Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

September 28, 2012

Giveaway: Truly Swedish Design


I'm so jealous!  You folks have a chance to win something I'm coveting.  Annika, from Truly Swedish Design, is giving you a chance to win a LILO tea towel + pot holder set in red/white from Pappelina (a $45.00 value!!)  Keep it for yourself, save it for the holidays or give it as a hostess gift.


It's super simple: just check out the Truly Swedish Design website (click here and it will open in a new window) and leave a comment on this post, telling me what item you’re coveting. Personally, I'd also love one of these retro Hinza shopping totes.

And, as always, here are a few options for bonus entries.  

BONUS ENTRIES: (leave a comment for each)

Like Truly Swedish Design and leave a sweet comment on Facebook:

BONUS DOUBLE ENTRY: (I've never had this option!  Be sure to leave two comments):

Be in the know, plus snag sweet coupons and other bonuses, by signing up for the mailing list:


This contest is open to anyone - no google account or blog following required.  Please be sure to leave your name and email (unless it is visible on your profile).  Information collected is only used for this giveaway (otherwise that would be creepy and weird).   

Contest will be open one week.  Winner will be announced Friday October 5th so check back!  Good luck!!

P.S. Use the coupon code "townhousedeal" to save 12% on all regular priced goods!

September 27, 2012

A Note about the Finicky Paint

When I showed you my recent turquoise chair makeover and makeunder, I mentioned I had splurged on a more expensive brand of spray paint (Liquitex Professional Spray Paint, in Viridian Hue Permanent 7) - the kind always behind lock and key at Michael's.  Although I really liked it, it was a tad trickier to use than my usual hardware store brands.

Photo Via

In case you're going to take the plunge (about $10.00 per can, after a 40% off coupon) here are some tips.

1. Hold the can upright the entire time! 

I'm so used to newfangled spray cans that let me spray this way and that (sometimes accidentally toward my face, but that's another story), that I sprayed this fancy stuff with wild abandon and it totally gummed up the nozzle.  It's designed more for art applications (although it's supposedly weather-proof and really durable), so keep the can upright at all times!  Flip the chair over to get the underside instead of crouching and awkwardly spraying up (c'mon, I'm not the only one, right?)

2. Be cool.

I was so freaking excited by the colour I chose (only the perfect shade of turquoise) that I sprayed and sprayed and sprayed and sprayed.  I was totally crazy-eyed and guess what happened?  Drips.  Big drips.  Worse that any drip I've dripped before (see below).  So, be cool.  Ambivalent, really.  Apply thin, thin coats - thinner even than with other brands - like you're not madly in love with the colour.

3. If you're not cool, it's cool.

This creamy gorgeous paint must know you'll go crazy for it because drips were fixed super easily.  A light sand removed them (like the big one pictured above) another (thin!!) coat covered them perfectly (see below). 

4. Prime first!!

I am lazy and don't always prime.  But to get the promised intensity and richness of colour (it has artist's grade pigments), a white base is a must.  So use a white primer, let is cure completely, then apply this paint.  (I used Rust-oleum Painter's Touch primer in white). 

5.  Clean the nozzle.

This nozzle is finicky.  There are few instructions on the can, but the main one is to hold the can upside down and spray for a few seconds to clean the nozzle.  It's the only time it will let you  up hold it upside down.  Do it.

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint Viridian Hue Permanent 7

As a bonus:

Although Hubby disagrees, I think it smells nice.  It also does not have the same risks of skin or eye irritation but still avoid getting this stuff on you.  

Other than these few things, the paint went on really nicely.  It has a great depth and richness that spray paint doesn't always have.  A creaminess, if that makes any sense.  I would, with a coupon, buy this paint happily again.  I should mention, after this gushing, that this review is totally unsolicited and un-sponsored.  Although, if they tossed a few cans my way, I wouldn't say no . . . .

Speaking of paint, Buzz Feed featured my DIY black & white abstract in a round-up of 39 fun DIY art ideas! 
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September 26, 2012

Reader Q: Our Television Solution

Readers have asked for a post about how we store our television.  I've never blogged about it because our wall unit isn't a DIY project, it's modular Ikea furniture - the Besta series.  It's one of only three Ikea pieces we own and it isn't perfect, but I love it for a few important reasons that I'm happy to share!

1.  Wall unit = new flat screen = happy Hubs

When we moved into the townhouse, I made a deal with Hubby: we'd buy a new flat screen television but only once we had made a new unit for it.  No way was a pricey, giant TV going on the wibbly wobbly dresser that held our tube TV (crash. boom. Tanya cries).  After months of planning and sketching we were no closer to the DIY wall unit dreams and Hubby was so, so sad.  One day I turned to him and said "wanna just go to Ikea, get a wall unit and buy a TV this afternoon?"  I'm not sure he's ever loved me more.  Making Hubby happy is reason number one I love the wall unit.  Plus, I do love movie night with the bigger screen.

2. Even without doors, it helps hide the TV

The best and most logical living room arrangement (remember, it's teeny) has the wall unit positioned as the first thing people see when they walk in the front door.  Because we added a display cabinet to the right of the television, guests aren't immediately hit over the head with the presence of our TV.  In fact, it's barely noticeable from certain angles.

