modern thrifter

modern thrifter

Thrifter & designer. Blogging about life in our MCM home & living on a budget. I also design things with my husband. You can see our work at The Mahoney Studio

I found the perfect sized purse last week at the thrift store. The leather is really nice, it has just the right amount of pockets, and it’s a cross-body style which means no more straps slipping off of my shoulder. The only thing I wasn’t crazy for was the lining. It’s in great shape, it’s just sort of boring. I love purses that have a surprise pattern inside, even if I’m the only one that ever sees it.

I had some metallic fabric paint stashed away from older projects, so I figured it would be easy enough to add a little polka dot print with the eraser of a pencil. 

I flipped the lining out one pocket at a time and just eye-balled the pattern. The dots aren’t perfect, but I’m really pleased with the overall look, and I now have a customized bag that is much more my style.

Getting a new purse is always a motivator to purge the unnecessary contents that I’ve been hauling around, too! Chelsea of Bergen House challenged me to post a photo of the contents of my purse a few weeks ago, but I just couldn’t bring myself to share the broken crayons and cracker crumbs that were lining the bottom of my old bag.

Here’s what’s in my cleaned out version: Keys, wallet, wool gloves (hopefully I won’t need those for much longer), a small tape measure (invaluable tool for thrift shopping), lipstick, and a couple of suckers that the bank teller insists on giving me for the kids. 

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DIY DOLLHOUSE
A few months back I came across a wooden wall shadowbox at the thrift store that I immediately knew would be the perfect solution to Tula’s growing Calico Critter collection. She has loved Calico Critters since she was a toddler and much of her collection was purchased with her own money. It took her nearly a year to save up enough allowance, birthday money, and couch cushion change to buy the camper. 
We gave the house to her a few Christmases ago, but she was constantly taping together boxes in order to make more rooms. This shadowbox is great because not only does it have cubbies for rooms, it has drawers to sort and store all of her critters, clothes, and furniture. The drawers pull completely out giving her eight rooms (and more if she empties the contents of the drawers and flips them on their sides). 

I wasn’t crazy for the original dark wood finish because most of her other furniture is white, so I gave the outside several coats of paint. I switched the wood knobs for some inexpensive white ikea metal ones, though I was wishing I could afford these brass hexagon knobs. I also wanted to add some pattern to the back of each room, and after a failed Mod Podge attempt, I ended up using Super 77 to hold the paper in place. 



We mounted the shelf high enough to tuck the house underneath, and it ended up being a great height for her to sit and play with it at eye level. An added bonus was that the car and camper fit perfectly on top. She finally has everything in one place. 
Of course, making room for the new piece on the wall meant we needed to get rid of a free standing shelf, which led to a trip to Ikea for some wall mounted shelves. 
I’ve been wanting the Ekby Gallo shelves for her room for a long time, so I didn’t need much of an excuse, but we did sell a few older pieces of furniture on Craigslist so that we could use the money toward the new shelves. I’m so happy with the look of the Ekby Gallo shelves—sort of the poor folk’s String shelves—that I’m now plotting other areas of the house that I can install them.

DIY DOLLHOUSE

A few months back I came across a wooden wall shadowbox at the thrift store that I immediately knew would be the perfect solution to Tula’s growing Calico Critter collection. She has loved Calico Critters since she was a toddler and much of her collection was purchased with her own money. It took her nearly a year to save up enough allowance, birthday money, and couch cushion change to buy the camper. 

We gave the house to her a few Christmases ago, but she was constantly taping together boxes in order to make more rooms. This shadowbox is great because not only does it have cubbies for rooms, it has drawers to sort and store all of her critters, clothes, and furniture. The drawers pull completely out giving her eight rooms (and more if she empties the contents of the drawers and flips them on their sides). 

I wasn’t crazy for the original dark wood finish because most of her other furniture is white, so I gave the outside several coats of paint. I switched the wood knobs for some inexpensive white ikea metal ones, though I was wishing I could afford these brass hexagon knobs. I also wanted to add some pattern to the back of each room, and after a failed Mod Podge attempt, I ended up using Super 77 to hold the paper in place. 

