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Archive for the ‘Home Decorating’ Category

Chloe


Quincy

While I certainly don’t believe you should take on a pet you’re not 1001% committed to, I know a lot of people whose only stumbling block for a cat is the issue of where to put the litter box. With a little creativity, this problem can be solved quite easily and quite stylishly.

Currently I’m fortunate to have a second full bath that is not needed for showering, so my solution is very easy: I just put the two litter boxes right in the tub. I know eventually my guys will get too old to jump in there, at which point if we’re still living here I will most likely trade bathrooms with them so they can get in and out of the lower shower stall, but for now they are hidden away behind the shower curtain where no one can see and all the litter they scratch out is contained within the tub instead of all over the carpet. I keep a stopper in the tub and use the vacuum cleaner to suck up the stray litter when I do a full box cleaning so it doesn’t harm the plumbing.

Now you see it ...

Now you don't.

In addition to the litter boxes, I’ve placed a pole across the built in niches in the shower wall and use this to suspend their carriers. The scoop goes in another niche and I’ve hung some volcanic rocks from the shower head that are supposed to absorb smells (jury is still out on this, they don’t work instantaneously). I should probably hang this with some sort of cute ribbon or something a little more classy than an old dry cleaner’s hanger, but I just got it and haven’t had time to really think about it much.

De-stinkifier.

I’ve decorated the space with random cat-themed tchotchkes, plus a few cute little birdies (this is “their” room after all and they’re not really big fans of random cats, they barely tolerate one another), and their pictures (well, I only have Mia’s picture up currently, still need to get the frames painted for the other two).

Random cat decor.

Birdies for the kitties.

The space under the sink holds bags of litter, dry cat food (for some reason they prefer to eat their dry food in here rather than in the pantry where they get their wet food and where we also keep bowls of dry food and water), paper bags for the litter box scoopings, and old towels and pillow cases for in their carrier and for cleaning up after them.

Supplies store neatly under the sink.

By the way, I can’t recommend “The World’s Best Cat Litter” enough. It really is. It is made from corn and it clumps, but not into a hard little cement ball (remember, your cat is going to breath in and most likely consume some of their litter in cleaning themselves – I personally don’t want anything turning to cement inside of them); it doesn’t get gummy; and it is chemical free. It is not the cheapest litter but I can go a month without doing a full change out.

A cute milkglass planter in the medicine cabinet holds their nail clippers, brush, collars they won’t wear and some of their other small items.

Even the hand soap has a cat on the label.

Before moving here, we lived in a one bed, one bath apartment so my solution for the litter box was a bit different. I removed the doors from the bathroom vanity and put one of the litter boxes in there and then covered it with a tension rod and a small curtain I’d made to coordinate with the shower curtain. As for all the junk one normally stores under the vanity, I moved most of it to the linen closet where I hung a shoe bag over the door and used the pockets for spare shampoo, toothpaste and the like (hint: if you do this, get a shoe bag with CLEAR pockets – may not be as attractive, but makes finding things MUCH easier, trust me, I learned this the hard way). For things like spare toilet paper that had to be kept in the bathroom, I just got a few cute baskets and boxes and stored them in those on the floor and on the back of the toilet tank.

The beauty of this idea is that it can be adapted to other spaces. If you don’t want to give up the space in your bathroom vanity or need space for a second litter box, you can remove the door on a linen closet, tv cabinet, buffet or anything like this and make a private little space with a curtain. Just make sure you remove any low shelves so kitty has some headroom and of course you will need to devote the entire cabinet to kitty and kitty’s supplies (no storing dishes in the buffet along with the litter box!)

If you don’t want to DIY it, you can also purchase ready-made furniture with a built-in litter box space like this stylish bench from Drs. Foster and Smith.

Specialty cat furniture from Drs. Foster and Smith.

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Today is the third day of my three bookshelves, three-day project. The first day I primed all three and painted the small wooden one in the hall bath. The second day I waxed and styled the bathroom bookcase and did most of the painting on the two white laminate cases. Because I’d used a roller on these, the paint was spread pretty thin, so today I touched up some thin spots – they really could use another coat, but I’m almost out of paint and didn’t want to go buy more at this point. Putting the shelves back in resulted in some scrapes to the inside of my newly painted surface, so I touched these up too. Because I am planning to do a final coat at some point, I cheated and did not wax these yet. So I cleaned up, moved the shelves back to where they belonged and put stuff back on them. For now I just pretty much did a tidied up version of what was already on them – I need to do major cleaning out and organizing in the coming months and may change things around then, but today was devoted to putting away Christmas and I just didn’t want to drag more stuff out.

