Blog Header

In: Home Decor

April 10, 2012

Welcome Back!

We did it! One day before our house was populated by some German visitors we officially finished the new guest bedroom in the basement and I have to say that it turned out great. We have been working on this for approximately six weeks and it was a real joint effort in the Tran house. Without my handyman I – the surface pretty maker – could not have done such serious handy work as installing lights and new drywall. Looking back, we actually accomplished a lot more than I dared to hope for in my original post about the basement plan. Here is the gist of it.

Just a reminder – this was the colorful craziness we had bought into a year ago:

And this is the new toned down guest oasis:

On our way to the final result we encountered many tedious tasks, such as removing wall paper with lots of water, vinegar, and persistant scraping.

Priming the walls with No-VOC primer because there is not much opportunity for ventilation down there and we did not quite want the baby to be born a natural paint addict.

Splitting the room’s lighting from the overall basement circuit and installing two new recessed lights instead of the one dim boob light.

For the sake of installing the new light switch in the room we also decided to take down the bead board paneling on one of the walls which we had never quite understood why it was there.

After taking it down we realized why it was there: Because the previous owners installed the wall framing flush with an existing corner and putting up drywall would have made for an ugly overlapping edge.

Which left us with the exact same problem – how were we gonna accomplish a smooth wall with drywall. Our solution: Using extra thin drywall and extend it to the part around the door over the existing drywall. Not exactly the Holmes-on-Homes way to do it, but good enough.

 

The trim and doors in this room were wearing many different shades of yellowed old white, so they got a fresh white coat as well .

I didn’t even have to bother with taping off the door hardware because on my mission to de-brassify this house and bringing it entirely to the 20th century I also switched out all the door knobs and hinges for brushed nickel ones.

On the final stretch I got sick and my awesome hubby had to paint the room all by himself with the perfect shade of light grey that I had found on the oops-paint rack at Lowes for $5 (and even No-VOC!). It’s amazing what a difference No-VOC paint makes. It might take an additional coat, but the smell during application is minimal and the next day the room is absolutely smell free.

It is actually a little lighter than shown in this photo (more like what you see next to the door above):

Finally, we cleaned the carpet and filled the room with all the existing stuff from the old guest room, plus a yard sale chair and a free dresser.

We are gonna hang some more framed postcards to fill the back wall, add a bookshelf and wall art to the reading corner,  and eventually also have to find a prettier solution for the electric box and modem corner:

But so far it is the most finished bedroom in our house and I am seriously worried that I won’t ever see my husband in our own bedroom again.

November 28, 2011

It’s beginning …

… to look a lot like Christmas in our home.

Who would have guessed that I have been secretly crafting Christmas decorations like a maniac in the past few weeks? Well, everybody who knows me, I guess. Since we have never had a Christmas in our own home before and were constantly on the move in the past years, we are starting pretty much from zero regarding holiday items. Getting the whole house into Christmas spirit could have easily gotten an expensive maneuver.

So I broke out my hot glue gun, some Michaels coupons, collected natural (free) goods outside, used some existing non-holiday items, and went on a thrift shopping spree. Considering the materials that I was able to gather for cheap and my love for mother nature I came up with a snow-white-silver-glistening-walking-through-the-forest theme for my very first Christmas collection. Think snowflakes, white, wool, twine, twigs, trees, silver, pine cones, … I’m gonna call it Winterwanderland. See here what I whipped up for under $40.

Paper snowflakes at the kitchen bay window. I was planning on cutting these out myself using this method, but then I found a bag of wooden tree ornaments at my new favorite thrift store (2nd Ave) that I wanted anyway for $1.90 and these paper snowflakes were randomly packed in the same bag. So they were basically free and saved me an evening of paper cutting. Milo loves looking at them when he eats his breakfast, but they look even better from the outside where the light hits them.

Mirror Advent calendar. This silver advent calendar with mirror doors was a thrift store find some time in spring for $3. Good thing I am looking forward to Christmas all year, so I bought it back then and now it fits perfectly in with the other decor. Oh, I added those trees on top, in case you were wondering. $1 from the Dollar Store. I am having a little bit of a hard time finding small enough items to put in there for Milo that are not chocolate treats (any suggestions?), so we might have to upgrade to a bigger, home made calendar next year. And then use this one for chocolates for Linc and me.