We mounted the shelf high enough to tuck the house underneath, and it ended up being a great height for her to sit and play with it at eye level. An added bonus was that the car and camper fit perfectly on top. She finally has everything in one place. 

Of course, making room for the new piece on the wall meant we needed to get rid of a free standing shelf, which led to a trip to Ikea for some wall mounted shelves. 

I’ve been wanting the Ekby Gallo shelves for her room for a long time, so I didn’t need much of an excuse, but we did sell a few older pieces of furniture on Craigslist so that we could use the money toward the new shelves. I’m so happy with the look of the Ekby Gallo shelves—sort of the poor folk’s String shelves—that I’m now plotting other areas of the house that I can install them.

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TEN MINUTE WREATH PROJECT
Things have been unusually calm this Christmas season so far. I think it’s mostly due to the fact that I’m setting the bar super low for holiday craft projects. In past years I would have started nearly a dozen random projects by now. 
Last year, for example, I carved a linoleum block to print my own wrapping paper, made three different types of ornaments, sewed A-frame tents for each of the kids, baked ten dozen cookies for a school fund-raiser, burned myself out and ended up with the flu two days before Christmas.
I didn’t intentionally limit myself this year, I simply haven’t felt as inspired or energetic. The only real project I’ve done so far has been this wreath that took all of ten minutes. I picked up the metal frame at the thrift store for $2, clipped some holly from a tree in front of our house, and tied on a simple bow from a spool of thrifted ribbon. Done. 

Fewer projects has meant more time to enjoy my family and I get to be a more pleasant person to be around this Christmas. 

TEN MINUTE WREATH PROJECT

Things have been unusually calm this Christmas season so far. I think it’s mostly due to the fact that I’m setting the bar super low for holiday craft projects. In past years I would have started nearly a dozen random projects by now. 

Last year, for example, I carved a linoleum block to print my own wrapping paper, made three different types of ornaments, sewed A-frame tents for each of the kids, baked ten dozen cookies for a school fund-raiser, burned myself out and ended up with the flu two days before Christmas.

I didn’t intentionally limit myself this year, I simply haven’t felt as inspired or energetic. The only real project I’ve done so far has been this wreath that took all of ten minutes. I picked up the metal frame at the thrift store for $2, clipped some holly from a tree in front of our house, and tied on a simple bow from a spool of thrifted ribbon. Done. 

Fewer projects has meant more time to enjoy my family and I get to be a more pleasant person to be around this Christmas. 

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TURTLE SHELL HIDEOUT
You may have already seen some of the photos of the turtle costumes I made for Halloween this year, but you might not know the back story yet. Tula had her heart set on being a Powerpuff Girl for about six months. Then one day in the car she said, “Mom, I think I’d rather be a turtle for Halloween so that I can hide in my shell and eat candy.” 
Brilliant! How could I say no to such a fantastic idea? I only wish I would have thought of it when I was a kid. After hearing her plan, Alden quickly abandoned his costume idea and wanted his own turtle shell candy hideout. 
I love a good challenge when it comes to costumes—not in regards to sewing, but more in the cardboard construction arena. After spending so much time making their turtle costumes though, I was sort of burned out on them, and didn’t really want to have to edit the photos to show how they were created. But then last week I received the news that I had won third place in Seattle Goodwill’s annual costume contest! 
So, $100 Goodwill gift card to me, and a behind the scenes costume post for you. Nothing like a little cash to motivate me.

I had originally thought of constructing the shells out of paper mache, but I really loathe the mess and the lengthy dry time, so I instead wove long strips of cardboard into the domed shape and secured each joint with a generous amount of hot glue.

The challenge was to make the shells big enough that the kids could actually fit all the way inside. After getting the overall size and structure right, I went back and added more cardboard strips for strength.

I didn’t have a pattern for the fleece suits, I just based them loosely on some of the kids’ sweatshirts and pants. I didn’t really get the fit right on Alden’s pants, and if you could see them without the shirt, you’d think they were something right out of Three’s Company. 
The tummies of the shells were covered with fleece and I wrapped the tops with some vinyl I picked up in the clearance section at the fabric store. Again, there was copious amounts of hot glue used, and several burned fingertips.
After the shells were covered, I used painters tape to mask off a hexagonal pattern which I then painted with gold acrylic paint.

