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Thursday, April 17, 2014

{One Room Challenge} Week 3 Update

As most of you know by now, I am taking part in the One Room Challenge as a link participant! And here we are already at week 3 of 6. I am feeling pretty good about what we've been able to get done to date {I say we, because Scott is a vital part of this challenge}, but we still have a long ways to go in order to get Beckett's new room completed in just three more weeks!

Before I give you this week's update, here's a quick refresher. We are decorating a brand new, "big boy" room for two year old Beckett. As soon as he moves into his new room, little brother Cooper will be able to move out of our master bedroom and into the nursery {and it's about time, since Cooper will be one at the end of May}. I am calling the design plan for Beckett's room "Vintage Preppy Little Man's Lounge" and it will include a lot of menswear inspired items. Here's a reminder of what the mood board for the room looks like:

During Week 1 of the ORC, I shared all of the plans for the room together with the long to do list, and you can read the week 2 update here, including my knock off version of the Restoration Hardware vintage industrial letters featured on the mood board.

We've been really busy this past week, and I feel like we've accomplished a lot, but in some ways this week has been all about taking two steps forward and one step back. I'll start with the positive and run down what we did get done this week.  

My parents watched the boys on Sunday and we were finally able to paint the room. We painted three of the walls with Benjamin Moore Soft Jazz.

The fourth wall of the room will be the real star - argyle! I was hoping to have some argyle photos to show you this week, but not yet. However, that's not to say that I haven't been making progress.  I spent several hours the other night mapping out the plan for painting the argyle wall, including determining the exact size of each diamond {22 5/8 x 15 13/16}, and creating a to-scale mock up where I've mapped out where the colors will go. This plan will allow us to have four rows with 10 complete diamonds in each row. 

Before finalizing the measurements for the argyle wall, I needed to get a sense of what it will look like once the furniture is in place. I wanted to make sure that none of the colors would be completely hidden by furniture, and that the scale of the diamonds looked appropriate as compared to the furniture {we originally debated on whether to do 3, 4 or 5 rows of diamonds}.

In this rendering, the placement of the furniture is not exact, but the scale is accurate. The brown rectangle on the far left represents the depth of the bookcase on the adjacent wall.  The three brown boxes along the bottom center represent two kid-sized chairs {like the one in the mood board}, with a trunk between them that will serve as a toy box. The large blue shape on the right represents the hanging play tent that my mom and I are designing {the top will actually be pointed, not round}.  And the three rectangles in the center of the rendering represent three framed photos that I plan to hang on the argyle wall. I have been uncertain as to whether it will look too busy to have framed photos hanging on this patterned wall, but seeing this illustration gives me a bit more confidence.

Today is the day that I'll beginning taping out the diamonds, and I honestly have no idea how long it will take before I'll be ready to start painting.  But if you follow me on Instagram, I'll give you some sneak peeks at the process over the next few days. And, of course, I'll give you a full tutorial when it's all complete.

When I'm in the midst of large-scale, time consuming projects, I find it really rewarding to take short breaks to tackle some smaller projects that can be completed quickly. Earlier in the week I framed
a couple of art pieces that I purchased for the room, and yesterday I created two whimsical pieces of art by cutting photos of Menswear Dog out of a calendar and placing them on patterned papers I designed to look like suit fabrics. You can read the details of the framed dog photos here, and I'll give you the info on the other artwork once I do the full room reveal. 

Among other accomplishments this week, we have now removed everything from the room that doesn't belong, and we were able to sit the major furniture pieces in place to get a general sense of what the room will look like. The furniture fits just as we anticipated, thanks to the furniture plan that I created before we began purchasing any items.  

Not everything went exactly according to plan this week...  

I had planned to add some gold detail to the chalkboard globe that I began painting last week, but then discovered that the chalkboard paint would cause the gold paint pen to smear. I'm just so glad I tested the paints on some cardboard before adding the detail to the globe. After a couple more trips to various art supply stores, and two more rounds of tests, I think I have found a solution that will work, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed I'll be able to complete the globe this weekend.

We also installed the bun feet {the ones I was painting yellow in last week's update} on the Expedit bookshelves. After seeing the long bookshelves with just one foot at each corner, we realize that it would look much more complete with an extra pair of feet at the center of each bookcase. This meant I had to go back to the Lowe's to buy more unfinished wood bun feet.  I've primed them and painted them, and, if the weather is warm enough tomorrow, I'll be able to spray them with the enamel finish so that the additional feet can be installed and the bookshelves will be complete at last.