For the cone trees I got some papermache cones for $4 total, wrapped them with twine that I had from a previous project, added a silver ball (leftovers from my Advent wreath), and some silver glitter paint.

In the dining room this Advent wreath is making a statement as a modern version of the traditional Advent wreath.

This was probably the most expensive item of my collection. Even with using coupons and sales, I probably spent around $15 dollars for all assorted natural ornaments, filler balls, and candles. Unfortunately I forgot to snap photos of the process, but here is approximately how it goes: Get a flat wreath base. I found a wooden ring at Michaels, but you could probably even cut a ring out of thick cardboard. Place your candles in the middle to make sure they have enough space. Start with hot-glueing down the bigger ornaments. Then start filling in gaps with medium size pieces, then really small ones. You want to cover all of the base and achieve an even ring.

For our current table setting I just flipped over the colorful place mats that were previously seen here. How convenient that their back side perfectly matches the natural color scheme.

On the other side of the dining room we have this whole paying bills in the woods scene going on:

On the desk I arranged some pine cones (found for $0 in my backyard) in a silver vase ($5) to hold current letters (aka bills). The star was on sale for $4.50 at Joanns and temporarily replaces my dry-erase board. I swapped out the desk cover with a piece of burlap (this piece is just a fraction of the 3 yards I got for $5 and will use for other projects).

On the ledge I arranged the old candle sticks that were spray-painted white together with the dining room chandelier a few weeks ago. I made the sweater vase from a leftover sleeve of my wreath project and a vase from our wedding (cylindric glass vase, hot-glue sweater around it. Done). The pine is from a downed branch behind our house.

Similar woodsy stuff is arranged on the other ledge in the living room. Some more pine, some more pre-existing candle sticks, and other assorted items.

The big candle and the twig vase (currently housing a tea light) were made with my – you guessed it – hot glue gun. Milo had great fun helping me find sticks. Although he was done after finding one – actually two – one for each hand. But he learned a new word and we spent a good hour outside, so it was officially the first time Milo was crafting with me.

Then I just had to snip them to size and glue them around the straight glass. To use up the very rest of my twine, I wrapped them up with a small bow.

Moving over to the center of the living room, we have this entertainment arrangement providing snacks and candle light to our guests. The thrifted multi-purpose tray makes it removable for play action. The silver chalice is holding little chocolate treats.

Speaking of silver. These two shiny items were one of the first purchases that Linc and I made together for our first rental home. We found them at a thrift store for about $6 with just a little bit of patina. Over the years the black smoke monster got the best of our two silver possessions and they were not really presentable any more, therefore kept in the dark basement cave together with some random spoons and forks that I don’t even know where they came from. Until I saw this tutorial about how to clean silver. So I gave it a shot. See here the before and after:

Last but not least, a sneak preview of our undecorated Christmas tree. Let’s leave it at that to end this post on a positive note. More about my adventures with artificial Christmas trees to be posted soon.

August 31, 2011

Ready, guests, come!

Wow, this was one of the longest drag for a room makeover so far. An estimated two months later the guest bedroom is finally done. For now. Of course there is gonna be more stuff and deco things added over time, but at least it has all practically needed items in it and looks cozy enough. I think this is my new requirement for a room makeover to be deemed completed. We did splurge on the bed. Got a new mattress from Amazon for the fraction of the price of a store bought mattress (Sleep Innovations memory foam mattress, so comfy that Lincoln wants to sleep over in the other room now. Wish I had gotten this for our own bed 3 years ago.) and a new bed from Ikea because we just couldn’t find a nice one on Craigslist and trust me, I’ve been checking every single day for two months. So at least for the price we got something completely bed bug free and hope that our guests will always want to return to this nice bed.

Here are the details on the makeover:

Darn, I just noticed that the pattern of the curtain is upside down. Oh well. I am so happy that I found this fabric at Joann’s. It matches the yellow in the duvet cover perfectly and brings some sunny elegance to the room. Got it with a 50% off coupon for $20 and made the curtains in two evenings. (One evening equals two hours in Nicola currency).