There are a few details that are hard to see in the photos, and I have no plans to drag these back out to take more pictures, so I’ll do my best to describe them. The sleeves had circles (lined with interfacing for structure) sewn onto the ends to close them so that they would look more like actual turtle feet. The seams were cut just above the wrists so that the kids could pop their hands out and hold their treat bags. I also stitched boning at the bottoms of the pant legs to keep them in nice big hoops around their shoes. 
The openings of the shell were big enough that the kids could slip them on and off, which helped a lot while we were trick-or-treating. I put straps inside at the shoulders, too, which made them a little more comfortable to wear.
The kids were really hoping to keep their costumes, but there is nowhere to store two giant turtle shells. So, I’m thinking about posting them on Craigslist. My materials weren’t that expensive this year, but it would be nice to recoup the cost, and it would be fun to share these with other kids.
I have to say, between the $100 gift card, and the chance to see my kids live out their dream of gorging on chocolate while hiding in a turtle shell, it was all totally worth it.

TURTLE SHELL HIDEOUT

You may have already seen some of the photos of the turtle costumes I made for Halloween this year, but you might not know the back story yet. Tula had her heart set on being a Powerpuff Girl for about six months. Then one day in the car she said, “Mom, I think I’d rather be a turtle for Halloween so that I can hide in my shell and eat candy.” 

Brilliant! How could I say no to such a fantastic idea? I only wish I would have thought of it when I was a kid. After hearing her plan, Alden quickly abandoned his costume idea and wanted his own turtle shell candy hideout. 

I love a good challenge when it comes to costumes—not in regards to sewing, but more in the cardboard construction arena. After spending so much time making their turtle costumes though, I was sort of burned out on them, and didn’t really want to have to edit the photos to show how they were created. But then last week I received the news that I had won third place in Seattle Goodwill’s annual costume contest! 

So, $100 Goodwill gift card to me, and a behind the scenes costume post for you. Nothing like a little cash to motivate me.

I had originally thought of constructing the shells out of paper mache, but I really loathe the mess and the lengthy dry time, so I instead wove long strips of cardboard into the domed shape and secured each joint with a generous amount of hot glue.

The challenge was to make the shells big enough that the kids could actually fit all the way inside. After getting the overall size and structure right, I went back and added more cardboard strips for strength.

I didn’t have a pattern for the fleece suits, I just based them loosely on some of the kids’ sweatshirts and pants. I didn’t really get the fit right on Alden’s pants, and if you could see them without the shirt, you’d think they were something right out of Three’s Company. 

The tummies of the shells were covered with fleece and I wrapped the tops with some vinyl I picked up in the clearance section at the fabric store. Again, there was copious amounts of hot glue used, and several burned fingertips.

After the shells were covered, I used painters tape to mask off a hexagonal pattern which I then painted with gold acrylic paint.

There are a few details that are hard to see in the photos, and I have no plans to drag these back out to take more pictures, so I’ll do my best to describe them. The sleeves had circles (lined with interfacing for structure) sewn onto the ends to close them so that they would look more like actual turtle feet. The seams were cut just above the wrists so that the kids could pop their hands out and hold their treat bags. I also stitched boning at the bottoms of the pant legs to keep them in nice big hoops around their shoes. 

The openings of the shell were big enough that the kids could slip them on and off, which helped a lot while we were trick-or-treating. I put straps inside at the shoulders, too, which made them a little more comfortable to wear.

The kids were really hoping to keep their costumes, but there is nowhere to store two giant turtle shells. So, I’m thinking about posting them on Craigslist. My materials weren’t that expensive this year, but it would be nice to recoup the cost, and it would be fun to share these with other kids.

I have to say, between the $100 gift card, and the chance to see my kids live out their dream of gorging on chocolate while hiding in a turtle shell, it was all totally worth it.