Finally, I was hoping that by now we would be done with our DIY leather drawer pulls for the dresser. I bought some belts that we were planning to cut up to make the drawer pulls, but I woke up in the middle of the night realizing that I hadn't thought it through fully and that the stitching along the edges of the belts would come undone once the belts were cut. Once again, this meant I was back to shopping for a better alternative, and I managed to find a great price on some belts with no stitching.  

That's it for this week.  I'll be back again with another update next Thursday, and you'll see more projects popping up on the blog between now and then. In the meantime, please stop by Calling It Home, the host of the One Room Challenge, to see what all the other participating bloggers are up to in their rooms!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

{decorating with style} Framing Calendar Photos as Art

Have you met Menswear Dog? He's a four year old shiba inu living in New York City with a penchant for all things style. Bodhi's owners, David Jung and Yena Kim, are both designers that have fun dressing up their pup in mens' clothing, and their Tumblr has gone viral. In fact, Bodhi has found so much fame that he's on his way to having his very own canine fashion line.

I first discovered Menswear Dog when I was searching the internet for inspiration for Beckett's menswear themed Vintage Preppy Little Man's Lounge. We don't have a dog of our own, but Beckett adores his grandpa's dog, and we spend a lot of time sitting on our porch saying hi to all the neighbors neighborhood dogs on their evening walks. Since Beckett is so found of dogs, I immediately knew that Menswear Dog had to find his way into the room design!

I was thrilled to discover that Bodhi is the star of his very own calendar! Framing calendar pages is a quick and easy way to create art on a budget, and if you buy the calendar a few months into the year you can get a great deal {I was able to pick up the Menswear Dog calendar for less than $4 on Amazon last month}.

Initially, I planned to simply frame two of the pages from the calendar to hang on the wall of Beckett's new room, but I was bummed to discover that my favorite image - the one on the cover - is not featured inside the calendar at all. In order to use the cover photo without all of the writing, this meant I needed to cut out just the dog, eliminating the background. I selected the cover photo as well as the December photo, and cut them both out.

Before framing the dog photos, I needed to create a new background for each.  Rather than simply placing a solid color of paper behind the cutouts, I wanted to emphasize the menswear theme by using fabric inspired patterned paper. I opted to create my own paper in Photoshop - one page of houndstooth, and one plaid - but scrapbook paper would have worked just as well.

I printed out my patterned papers, and then trimmed the background paper and the dogs down until they fit nicely in an 8 x 10 frame (using the frame backing as a template).

I picked up my frames during semi-annual Buy 1, Get One for a Penny sale at Aaron Brothers Frames, so this was a very low cost art project, but one that will be such a fun addition to Beckett's new room.  I love that these pictures tie in directly with the menswear theme of the room, but the dogs add a touch of whimsy perfect for a little boy!

That's one handsome and fashionable dog!

Although I had originally planned to simply frame the calendar photos with their solid colored backgrounds, I'm glad I was forced to think more creatively. The addition of the suit fabric inspired papers really adds to the finished product!

Beckett had a lot of fun helping me pick the calendar photos that we framed, and he still giggles each time he tells me the "doggy wears a tie!" In just a few short weeks we'll have Beckett's new room completed, and Menswear Dog will be prominently featured in the gallery wall I have planned for above the dresser.

Stop back tomorrow for more updates on the progress we're making in Beckett's new room.  I can't believe the One Room Challenge is already half way over...I still have so much more to do!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

{style inspiration} Want the Look for Less? Knock it Off!

You know the saying "you're eyes are bigger than your stomach"? Well, when it comes to my decorating wish list, often my eyes are bigger than my budget. And I know I'm not the only one! It's so easy to walk through a store or flip through a catalog and fall in love with an item that you just can't afford!

A good shopper knows that with a little patience and perseverance, you can often find a similar item for a much better price. I've always been proud of my skills when it comes to bargain hunting, but lately I've been having a lot of fun with another method for getting the look for less - the knock off!

Blogland is full of inspiring knock off projects, but if you have your eye on a particular item and you are looking for ideas of how to recreate the look on your budget, your first stop should be Knock Off Decor.