Here is a vintage suitcase for $2 from a yard sale that will one day get legs and become a real night stand. A cute lamp for $5 from Goodwill. And some printed travel wisdom in a white painted $3 IKEA frame that had been waiting for its use for 3 years.

For the bed we had to reuse the old duvet cover because it just wasn’t in the budget to get a new one. I know, this one is very colorful and kind of dominating the room, but just imagine how changing it up one day will be like another entire room makeover in one step.

To fill all the empty space above the rather low IKEA Malm bed (we chose this bed because we did not want to overpower the small room with a huge bed, we had already gotten a free Malm dresser, and because it fit in our car), I created some bigger sized wall art. Had some old canvasses on hand, painted them white, folded some origami boats out of left over maps and hot glued them on. Done.

From some leftover curtain fabric I made the two small pillow covers to replace funky orange ones that we already had.

On the opposite side of the bed I framed some postcards and envelopes from all over the world in some more super old IKEA frames that I bought in a picture frame obsession 3 years ago and never used. They are the cheap ones that come in 3 packs. They are plain wood and can easily be painted or embellished to match any decor.

On the shelves that I have no problem with in this room (as opposed to Milo’s room) I arranged some random items that we had and that somewhat belong in a guest room: travel guides, some novels for entertainment on all those long vacation days, a hand-sewn elephant that reminds me that I still want to go to Africa one day, a miniature VW van for dreaming of road trips, etc.

And then we have the previously introduced map lamp. I think all the materials for it were $4.

The little stool/side table thingy is one of those items that are a classic bargain: When I saw them at a yard sale they were super cheap (I think it was $2 for two of them an my mom paid for it because I had conveniently forgotten my cash at home) and seemed somewhat practical, so I got them even though I had no idea what exactly they could be used for. Now one of them is serving as a makeshift nightstand and the other one is holding a fan in Milo’s room. They are also really practical to get up to the slightly too high shelves.

If the bed hadn’t busted our budget, this would have been a really budget friendly room makeover. How do you like it? Is it too travel thematic?

So there you have it, another room done and here is a little hint as to what is next: one of the rooms in a house where you don’t want light colored carpeting.

July 31, 2011

Home Decor on a Budget

Let’s face it: Home improvements cost money. Sad , but true. Also true is that I have a very limited budget to spend every month. But no need to get all teary-eyed – just one more reason to get creative. Here is how to make home improvements happening on a tight budget:

1. Set a budget! Duhh! That’s kind of given. My “budget” is usually pretty general: Get everything for as cheap as possible. Cannot exceed $100 a month on total expenses. Other folks probably swear by setting a specific cost for a specific project, but in reality you never know how much things are gonna cost, or what additional materials you need, etc. So I am just trying to accomplish as much as possible on my monthly budget and anything that exceeds it has to be delayed until later. Absolutely necessary big ticket items (like a mattress for the guest bedroom) will go on the credit card and have to be paid off within 2 months.

2. Do it yourself! If only it was that easy. Have I mentioned before that in addition to little money I also have very limited amounts of time left over? I know, the most logical approach to life would be to work hard, make lots of money, and then spend it on finished products and hire contractors to do the work. Or the other way around: Work little, have more time, do everything yourself. Well, I guess I got the best (or worst) of both worlds. Here is how I squeeze home improvements in my weekly routine: (more…)

July 15, 2011

The tree is up

Here is an update on the tree that I painted on Milo’s wall. It all didn’t quite go as planned, but I kind of like the result. My very first idea was to buy a tree wall decal and save all the work of painting. Then I decided against spending money and for painting. But, I didn’t want to risk to free-style it, so I went to look for inspiration on Pinterest and Dr. Google. This is what I was intending to replicate, minus the owl:

When I started drawing the outline on the wall with a pencil (chalk would have been better, but didn’t have any on hand), I realized that I didn’t really care for the curvy branches and wanted to keep the tree more straight and edgy. In the course of changing the direction of this tree an entire eraser lost its life and I did end up free-styling the thing. (more…)

November 29, 2010

Tin Car