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[ QUICK SLIPCOVER ]
It was never my intention to keep a bean bag in the living room, but after ditching the coffee table, we were temporarily keeping one of the Sumo footstools near the couch. You know, just for a couple of days, then it would join the pile downstairs somewhere. It turns out, it’s perfect for the living room—super comfortable for lounging, an extra seat when we have guests, and perfect tea party size for dolls and stuffed animals. 
The problem was the fabric. The original cover is durable navy blue nylon, and I just kept thinking “rolled up sleeping bag.” I had previously seen these amazing wool stools, so I thought maybe I could create a slipcover in a fabric that would be a little more appropriate in the room.
Wool is great, but more than I wanted to spend at the time, so I opted for a gray chambray (it looks bluer in the photos than it really is). I wanted the chambray to be a little stiffer to hold the shape better, so I used fusible interfacing for more structure. 
I’m also the type of seamstress (can I really even call myself that?) that avoids zippers at all cost, so I figured I could make a sort of drawstring bag shape that would be long enough to cinch up underneath. 
The whole project took less than an hour. I didn’t use a pattern, and in the end, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Since I’m kind of the wing-it type, I can’t say that my directions will be great, but if you want to try to make something like this for yourself, here’s the basic steps:
1. After measuring the circumference and height of the footstool, cut two pieces of fabric—a circle for the top and a rectangle for the side. Make sure to add enough extra height to the side piece to wrap underneath the footstool.
2. Fold up the bottom edge on the longest side of the rectangle and sew, leaving an opening large enough for your drawstring to slide easily.
3. Sew the short ends of the rectangle together making sure to stop before the drawstring section.
4. pin and sew the circle piece of fabric to the side piece.
5. Attach a large safety pin to one end of your drawstring and guide it through the opening. 
That’s pretty much it. Sorry for really vague and terrible directions. Maybe just keep a stitch-ripper nearby. That’s how I usually figure out my sewing projects.
Of couse, most people don’t have a pile of bean bags in their house to recover, so here are much better instructions for creating a bean bag pouf from scratch.

[ QUICK SLIPCOVER ]

It was never my intention to keep a bean bag in the living room, but after ditching the coffee table, we were temporarily keeping one of the Sumo footstools near the couch. You know, just for a couple of days, then it would join the pile downstairs somewhere. It turns out, it’s perfect for the living room—super comfortable for lounging, an extra seat when we have guests, and perfect tea party size for dolls and stuffed animals. 

The problem was the fabric. The original cover is durable navy blue nylon, and I just kept thinking “rolled up sleeping bag.” I had previously seen these amazing wool stools, so I thought maybe I could create a slipcover in a fabric that would be a little more appropriate in the room.

Wool is great, but more than I wanted to spend at the time, so I opted for a gray chambray (it looks bluer in the photos than it really is). I wanted the chambray to be a little stiffer to hold the shape better, so I used fusible interfacing for more structure. 

I’m also the type of seamstress (can I really even call myself that?) that avoids zippers at all cost, so I figured I could make a sort of drawstring bag shape that would be long enough to cinch up underneath. 

The whole project took less than an hour. I didn’t use a pattern, and in the end, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Since I’m kind of the wing-it type, I can’t say that my directions will be great, but if you want to try to make something like this for yourself, here’s the basic steps:

1. After measuring the circumference and height of the footstool, cut two pieces of fabric—a circle for the top and a rectangle for the side. Make sure to add enough extra height to the side piece to wrap underneath the footstool.

2. Fold up the bottom edge on the longest side of the rectangle and sew, leaving an opening large enough for your drawstring to slide easily.

3. Sew the short ends of the rectangle together making sure to stop before the drawstring section.

4. pin and sew the circle piece of fabric to the side piece.

5. Attach a large safety pin to one end of your drawstring and guide it through the opening. 

That’s pretty much it. Sorry for really vague and terrible directions. Maybe just keep a stitch-ripper nearby. That’s how I usually figure out my sewing projects.

Of couse, most people don’t have a pile of bean bags in their house to recover, so here are much better instructions for creating a bean bag pouf from scratch.

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[ LIVING ROOM UPDATES ]
Ever since we saw the first few “fauxdenzas” pop up in the blogosphere (specifically the ones on The Brick House, and Door Sixteen), we’ve been plotting one of our own. Hosting guests for Christmas seemed like good motivation to make a few improvements to the living room. 