If you haven't visited this site - you must! It's an amazing collection of some of the best knock off projects from around the web, representing budget version of items from all the high end stores, including Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Z Gallerie, Urban Outfitters, West Elm, Restoration Hardware, and many more! Knock Off Decor simply shows you images of original version and the knock off version, then links you back to the original blog post for each project where you'll typically find a detailed tutorial. Beckie, the brains behind Knock Off Decor, aims to inspire her readers with budget friendly projects, but she always gives due credit to the cutting edge designers behind the original products.

I have been fortunate to have two of my recent projects featured at Knock Off Decor. A few weeks ago, it was my License Plate Map High Low Project, and just yesterday my budget friendly version of Restoration Hardware's Vintage Industrial Letters were up on the site.

While my license plate map saved me a whopping $3,760 dollars, not every knock off is about saving hundreds or thousands of dollars. Especially when you are decorating an entire room (like I am doing currently for the One Room Challenge), every penny adds up and even a small savings can be worthwhile. My DIY version of the vintage industrial letters rang in at $3 each, compared to $15 each at Restoration Hardware Baby & Child.  While the original price wasn't that bad, an 80% cost savings is nothing to sneeze at, and that savings will allow me to add another detail to the room that otherwise might have not been in the budget.

Here are a few of my favorites among the fantastic knock off projects that have been featured by Knock Off Decor in recent months. Be sure to link through to the original blogger's post if you want to pin any of these projects to Pinterest.

GEOMETRIC TABLE LAMP: Original - Lamps Plus / Knock Off - Sarah M. Dorsey Designs
WOOD PATTERNED COASTERS: Original - Anthropologie / Knock Off - Just a Girl & Her Blog
RECLAIMED WOOD SHELVES: Original - Restoration Hardware / Knock Off - 7th House on the Left

It's amazing what you can do with a little creative and an investment of a little time! If there's an item on your decorating wish list that's just not in the budget, head over to Knock Off Decor and you might just find a way to make your very own version.  Best of all, a DIY version can allow you to customize in a way that better fits your space. Notice how Abby, from Just a Girl and Her Blog, altered the colors of her wood painted coasters to match her decor. Want that lamp in a different color, or need those shelves to be shorter? Create it just the way you want it!

Friday, April 11, 2014

{organizing with style} A Mudroom in the Kitchen

I used to be so jealous of people who had a mudroom! That is, until we created our own little mudroom space right in our kitchen. And today I'm so excited to show it to you! Get ready, this is a photo heavy post because I just can't get enough of this space.

But before we get to all of the pretty pictures, let me remind you where this all began. When we bought our house, we were a bit baffled by the five and a half feet of empty space in the corner of the kitchen.

Our frustrations over the lack of additional cabinets in this corner of the kitchen were soon overcome by gratitude when we discovered the original floor plans called for this space to house the washer and dryer. We were very thankful the builder thought better of that and moved the laundry to the second floor, and we began viewing this empty space as an opportunity! As I thought about how we could make the best use of the space, it occurred to me that its location {right by the back door that leads to our detached garage} made it the ideal place to create a pseudo mudroom - a place where we could remove wet shoes immediately upon entering the house, and where we could hang jackets, purses and backpacks.

As soon as we moved in to the house we painted the kitchen, and I was eager to tile the backsplash right away. But I knew that someday we would build out the corner of the kitchen, and that it would be much better to wait so that we could eventually have one seamless and continuous backsplash.

While we saved our pennies, I dreamed up lots of different layouts for this space {read the details about the various plans we considered here}. We had a long wish list, and it was a challenge to design a solution that would meet all of our wants/needs.  As a reminder, the list looked like this:

1. Bench for sitting down to remove wet shoes
2. Hooks for hannging jackets, purses and backpacks
3. Storage for kitchen electrics
4. Storage for vases and extra glassware
5. Wine rack {solved by a wine rack console table on the other side of the kitchen}
6. Shelves for cookbooks
7. Shelves to display antique glass items from our grandparents
8. Tile beind the bench to prevent wet coats from damaging the wall

After ruminating over all sorts of different ideas, I finally hit upon an idea that would address everything on the wish list, and then some {other than the wine rack, as noted above}. As I often do before we commit to a plan, I created a rendering in Photoshop to help us envision what the finished product would look like.