So here they are, all three sets of completed shelves:

Bathroom shelves

Bathroom shelves

Bedroom shelves

Bedroom shelves

Dining Room shelves

Dining Room shelves

And here is what they looked like when I started:

Wooden bookshelf before

Bedroom bookcase

Dining room bookcase

So not bad for three free sets of shelves, a free quart of green paint, and leftover white and tan paint. My only real expenses were the Zinsser primer, roller set and roller covers which were under $20.

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So, today is day two of my project to make over 3 small sets of bookcases. Yesterday I primed everything and painted one of the cases with Glidden’s Soothing Green Tea, a light yellowish green. Today I worked on the two laminate sets. They are being painted to match my trim, which is Valspar’s Woodlawn Lace, from their National Trust Collection. Most of the colors in this collection are based on historic properties – this one being Woodlawn, which was once part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. I am in love with this color – it looks fabulous in every light: crisp and clean during the day, soft and warm at night, and if I wake up during the night it absolutely glows from the light outside.

White bookcases in progress

White bookcases in progress

The backs of the bookcases were done in Valspar’s Antique, which is part of their Waverly collection. This is the color of all of my walls except the kitchen and laundry/pantry. I was planning on saving this for wall touchups and using an old can of Martha Stewart’s Light Cocoa, which is very similar, but I couldn’t get the can open.

White bookcases with tan backs

White bookcases with tan backs

While the roller was an easy way to paint the outsides and shelves of the bookcases, I did find I had to do about three coats to really get coverage, and I still have a few spots to touch up. It did also require some sanding in between coats. I did the backs with a brush and it was much faster, if not as smooth of a finish.

While I was waiting for the paint to dry on these, I applied the paste wax to the green bookcase which was painted yesterday. I like to use what is sometimes called Bowling Alley Wax (for reasons I can guess) or Butcher’s Wax (for reasons I have no idea) which gives a nice hard, water resistant finish and a pretty sheen.

Minwax Paste Wax

To apply it, I just use a paper towel (cheese cloth actually works well too) to scoop some out and smear it on the piece. It is stinky, so ideally (i.e. do as I say, not as I do) you should do this in a well-ventilated place, and the can warns harmful or fatal if swallowed, so don’t eat it or let your kid or pet near it. After smearing on a light layer, let it dry for awhile and then buff it off with an old towel or t-shirt. If it seems sticky while you’re wiping it off, you need to let it dry a little longer. Once it is buffed off, your piece will have a nice smooth feel and sheen.

Since I wasn’t planning to do much different in styling this piece, I went ahead and put the stuff back on it. So here it is again before:

Wooden bookshelf before

And after:

Wooden bookshelf after

Wooden bookshelf after

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I decided to take advantage of some much needed time off of work to tackle a few projects I’ve been putting off forever, namely painting up the three trash picked bookshelves I have hanging around here. My three day timeline includes two days of priming and painting and the third day to wax the cured paint and style the shelves. Luckily the day-after-Christmas snowstorm we got hit with played perfectly into my plans – I’m not going out in that no way, no how.

So today is day one. Let me introduce you to my victims shelves:

Small wooden bookcase

This first cutie set is actually made from real wood. It’s quite scratched on top and an ugly reddish/orangish brown color, but otherwise a nice compact size. It lives in the cats’ hall bathroom and is perect for storing extra towels, toilet paper, books on cats, cat toys, and random cat decor (I plan on becoming a crazy cat lady, complete with theme sweaters, about 20 years from now.)

Scratched top on wooden bookcase

Scratched top on wooden bookcase

The next two shelves are a matched pair of laminate complete with cardboard backing. They’re also perfectly sized for where they live, one in the dining room in the space between the kitchen door and the wall, which is used to hold barware, dishes, and decorative items, and the other in the master bedroom between the bathroom and closet doors, where it holds a few books, my tax files, and some decorative items.

Bedroom bookcase

Bedroom bookcase

Dining room bookcase

Dining room bookcase

First I gathered my supplies: A 4″ cabinet and door roller set, a canvas dropcloth, foamy brush, angled paint brush, wood glue (to repair the trim on the front of one of the shelves), paint, sanding sponge, and primer. On the recommendation of Kate from Centsational Girl I picked up the Zinsser oil based primer for the laminate bookcases since it is supposed to stick to anything, and it does.