We bought three 30” x 24” Applad/Akurum cabinets from ikea, and picked up some thick birch plywood from a Kerf warehouse sale for under $20. We were really hoping to get some of their walnut plywood, but there weren’t any pieces long enough for the top. For the price, I’m happy to settle for the birch, though if we ever stumble across a long plank of the walnut, we’ll probably make a swap.

The storage capacity of these cabinets is fantastic. We currently have the kid’s board games, some books, toys, and our record player stored away inside. I’m still figuring out what to put on the top, but here is my quick attempt to pull something together with the stuff I already had.

The vintage Anri Form tray was a Christmas gift from my father-in-law. I think it needs a few taller things inside, but for now, it’s a happy new home for my miniature wood dishes that had been residing on top of my refrigerator. I also added these hand-cut crystal candle holders that I’ve been storing in the cupboard. 

We still need to patch up the back wall where the wood panels previously were, and hang some art. Oh, and I still hate the rug that’s in this space. Since everything that I like is around the $2000–$3000 price range, I’m thinking of ordering this super cheap one from Urban Outfitters until I either win the lottery, or some company starts selling huge beautiful rugs for under a grand.

[ LIVING ROOM UPDATES ]

Ever since we saw the first few “fauxdenzas” pop up in the blogosphere (specifically the ones on The Brick House, and Door Sixteen), we’ve been plotting one of our own. Hosting guests for Christmas seemed like good motivation to make a few improvements to the living room. 

image

We bought three 30” x 24” Applad/Akurum cabinets from ikea, and picked up some thick birch plywood from a Kerf warehouse sale for under $20. We were really hoping to get some of their walnut plywood, but there weren’t any pieces long enough for the top. For the price, I’m happy to settle for the birch, though if we ever stumble across a long plank of the walnut, we’ll probably make a swap.

image

The storage capacity of these cabinets is fantastic. We currently have the kid’s board games, some books, toys, and our record player stored away inside. I’m still figuring out what to put on the top, but here is my quick attempt to pull something together with the stuff I already had.

image

The vintage Anri Form tray was a Christmas gift from my father-in-law. I think it needs a few taller things inside, but for now, it’s a happy new home for my miniature wood dishes that had been residing on top of my refrigerator. I also added these hand-cut crystal candle holders that I’ve been storing in the cupboard. 

image

We still need to patch up the back wall where the wood panels previously were, and hang some art. Oh, and I still hate the rug that’s in this space. Since everything that I like is around the $2000–$3000 price range, I’m thinking of ordering this super cheap one from Urban Outfitters until I either win the lottery, or some company starts selling huge beautiful rugs for under a grand.

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[ SCRAP FABRIC PILLOWS ]
I have a lot of odds and ends fabric scraps stashed away, so when the sudden urge to swap out my pillow covers hit, I was prepared. I always use the envelope method for sewing pillow covers because it’s quick and pretty much fool-proof. This time I added a little more patchwork to the front to make them a little fancier, but the total sewing time for both pillows was still under an hour. 

Patrick bought me a wool blanket from MacAusland Woolen Mill as a birthday gift back in June. I’ve been trying to score a Hudson Bay blanket from thrifts or estate sale for years, but I haven’t had any luck, so I’m thrilled to finally have this one instead. I wanted to add a little more color, so I made a new pillow cover for the bedroom, too. 

Now, time to switch gears from sewing pillows to Halloween costumes!

[ SCRAP FABRIC PILLOWS ]

I have a lot of odds and ends fabric scraps stashed away, so when the sudden urge to swap out my pillow covers hit, I was prepared. I always use the envelope method for sewing pillow covers because it’s quick and pretty much fool-proof. This time I added a little more patchwork to the front to make them a little fancier, but the total sewing time for both pillows was still under an hour. 

Patrick bought me a wool blanket from MacAusland Woolen Mill as a birthday gift back in June. I’ve been trying to score a Hudson Bay blanket from thrifts or estate sale for years, but I haven’t had any luck, so I’m thrilled to finally have this one instead. I wanted to add a little more color, so I made a new pillow cover for the bedroom, too. 

Now, time to switch gears from sewing pillows to Halloween costumes!