Our existing kitchen cabinets were custom made, but the maker was no longer in business, meaning that we had to find a contractor who could construct matching cabinets, and we decided to also have the contractor do all of the tile installation at the same time. Because there are no windows adjacent to our kitchen prep area, we selected a glass tile that would help reflect the natural light in the kitchen and brighten up the space, and which would also tie in nicely with the frosted glass fronts on some of our upper cabinets.

Ok, enough talk of the plans! I am bursting at the seams to show you our completed kitchen mudroom!

Since we wanted this mudroom space to be both pretty and functional, we were careful to select materials that could stand up to the every day use. The backsplash tile was first and foremost in this regard. We had always wanted tile to run the length of the kitchen counters, and it was also important that we have tile below the coat hooks in order to protect the wall from wet jackets and umbrellas. I am totally in love with the Davinci tile we selected, which is in a random brick pattern and has a combination of glossy and frosted tiles. Not only is it gorgeous, we also got a killer price from Glass Tile Oasis during a major sale!

The bench cushion is a piece of thick foam that my mom covered for us in a black outdoor fabric, making it water resistant. The quaterfoil pillows are actually outdoor pillows, and the pillows in the center have removable covers that can easily be washed if necessary.

Finally, the rug is very durable and has a short pile that makes it ideal for it's placement just inside the back door. The size of the rug was also important because I wanted it be span the distance from the door to the end of the bench, allowing plenty of space for multiple people to come in at the same time and remove wet or snowy shoes before continuing on to the hardwood floors. We already had this rug from Target in another room of our house, but when we brought it in to the kitchen it fit so perfectly that we knew it had to stay!

Now let's talk about the coat hooks, shall we?! I am kind of obsessed with them! They are Umbra Flip Hook Racks that I purchased at the Container Store, and I adore the way they flip out for use, but fold flat the rest of the time!

These racks come in several colors, but the dark wood is almost a perfect match to our kitchen cabinets. In order to achieve a truly custom, built-in look, I wanted the coat hooks the span the full width of the bench. The contractor tried to convince me otherwise, and originally installed two of the coat racks centered in the space, leaving a few inch gap on each side that he intended to fill with tile. But I stood my ground and insisted that he spread the two coat racks out, and cut down a third coat rack to fill the gap in the middle. The end result looks like one continuous piece, and the seams between the coat racks are nearly invisible.

The glass-fronted cabinets above the coat hooks hold all of my vases, serving pitchers, and various other glassware.  The cabinets below the bench provide additional storage for kitchen electrics, like our Crockpot and food processor.

That about sums up the "mudroom" portion of the kitchen addition.  The cabinet and shelves on the far right provide ample storage for all of my cookbooks, as well as providing display space for some sentimental antiques from our grandparents.

We received quite a collection of cookbooks for our wedding, and I am thrilled to have a place to store all of these gorgeous books on open shelving where they can be seen and appreciated even when not in use. Cookbooks can be easily damaged if stored to close to the stove or in an area where they can get wet, so the location of these cookbook shelves - removed from the kitchen prep area - is ideal.

If you're from Denver, or have visited, you'll recognize the blue bear that holds up some of our cookbooks. He's the miniature version of the 40 feet tall big blue bear that leans against the front of the Colorado Convention Center, peering into the lobby.

Convention center photo via
The small countertop below these shelves is a perfect place to sit the books while I am flipping through them or while writing out my grocery list. This small countertop also holds a cute little basket (from Target) that we use to corral our keys, sunglasses, and other items that we need to grab quickly on our way out the back door.

The top two shelves display antiques that we were given to us by our grandparents. This is the only area where the contractor didn't quite deliver as promised. We had requested that a light be wired into the top of the cabinet so that we could light up these antiques. The contractor made the top shelf glass, as requested, to allow the light to shine through, but he failed to install a light. By the time we came home to discover this oversight, it was too late to add a hardwired light without taking down the newly installed cabinets.  Instead, I did some research and purchased a thin, battery operated puck light to affix to the top of the cabinet. The light is not quite as bright or natural colored as we had hoped.  Nonetheless, the light serves its purpose and I'm happy to have it there.

The Fire King Azurite Milk Glass tea cups and saucers were given to me by my grandma, an originally belonged to my great grandma, who collected them out of oatmeal boxes in the early 1950s. The Indiana Tiara Black Amethyst Glass Diamond Point mugs and covered candy dish were given to us by Scott's grandparents and are from the 1960s or 1970s.

