope design, they just didn’t work. I spent about a year moving the shades from room to room and finally permanently housed them in the basement (which is a bad idea because our house is on top of an underground river system).

One day, I was trolling decorating sites and I saw a lamp shade that stopped my heart! A gorgeous painted shade in watery but bright orange, yellow and pink poppies. I can’t tell you how much I love poppies but at $235, I decided I didn’t love them that much. Plus as brave as I am with color, I did not have a place for such a statement piece. So I filed the picture away in my mind of projects that I know I could do myself – someday.

About a month ago, I decided to try to turn this red shade into my poppy shade, but in colors that matched my decor. I used a sponge roller and three coats of primer but could not get the red pattern covered. So, back to the basement it went. Yesterday, I was feeling totally sick of winter (I know it’s technically spring but here in NY, it’s still in the 20′s & 30′s at night!) and sick of my mismatched office with bare bulb and decided I would make that shade work whether it wanted to or not!

After sketching a poppy design out on the shade while listening to my 5 year-old and his friend freak out because I was drawing on my lamp shade (you think he’d be used to it by now!), I went to the basement to pick through my huge collection of half used gallons and quarts of paint. I was set that this project would not cost me a dime. I picked out 4 or 5 colors and then a metallic gold for the inside to completely hide the pattern. After the boys went to bed, I quickly did the first coat over the whole piece as well as the inside and went to bed. This morning before I started work, I did a quick repaint on the poppies with bright yellow gloss paint because I was unhappy with the duller yellow satin wall paint I’d used. And them mixed up some bright green for the centers to brighten them up. I know you’re wondering why I used such a dark color for the background. Well, that pattern did not want to go away so I had no choice. I originally thought I’d do a yellow background with blue and green poppies to match my office walls and roman shades but you could see the pattern through the first coat.

After a few touch ups and wrestling with two spray glues and finally tacky glue, I have finished my masterpiece. Look closely at the picture and you will see the bright metallic gold lining. The paint ran a little bit while it dried but I actually like the way it looks. I left the dark teal background, my favorite Cupboard Blue by Old Village Paints, a little rough because I didn’t want it to look “perfect.” I wanted it to have some handmade charm, and I think it does.  I used a really nice, green fabric ribbon from a wedding present I received from Pottery Barn 7 years ago to finish the edges. Now, I have to figure out how to hang it up so I’m off to Lowe’s tomorrow. So, I guess I will be spending at least a dime after all.

 

Keep watching my Facebook page for the final update and all of my decorating tips and tricks. Have a cool project story to share? Post it below or leave a note on my Facebook page.

 

Spring Mini-Makeover #2 – Clean, Clean, Clean

feather duster

I can’t write about my bathroom tile today. I hope you don’t mind. I’ll get back to that later in the week when I figure out if Pete’s plan and fix worked permanently (or for at least another few days). No, today I’m writing about my second spring makeover tip. Cleaning. I know you’re about as excited about cleaning as you are doing your taxes, but this is a very inexpensive way to freshen up your house without a lot of bucks (unless you’re using eco-friendly cleaning products).  I’ve spent the last week cleaning areas of my house that I didn’t even know collected dust (or at least from my 5’2″ view point, I couldn’t really see). Corners of window sashes, tops of trim, ceiling fans, plants, walls and since our whole house is wood (except for my hideous circa 1980 vomit-colored bedroom carpet), I’ve been cleaning under every piece of furniture and even broke out the Swiffer – if you know me, you know how much I hate mopping, which is why no one is allowed to wear shoes in the house.

Today I took down my heavy, red silk dining room curtains, despite it still being in the 30′s here at night and traded them in for my light, breezy, cream-colored linen roll up shades. I can’t tell you how much better I feel, except of the fact that now I can see all the dust on every surface of the room. Oh well, there’s always next week.  I almost got out the vacuum (another chore I hate since I bought The Boss a few years ago) to give the roman shades and upholstery in my living room a once over, but since we’ll probably be burning wood for another two months, I realized there really was no point. I’ll only have to do it again in June so I might as well put that off til then.

This past week, I’ve also been pulling our heavy winter jackets and snow pants off the hooks and washing everything before I put it away for the summer (or in the case of my toddler’s stuff, away for sale next fall!). I know, this is totally wishful thinking; it is only April, after all. But I just don’t know how much more of my puffy coat I can stand. I’ve been wearing it since November – enough is enough. All of our heavy jackets are fresh and clean, and packed away for at least 6 more months, I hope!  I also had a little time this week to go through the boys’ closets and put away some winter clothes and to hang up short sleeved shirts and spring jackets. I had to organize their closets to make way for the new clothes so I got to check one more to-do off my list.  I also FINALLY remembered to change the bulb in the closet that has been burned out for three months. Another check!

I know none of these things seem like big changes and you’re right – they’re not. But having a great house that you love doesn’t always mean going out and buying something new. I already had my cleaning products (albeit the expensive, lovely smelling eco-friendly kind), I used the baby’s old burp clothes, and even got the boys into the action. Gotta love those Pledge Grabit Cleaning Mitts. Don’t worry – I got a nice birthday gift from my in-laws today and I’ll be running out to purchase some gorgeous fabric to make a new set of curtains in the next few weeks which will more than make up for my lack of spending on the cleanup of my dusty old house.  I did just get several trade accounts opened this week and I’m dying to purchase some product samples.  Hmm, what do I need to get?