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[ ART ROOM PROGRESS]

Improvements have been slow lately on the house, but on the upside, we’ve been having a lot of fun. We just returned from two weeks in Montana that we’re packed full of family, sun, camping, and swimming pools. 

Now that we’re back, I’ve been starting to hear a lot of “I’m bored” complaints from the kids, since they don’t have all of their cousins to play with. Good thing we’ve made a little progress on our art room. Once they get started on a project, they are easily enraptured for long stretches of time.

We still have lots to do in this room, but here’s what we’ve come up with so far: 



Art Table - We’ve been hanging on to this old table since my first apartment because it folds up so small, but it’s solid wood, and really heavy. It has a bad paint job from my early 20s, so I don’t really care if it gets marked up with sharpies and paint. The thrifted chairs were previously used in the dining room before we replaced them with these.

With all of the windows, this spot gets pretty good natural light, and eventually I’d like to hang a roll of seamless backdrop material from the ceiling like this, so I can pul it down when I need to do product photography for our graphic design portfolio.

Map Shelves - These are a new exciting find that we picked them up from the UW Surplus store for $15. I’ve been wanting flat files for such a long time, but they are really expensive. Even though these don’t have drawers like I originally wanted, they are incredibly deep, and the height of them stacked (we bought two units) makes a perfect counter height for a standing work space. 

Work Bench - I’ve been meaning to share this for a long time, and eventually I’ll get some better photos. We bought this at an estate sale last winter. It has two built in vice grips, a shelf, drawers, and a cabinet. Since we don’t have a garage, and our carport isn’t big enough for a work space, this sturdy but compact work bench has already been put to good use.

We also still have these shelves with my sewing cabinet, though they need a bit of reorganizing. And I’ve been using some vintage suitcases to store all of my fabric.

There is still plenty to finish in the room—ripping out the carpet, adding some shelving and bins to hold all of the various art supplies, and installing some better task lighting. For now, though, the room is serving the exact purpose we had in mind—space to be creative and messy. 

[ ART ROOM PROGRESS]

Improvements have been slow lately on the house, but on the upside, we’ve been having a lot of fun. We just returned from two weeks in Montana that we’re packed full of family, sun, camping, and swimming pools. 

Now that we’re back, I’ve been starting to hear a lot of “I’m bored” complaints from the kids, since they don’t have all of their cousins to play with. Good thing we’ve made a little progress on our art room. Once they get started on a project, they are easily enraptured for long stretches of time.

We still have lots to do in this room, but here’s what we’ve come up with so far: 

Art Table - We’ve been hanging on to this old table since my first apartment because it folds up so small, but it’s solid wood, and really heavy. It has a bad paint job from my early 20s, so I don’t really care if it gets marked up with sharpies and paint. The thrifted chairs were previously used in the dining room before we replaced them with these.

With all of the windows, this spot gets pretty good natural light, and eventually I’d like to hang a roll of seamless backdrop material from the ceiling like this, so I can pul it down when I need to do product photography for our graphic design portfolio.

Map Shelves - These are a new exciting find that we picked them up from the UW Surplus store for $15. I’ve been wanting flat files for such a long time, but they are really expensive. Even though these don’t have drawers like I originally wanted, they are incredibly deep, and the height of them stacked (we bought two units) makes a perfect counter height for a standing work space. 

Work Bench - I’ve been meaning to share this for a long time, and eventually I’ll get some better photos. We bought this at an estate sale last winter. It has two built in vice grips, a shelf, drawers, and a cabinet. Since we don’t have a garage, and our carport isn’t big enough for a work space, this sturdy but compact work bench has already been put to good use.

We also still have these shelves with my sewing cabinet, though they need a bit of reorganizing. And I’ve been using some vintage suitcases to store all of my fabric.

There is still plenty to finish in the room—ripping out the carpet, adding some shelving and bins to hold all of the various art supplies, and installing some better task lighting. For now, though, the room is serving the exact purpose we had in mind—space to be creative and messy. 