Painting supplies

I sanded the top of the wooden bookcase pretty well since it had some scratches. My wood filler was dried out, so I used a very, very thin coat of plaster spackle to fill in the last little bit and it seems to have worked pretty well. The primer says “no sanding necessary” so I did not sand the rest of the wooden piece, but did go over the laminate ones very lightly (I hate sanding. Detest.). The roller worked really well on the outsides of the bookcases, was a little more difficult on the insides, especially the wooden one whose shelves were not removeable. I used an old foamy brush to get into the corners. I was also working in a really small space which didn’t help matters any. The primer dried really quickly (can says an hour, I took a lunch break in there so left it a bit longer).

Primed laminate bookcases

Primed laminate bookcases

Primed wooden bookcase

Primed wooden bookcase

I tossed the roller after finishing with the primer because I hate cleaning them did not have the mineral spirits to clean oil paint. Since it was windy as heck and the roads were snow covered, a trip to Home Depot, which is literally across the street, was not in the cards for additional rollers. The interior of the wooden case I decided was more easily tackled with the brush anyway, so I broke out my can of Glidden Soothing Green Tea that I had gotten free about 2 years ago when they did a website promotion. The can was sealed with a plastic ring called a NormLock Seal to keep it from leaking when shipped. I didn’t know what it was for or how to get it off, so I started with a websearch. I nearly got a virus, and could have learned how to hack my husband’s cell phone or “adult” websites if I’d wanted (I swear my search terms were “opening normlock seal”), but no instructions for getting this plastic ring off my paint can. I found directions for removing a different brand of seal with pliers, so I started there and added a screwdriver when I’d pryed it up enough. Don’t worry about destroying it, you’re not going to reuse it. This was my main question when starting out – I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to go back on the can to scrape the brush against to keep from gooping paint all over the can or what, but no, it is just to seal it for shipping.

Opening a NormLock Seal
Opening a NormLock Seal

So with my paint can open I could finally begin painting! I had planned to do just the inside, and wait until I could get out for rollers to finish up the outside, but once I started I just kept going and did the whole thing. So here is the result.

Painted green bookcase

Painted green bookcase

Scratches are nearly gone

Scratches are nearly gone

I’ll tackle the laminate shelves tomorrow when I can get out for more rollers. They will both be painted white to match my trim with the back panels in tan to match (or close to match) the walls.

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Pink and Gold Tablescape

I’ve been on a pink and gold kick this holiday season. If I had done a tree, I was planning on this color scheme, but alas, there was no time or space for a tree this year, so I decided to unleash my glittery, glamorous ambitions on my tablescape. You may remember the “Angel in a Jar” decoration from my Thrifty Finds post last month. I was unsuccessful in freeing her from her prison, so I used her as is, with just the addition of a faux pearl necklace (I have yards of faux pearl garland around somewhere, but since I couldn’t find it, just raided my jewelry box). I placed her on a small square beveled glass mirror with a gold frame (thrifted, $3.35), pulled out my Duralex Piccardy glasses in three different sizes to add to the centerpiece, along with some ornaments and more faux pearls from the jewelry box.

Pink and Gold Holiday Place Setting

My place settlings are gold leaf chargers topped with ironstone plates (I’m obsessed with white dishes) and pink glass rim soup plates. On top of these I’ve added another Duralex glass (I pick these up in the thrifts whenever I can find them) with a pink ornament inside and a glittery white snowflake off to the side. Under it all I’ve used a green tablecloth and a natural runner, which I think keeps the whole from being too precious. I’ve staggered silver candlesticks and two frosted hurricanes with glitter snowflakes on them down the runner. After I took the photo, I also added two glittery reindeer from Dollar Tree.

Pink and Gold Holiday Place Setting

I like to match my decor to my cat!

As you can see, Quincy, who has green eyes, and a pink nose and pads on his feet, matches the decor perfectly. Maybe next year I’ll get him some angel wings and a pedestal and he can be the centerpiece. You know, kinda like when stores have “live” mannequins in their windows sometimes.

Pink and Gold Holiday Place Setting

With the exception of the runner, which I think I got at Marshall’s years ago, one set of the candlesticks, which were my grandmothers, and the hurricanes which were a gift, everything else on the table was thrifted and probably less than $20 all together, with many of the elements being things I can use at other times of the year and in different color schemes. So I hope you’ve enjoyed my table, and in case you were wondering, no I don’t ever actually eat at it. And the cats aren’t really ever allowed up there.

