Friday, April 11, 2014

The Loveseat

I remember thinking what a steal the loveseat was when we first got it. I saw it on Craigslist when I was about to leave work, contacted the seller on the way to the subway, talked her down to $30 and we picked it up that night.  Although with time, my love for it tapered, as I thought it was a bit too ornate. But it was the perfect size for the room and the husband actually told me he still really liked it a lot.

So he volunteered to strip the fabric down, after that it needed a bit reinforcing in the structure; one of the wood supports on one arm was broken and also some of the joints were  coming apart (nothing a bit of wood glue wouldn’t fix).  I sanded it lightly and gave it a good wipe down and vacuumed after that.


To make it modern, I decided on oil-based paint from Rustoleum in glossy grey.  I only had a small sample can on hand, it was barely enough to cover the loveseat in one coat; a second coat would give it a complete coverage. But I decided on not getting more paint because I liked the imperfect finish, letting some of the old cream paint showing through, highlighting the details a bit and giving the chair character.
The cushions were spring-based; it was bouncy but very hard and heavy. I didn’t want to tackle sewing the cushions since they were a unique shape, which with my sewing skills would take me a while to do! I even considered bringing it to the local dry cleaner that also do clothe adjustments to see if they were willing to sew them for me.   BTW, if I had gone the detachable cushion way, I would have just made it into one long cushion and not two.  Anyway, so we decided on 4-inch foam for the seat and 2-inch foam for the back.  We kept the existing foam on the arms but replaced all the batting.

For the fabric, I got this velvet-like grey fabric with a bit of sheen from the local fabric store for $5/yard.   I think we used about 5 yards.  I also didn’t want to take out the machine to sew the cording, so I just got some beige cording from the store also.  We got 10 yards at about $1.30/yard.  We should have gotten 11 yards, as we were a bit short; so a small portion of the back still is without cording…hopefully I will remember the next time I am there…probably not.
We think it turned out great, it’s not perfect but it’s super comfy and good enough for some rookies!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Chalkboard French/Pier Mirror

The chalkboard between the windows came from my love of French and pier mirrors.
Lonny Mag/ Lauren Gold


 That bathroom is just sooo good!
I have been on the lookout for awhile but no luck so far, they are all just too pricey! And nothing local, imagine the cost to ship one of those giants!

The space between the windows would be too small and specific for a mirror anyway.  But I didn't just want to hang art, I wanted something different that would add character to the room since it would be right across from the door when you walk in.I finally decided to built my own, however, to get a mirror that tall, cut to size, would probably be expensive.
And I have always wanted to try chalkboard paint…

So that’s how the idea came about.
I don’t remember if we went to Lowe’s or HD for the molding because we checked both and it was one of those late night trips that eventually blur into one.  We wanted molding to resemble the French mirrors, with rounded cut.  The one we got was about 1.5" wide.  I also got a wood onlay to go on top.

Of course, it was not possible to bend the wood for a curved top, so I decided to do two tiers to mimic the shape. The hubby used the miter saw to do 45 degree cuts to the pieces, for a clean look.

We decided to use wood glue to hold the wood onlay instead of nailing it in after seeing how delicate it was (just have to hold it in place about a minute for the glue to set enough).

It would make more sense for me to paint the molding pieces first before putting them up but I was too impatient.  It would also make sense to mark the shape and put on the chalkboard paint first. But again, I was too impatient and just wanted to see how it would look!  I, however, did run outside in 30 degrees weather to spray paint the inlay on our porch at 10pm in my pj, hoping the neighbor would not see me.  I just had to do it; it would be a pain to get paint into those nooks once it was up.  So I sprayed in semi-darkness, ran inside to help the husband, then ran outside 30 minutes later hoping the paint was dry enough, which it was…kinda…good enough.

For the frame, I did two coats. First coat with a metallic paint left over from the bedroom stenciling and the final coat with gold leaf paint since it would take too much gold leaf paint alone to cover the frame.
(the bottom portion is after the gold leaf paint)
I used black Chalkboard paint from Rustoleum and basically followed the instructions on the package.

Even though the wall was smooth, I did a quick sanding just to make sure, then I rolled on the first coat and used an angled brush along the frame.  The next night, I did another coat.  I should have sanded between coats for a smoother finish, but I did sand after the second coat was dry. Any white spots, I touched up with a brush.  Chalkboard paint is very much like regular latex paint so the patches blended in nicely when dry.

After a few days, I conditioned it by rubbing chalk all over the board, and then I cleaned it with a damp piece of old t-shirt.  I still use the old t-shirt piece as an eraser, I read the store bought chalkboard erasers are not actually good for the chalkboard.
Originally, I thought the chalkboard would be used as a place for me to scribble down my design layouts; but since we decided to put the loveseat against the window, it would be hard for me to reach there frequently.  So I decided to do a calendar on there instead. I left a piece at the bottom for some scribbling, if the mood strikes.