Comments
[ SUMMER LIST ]
It’s that time of year again where I get antsy to start some big(ger) home improvement projects. The days are finally getting long enough to tackle outdoor jobs, and the reprieve from the overcast skies brings newfound motivation.
Unfortunately there are a few things from last year’s list that didn’t get completed, so they are getting carried over to this summer. Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish:
1. Fence - we really wanted to have this done by now, but last summer we did an unusual amount of travel which ate up a ton of our savings. I’ve been pinning a bunch of fence pictures, and we’re looking into some alternative materials like polycarbonate and plexiglass that we could incorporate to let in more light while still preserving privacy.
2. Window Trim - All of the interior window trim needs to be sanded and primed, then we plan to paint it black to match the ceiling beams and doors. 
3. Bedroom Floors - We were able to paint all of the floors in the main living space last summer, but we didn’t finish the bedrooms or bathrooms. We’re now debating whether we should paint them white like we originally planned, or look into carpeting them (not the bathrooms, of course). 
4. Master Bedroom Walls - We have so many black closet doors in our bedroom and I’ve come to the conclusion that painting the small areas of wall around them black will simplify the room. I won’t do this until the floors are lighter, and I’d never do this in any of the other rooms in the house, but I think the dark moody walls will look nice in our bedroom.
5. Kitchen Cabinets - This is another carry-over from last summer, but in my defense, I did predict last year that it would get bumped. I’ve given up trying to fix the upper cabinets, since we plan on ripping them out anyway. I had hoped to do the open shelves this summer, but I think the fence will take priority in our budget.
So, I’m hoping to at least address the lower cabinets. They need to be sanded and repainted because they were never primed and all of the paint is peeling off of them. I also plan to replace the hardware. The current handles are hinged and so the noise of the metal clanging on itself every time a cupboard is opened or closed gets really annoying. Also, it’s a horrible design for a kitchen—there is a spot at the top that catches crumbs that is impossible to clean. When the handle is lifted, the space becomes completely enclosed and the crumbs just get compacted even tighter into the crack. It makes me crazy. I think I’ll end up going with something like this instead.
Everyone is confident I can get it all done, right? Yeah, I’m not. But, it’s good to write down goals so that next year I can look back at the list and feel crappy about all of the things that didn’t get done. Sometimes, though, it’s worth trading a finished list for a few extra days playing at the beach and eating ice cream.

[ SUMMER LIST ]

It’s that time of year again where I get antsy to start some big(ger) home improvement projects. The days are finally getting long enough to tackle outdoor jobs, and the reprieve from the overcast skies brings newfound motivation.

Unfortunately there are a few things from last year’s list that didn’t get completed, so they are getting carried over to this summer. Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish:

1. Fence - we really wanted to have this done by now, but last summer we did an unusual amount of travel which ate up a ton of our savings. I’ve been pinning a bunch of fence pictures, and we’re looking into some alternative materials like polycarbonate and plexiglass that we could incorporate to let in more light while still preserving privacy.

2. Window Trim - All of the interior window trim needs to be sanded and primed, then we plan to paint it black to match the ceiling beams and doors. 

3. Bedroom Floors - We were able to paint all of the floors in the main living space last summer, but we didn’t finish the bedrooms or bathrooms. We’re now debating whether we should paint them white like we originally planned, or look into carpeting them (not the bathrooms, of course). 

4. Master Bedroom Walls - We have so many black closet doors in our bedroom and I’ve come to the conclusion that painting the small areas of wall around them black will simplify the room. I won’t do this until the floors are lighter, and I’d never do this in any of the other rooms in the house, but I think the dark moody walls will look nice in our bedroom.

5. Kitchen Cabinets - This is another carry-over from last summer, but in my defense, I did predict last year that it would get bumped. I’ve given up trying to fix the upper cabinets, since we plan on ripping them out anyway. I had hoped to do the open shelves this summer, but I think the fence will take priority in our budget.

So, I’m hoping to at least address the lower cabinets. They need to be sanded and repainted because they were never primed and all of the paint is peeling off of them. I also plan to replace the hardware. The current handles are hinged and so the noise of the metal clanging on itself every time a cupboard is opened or closed gets really annoying. Also, it’s a horrible design for a kitchen—there is a spot at the top that catches crumbs that is impossible to clean. When the handle is lifted, the space becomes completely enclosed and the crumbs just get compacted even tighter into the crack. It makes me crazy. I think I’ll end up going with something like this instead.