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Inspiration can come from many places – magazines and catalogs, other peoples’ homes, a favorite motif, pattern or color, nature, architecture. Lately for me it has been a specific object. For my master bedroom it was this lamp, picked up at Marshall’s for $30-$40.

It is not at all my typical style – more modern than my Shabby-Chic-Meets-Pottery-Barn-in-the-90s look (which I’m slowly trying to update and modernize), and it’s blue when I’ve always favored greens. Anyway, once the lamp was purchased, the Target melamine plates and Dwell Studio for Target bedding and striped 100% no-iron cotton sheets from Target joined our household.

Mirror Arrangement

I’m in the process of painting my old dressers dark brown to coordinate with the new dresser and the vanity in the adjoining master bath. For the bed, I’m thinking of an aqua blue palette something like this one from Pottery Barn’s teen collection (even though I am far from my teenhood). It is hard for me to commit to color because I do like to change out linens and such with the seasons.

pbbluebed

Pottery Barn Coraline Bed in Charlotte Blue

The time has also come to tackle the mess of an office-guest-room-storage-space (it’s too messy to even show you a picture. Really) and fortunately I recently scored a pair of vintage Loewenstein cane backed chairs from the thrift and some killer yellowish-green lattice print upholstery fabric that have me swooning and very inspired.

Quincy and Chloe are also inspired by our new chairs.

I see lots of great furniture cast-offs on my thrifting trips, and mostly I think “yeah, that would be great if I felt like doing a project, but I don’t” so these chairs must be really special to have inspired me so and they were only $11/pair – go look at what Loewensteins charges for similar chairs in their catalog. Yes, that is $670+ per chair! Score! The plan is to paint the chairs white and redo the seats with the fabric, which was only $3 for 3 yards, get a mattress for the antique brass bed I’ve been storing for years (still on the fence on what to do about the finish – it was painted brown at one time, kind of shabby chic now) and use it as a day bed with some of the extra fabric from the chairs as pillows. I shopped long and hard many years ago for a library table to use for the computer, but I wish there was a way to hide all the electronics junk without getting rid of my desk (I have an idea for that that might work involving my “just hide it all behind a curtain” strategy below – stay tuned).

The one drawback to this room is that it has no closet. I have a cheap shelving unit and dresser that are functional and in good condition, just not very inspiring, and a vanity that I’ve had basically all of my life that I’m not willing to part with and that will serve well for a sewing table, so the plan for right now is to line all of those up along the wall with the “big ugly mirror I haven’t been able to work around” attached to it and then use IKEA’s Kvartal track system and panels to just hide it all. Eventually I’d love to do a built-in custom system. I’ve physically rearranged the room 2 or 3 times in the past year and finally sat down and drew out a measured floor plan with furniture cut-outs so I could rearrange on paper and I think I’m going to do one more rearrange and hopefully be done. Fortunately I don’t think I have to move and rewire computer equipment this time. Anyway, stay tuned, maybe in a year I’ll have this done. I’m hoping the mood board below helps speed me along though, ‘cause I really am sick of this mess.

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Thrifty Lamp Before

You may remember the $3.75 lamp I posted a few weeks ago. It was brass and medium toned wood with a burlap drum shade. Well, I’m happy to announce, its transformation is complete! I took it apart, taped it off and spray painted the brass parts silver with a metallic paint. I sanded the base parts first with a sanding sponge which gave me a nice brushed finish but because I’m lazy did not sand the smaller bits, which came out smoother. I think I like the brushed look best. It took several coats of paint to coat everything – remember, with paint, many light layers are better than one heavy one.

I gave the spray paint a few days to dry (one is probably enough, that is just how long it took me to get back to it) and then taped off the silver and with a cheapy foam brush painted the wood with some Ralph Lauren Edwardian Burgundy I had left from this dresser makeover. Once the paint was dry (sort of, I was getting excited at this point) I put in the new cord, which is super easy to do (just follow the directions on the package or look for a reputable site online with directions). I had a white one on hand from another project I haven’t gotten to yet, I may change it out for a dark one eventually as I plan to paint the dresser this lamp is sitting on dark someday.

In between the spray painting stage and the wood painting stage I worked on the shade. I had a nice piece of brown grosgrain ribbon that came around the Dwell Studio for Target quilt I’d purchased earlier in the year so I just wrapped that around the top and tied it in a bow. It seems to be holding, but I could add a dot of hot glue if needed.

So here it is, my “new” lamp, which cost me under $10.

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