I love that the frame adds architectural interest to the room and the chalkboard is unexpected.
Definitely a project I would do again!

*sorry for the bad photos, they were all taken at late evening or night time, mostly with the phone camera*


Monday, March 24, 2014

The Study

I had a conversation with my MIL (I have one of the best ones btw!) a few days ago, and she told me how she enjoys coming over just to see the little changes I've made to the house (minor things as moving pillows around even!).  It got me thinking of how much I like seeing the design process when I visit blogs, but yet in my own home, I was uncomfortable showing people the unfinished rooms and especially more so taking photos of them for the blog.   Stupid I know, blame the perfectionist in me, that only thinks a room is photo-ready when it’s 100 percent done (at least for the time being anyway).
Well, what does this mean? It means I have a lot of rooms to show you, now that I am not waiting for it to be 100 % done!

Today, we will start with the office, since it’s our most recent project and it’s 90 percent done (meaning it’s basically done but the perfectionist did not want to show the room until more books and accessories are in place and also until the crab apple tree outside the windows blossoms (silly I know)).

So, being a two-family house, each unit had two bedrooms at the back, one larger than the other. When we converted the house into a one-family, we took the whole living area on the second floor and turned that into a master suite and kept the back bedrooms. For now, the larger bedroom on the second floor is designated as the guestroom and the smaller room as the office/library. Until now, the smaller room was used as a storage area. It was my shame area, which the hubby was always so willing to point out to guests to show my hoarding habit!

I had the room painted a beautiful light shade of green (which I still like) two years ago; however, after some thoughts, I decided on a neutral palette for the room, so that the colors of the books would shine instead. So we repainted it in white.

Now onto the bookcases, I am one of those people that dream of having a wall of bookcases (heck, a whole room if it’s possible!) and also a library ladder.   But this is a small room (approximately 12' by 9'), so the husband "convinced" me that the library ladder would not work (I knew it would not work but I kept talking about it so much that it got him nervous, haha!).   The bookcases would have to be pretty shallow (11 inches ) since I didn’t want to block the window and the closet.

After much consideration and a design change midway, we ended up with Billy bookcases, which we customized.  I didn’t  want it to be all open shelves because I know we don’t have that many books and also I wanted the office part too, as in storage for paperwork and documents. For the bottom shelves, I put KASSETT boxes and magazine files from IKEA.   I wanted to add some interest, so I put doors to create a cabinet in the middle.   I wanted glass doors but also wanted the storage to be hidden, so I used spray paints to give them an antiqued mirror finish. I think they add sparkles to the room. I should note that I wanted this room to have a Parisian feel (ahh Paris, see you again in May!).

The most tedious part of the room probably was the reupholstering of the loveseat, which I got for $30 a couple of years ago and it had been sitting in that room, buried under all the other stuff, waiting for its day to shine ever since.

Given that it is very ornate, I decided to bring it to the 21st century a bit by painting it in glossy grey and then reupholstered in a soft, almost velvet-like grey fabric with cream cording. I wanted floor to ceiling curtains, with ceiling height of about 9.5 feet, I knew I would most likely have to make my own, I decided to add a hint of color to the white/grey/black theme with a bit of blushing pink in the curtains. In certain lights, they almost look cream. I LOVE this fabric, it kinda like silk but heavier and it has simple damask embroidery pattern. I bought the fabric a while ago just because I couldn’t resist and for $5/yard, yes please! I do stuff like that a lot, buying things without a known reason for them, but this time the hubby didn’t refuse because well, it was cheap.

I wanted to imitate a pier mirror between the windows, so we created one with some moulding.  It would be expensive to have glass cut to the frame so I decided to paint it with chalkboard paint.  I now use it as a place to write my monthly calendar.  I haven't used chalk in years! so it was fun, i drew the calendar one late night so please excuse if it's not the best!

The glass table is an inexpensive eBay purchase a while back, and yes, I didn’t really know where I would put it neither but I have always wanted a pretty table like it! The rug is Safavieh, bought from Overstock. The pattern reminds me of that on the curtains. It’s an outdoor/indoor rug.

Well I think this post is long enough, next post I’ll talk more about the other side of the room, which is still a work in progress, but I'll try to shh the perfectionist side and share.

Then onto the tutorials!

Btw, I am so glad it’s tulip season again! They are one of my favorites for cut flowers! We will be heading to Holland beginning of May for tulips (including Paris and Belgium)! I have been reading the bloom reports. While we had a frigid winter, it was very mild in the Netherlands this year, so early blooming, ahhhh, I hope they will still be there when I am there!