Everyone is confident I can get it all done, right? Yeah, I’m not. But, it’s good to write down goals so that next year I can look back at the list and feel crappy about all of the things that didn’t get done. Sometimes, though, it’s worth trading a finished list for a few extra days playing at the beach and eating ice cream.

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[ STAIRWELL LIGHTING ]
One by one it seems as though the ikea light fixtures that the previous owner had installed in our house have failed. First it was the wire track lighting in the bathrooms and kitchen, then each of the upstairs bedroom track lights went bad. We had planned to replace them all for aesthetic reasons anyway, but the the fact that they were shorting out made me nervous enough that I didn’t really want to wait for the transformer on the stairwell track light to go bad before getting rid of it.
The tricky thing about swapping the light fixture was that the junction box was located at the bottom of the stairs. You can see it here in this photo:

The previous owners then ran the wires up the wall and to the ceiling at the top of the stairwell. 

Our plan was to tap into the wiring at the switch, located at the top of the stairs, and run a new wire up inside the wall to the ceiling. Since there is no gap between the tongue and groove ceilings and the roof, metal raceway would need to be run along the ceiling to carry the wires out to the new pendant.
Here’s the great part—we had seen the David Trubridge wood pendants in several magazines, but knew they were out of our price range. But remember me mentioning a great find at the Velocity sale? I happily scooped this Trubridge Floral pendant for half-price right after walking through the door.
Patrick prefers the Coral version to the Floral one, but for the price, he’s not complaining. Personally, I don’t mind adding a bit of floral to the house. There aren’t that many things in our decor that are overtly feminine, and I think this is still a far cry from doilies and ruffled bedskirts. 

I’m guessing there are safer ways to reach the ceiling in a stairwell, but the project was completed with no major incidents.

One of my favorite things about the fixture is the beautiful shadows it casts on the walls. Also, the exposed bulb has a nice soft glow and doesn’t glare. The mood at the top of the stairs is exactly what I was hoping for, but we knew we’d need a bit more light at the bottom, so we opted for a single can light where the old fixture had been.

There are lots of other plans for the stairwell—next up will be the window trim—but it already feels so much more simple and pretty.

[ STAIRWELL LIGHTING ]

One by one it seems as though the ikea light fixtures that the previous owner had installed in our house have failed. First it was the wire track lighting in the bathrooms and kitchen, then each of the upstairs bedroom track lights went bad. We had planned to replace them all for aesthetic reasons anyway, but the the fact that they were shorting out made me nervous enough that I didn’t really want to wait for the transformer on the stairwell track light to go bad before getting rid of it.

The tricky thing about swapping the light fixture was that the junction box was located at the bottom of the stairs. You can see it here in this photo:

The previous owners then ran the wires up the wall and to the ceiling at the top of the stairwell. 

Our plan was to tap into the wiring at the switch, located at the top of the stairs, and run a new wire up inside the wall to the ceiling. Since there is no gap between the tongue and groove ceilings and the roof, metal raceway would need to be run along the ceiling to carry the wires out to the new pendant.

Here’s the great part—we had seen the David Trubridge wood pendants in several magazines, but knew they were out of our price range. But remember me mentioning a great find at the Velocity sale? I happily scooped this Trubridge Floral pendant for half-price right after walking through the door.

Patrick prefers the Coral version to the Floral one, but for the price, he’s not complaining. Personally, I don’t mind adding a bit of floral to the house. There aren’t that many things in our decor that are overtly feminine, and I think this is still a far cry from doilies and ruffled bedskirts. 

I’m guessing there are safer ways to reach the ceiling in a stairwell, but the project was completed with no major incidents.

One of my favorite things about the fixture is the beautiful shadows it casts on the walls. Also, the exposed bulb has a nice soft glow and doesn’t glare. The mood at the top of the stairs is exactly what I was hoping for, but we knew we’d need a bit more light at the bottom, so we opted for a single can light where the old fixture had been.

There are lots of other plans for the stairwell—next up will be the window trim—but it already feels so much more simple and pretty.

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