Lastly, the cabinet below the cookbook shelves provides a bit of extra storage. It holds all of my cookbooks that are less display-worthy, as well as a file box that I use for organizing recipe clippings from magazines and menus for local restaurants.  You can read all about that filing system here.

I couldn't be happier with the way this project turned out! The contractor did such an amazing job of matching the cabinets that you would never know that this mudroom was not part of the original kitchen!

Ok, ok. If you are really observant and a little bit anal, then you may have noticed that there is one thing that gives away the fact that the kitchen mudroom was an addition and not original... the feet on the cabinets don't match.

Unfortunately, the feet used on the original cabinets were discontinued, and despite intensive searching, we were unable to find a similar alternative. But, we were able to find the next best thing - feet that are a nearly identical match to those on the oven. It's the little details!

I'll leave you with a few comparison photos so you can really appreciate this transformation.  First let's look at how the finished mudroom space compares to the rendering that I created during the planning phase. It's really rewarding to see a plan come to life!

And finally, here are the before and after photos! Even though we lived with the empty space in our kitchen for years before adding in the "mudroom," it's hard for me to remember it ever looking like the before photo.

Of all of the ways that we could have utilized this formerly-dead space in our kitchen, I can't imagine any plan that would have better served the needs of our family! As a result of the custom cabinetry, this certainly wasn't the cheapest of the home improvement projects we've undertaken, but I can say without hesitation that it was worth every penny to have the kitchen mudroom feel like it was there from day one!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

{One Room Challenge} Week 2 - A Whole Lotta Painting Going On

For those who missed my announcement last week, I am a joining in the One Room Challenge as a link participant! That means that I have only 6 weeks to complete Beckett's big boy room... well, it's not six weeks anymore, because here we are already at week 2! Last week I shared all of my plans for the room, including the mood board and the long to do list, and this week I'm back to share a report on our progress.

It's no exaggeration to say that the only thing I've been doing for the last week is painting. And I haven't even started painting the room or the argyle feature wall yet, so you'll probably be getting another painting update next week as well.

None of this looks like much on it's own, so next week I'm hoping to be able to show you how some of these paint projects contribute to the overall room, but for now, here's a quick run down of what I've been painting.

I started by painting the drawers for the new Ikea Hemnes dresser. I've never painted furniture before, so I've had fun trying out the Americana Decor Chalky Paint and Creme Wax (this is a new-ish alternative to the Annie Sloan brand of chalk paint). I had some trouble with brush strokes showing up too much at first, but I got that figured out and I'm happy with the result. I'll do a full review and tutorial of the Chalky Paint once the dresser is reassembled and photo ready.  Next up, we'll be finishing the dresser assembly and adding custom leather handles to the drawers.

We purchased two Ikea Expedit bookshelves for the room {literally days before they announced that the Expedit will be no more}, but I wanted to dress them up a bit to better fit the vintage preppy theme of the room. I decided to add some bun feet to the bookshelves, and painted them in a bright yellow for an unexpected pop of color.

I have a slight obsession with maps and globes {which I chatted about here}, so I've been wanting to paint a chalkboard globe for as long as I can remember. I just finished up the first coat of blue on the water, and I think one more coat will be enough for good coverage. Next up I'll be painting the continents gray, and then adding a fun detail. You might notice in the picture that I'm painting with regular latex paint and not chalkboard paint... but in the end this will be a chalkboard globe! I'll share all the details as soon as it is finished.

The same blue paint that I'm using on the globe also found it's way onto a large picture frame, and I still have several smaller picture frames to paint as well.

Like I said, a lot of painting going on, but not a lot of completed projects to show off yet. But I do have one project that is complete, and I'm SO excited about how it turned out!

I used these paper mache initials from Hobby Lobby to create a super cost-effective knock off of the Restoration Hardware Vintage Industrial Letters that I included in the mood board for Beckett's new room. You can read the full post and tutorial here, but let me just show you how great they turned out.

Not bad for the price, right?!

So that's what I've accomplished this past week. It may not look like much yet, but things will start coming together once we get the painted drawers assembled into the dresser, and once the feet are installed on the bookshelf.  This weekend we'll be painting the room, and then after that I'm going to finally get started on the argyle feature wall {keep your fingers crossed for me!}. I should also have the chalkboard globe completed by next week, and I can't wait to see how it turns out!

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