Before, the mid-century dresser I painted white left something to be desired and definitely made the TV more prominent from the doorway. 

3. No messy wires!

From the other direction, it's obviously a television, but the wires and everything are hidden.

The television mounts to panels, which fit snugly to the wall and encase all the necessary cables.  I would have preferred a closeable unit, with doors, but there just isn't enough space for doors to open.  Plus, the pretty sea glass green panels are perfect for the room.

Much better than before, when you could see the wires, the back of the t.v. and the cable box (yes, I'm obsessed with the wires.  I hate wires). 

4. It's pretty. 

I am not sure I could have designed a better unit (well, maybe now that I have had three years to concoct and execute a plan).  I love the glass panel, the storage cubbies with glass shelves and doors.  The white with glass is airy and, although the unit is large, it doesn't take over the room.  I'm not in love with the legs, but we sure as heck aren't dismantling it to change them.  One day I'd love a unit that is made of more quality materials, but so far this hasn't failed us.

5. It just fits!  Whew.

Gotta love modular Ikea stuff!  Our basement doors squeaks by the edge of the wall unit with little room to spare!

How do you store your television?  I have gotten used to looking at ours, but long for the day it's totally hidden.  Did you buy a wall unit?  Remake something into cool television storage?  Share your link if you have a good TV storage idea!
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September 24, 2012

Hard at Work

Since announcing my plans for a research stay in Hungary, I've been asked by readers to talk about what exactly I'm doing here in Budapest.  I did babble on about my research in this post and I promise to share more as it develops.  But a picture is a worth a thousand words, so here's a photo of the gorgeous library I've been spending my days in.  I plan to read (well, skim) over 1,100 issues of a Hungarian women's magazine and study the representation of mothers and women without children.  A lofty ambition to be sure, but the surroundings make it much more enjoyable.  Basically, I plonk down here in the morning and read all day.

I think we need to take a closer look at that chandelier, right?

I was worried about logging so many hours in a library because I am so used to working in my home office and the luxury that entails (comfy chair, privacy, pretty things to look at when my mind wanders) but this room has it in spades.  In fact, the chairs are more glam, and just as comfy, as my cushy office chair.  The space is quiet and rarely occupied.  And there is plenty to ogle - the view out the window is of the parliament!

Sadly, this library has only half of the issues of the magazine here, so I will only be here for a few weeks before moving on to another library.  
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September 20, 2012

And Then a Turquoise Chair Makeunder

Yesterday I showed you how I finally painted a piece of furniture turquoise (what a weird life ambition), but I admitted it got a makeunder soon after.  What happened?  I loved the strips of exposed wood at first, but a day later I realized that in the basement, where it will live, things are already mismatched and my goal has been to pull together a cohesive look (I got halfway there before I left for Hungary).  A crazy chair needs a stark space.  The crazy basement, on the other hand, needed a bright, but paired back chair.  So away went the ziggy zags.

I sanded the edges of the stripes until I couldn't feel them (and then primed and sprayed) but that was the lazy gal's way.  You can still see the pattern ever so slightly.  Le sigh.  I shouldn't have rushed.  I should have sanded right down to the wood.  Ah well, the basement is dim and I can barely tell in the brightest light.  But here's the chair, looking simple but good.  The paint still shows the wood grain's texture and the little dints and dings look sweet, like there's a story hiding under the cheery, modern hue. I am perfectly content now.  I love this chair.

For a bit of variety, I snapped this set of after photos outside (how avante garde, lol):

For some reason, I really love dints and dings covered in a creamy coat of paint.  Old mixed with new.

Our neighbourhood cat, who will sit on the exterior ledge of the dining room window, staring at us eating dinner and meowing for us to come out and play, approved.  (Seriously, he meows until we go out onto the patio and then proceeds to try to bite us.  Weirdo.  Maybe his opinion doesn't count?  Wonder if he misses me)

P.S. We think the cat might really be a human in cat clothes.  He stands on his hind legs and stares at us, as if trying to tell us something.  Or maybe I watched too much Sabrina the Teenage Witch . . .
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September 19, 2012

Finally . . . a Turquoise Chair Makeover

UPDATE: see here for the turquoise chair makeunder!

After pining for turquoise, especially turquoise chairs (and even putting "paint a piece of furniture turquoise" on my 30 before 30 list), I finally did it!  I painted a chair turquoise.  But this is a transforming chair that underwent a makeover and makeunder in rapid succession.  Here's the first reveal (because who likes to wait until the end of a post?):

I feel like a ta-da is in order.  Although I try to be pretty DIY productive, some projects sit on the back burner forever and when they are finally completed it feels like a huge deal, although to the rest of the world it might not seem so important.

Here's What I Did:

I started with this basement-dweller, a Value Village find from 2007.  I like the patina but grew tired of it after a few years.  Despite a few missing hunks, it's a good solid chair that is surprisingly comfy (I think because of its curvy back and grooved seat), so instead of setting it free, I banished it to the basement where, unsurprisingly, I covered it in paint by accident.  I ruined the lovely patina, built up over 60 years.

I gave the whole piece a light hand sand, then we used a belt sander to remove the paint from the seat.  We did a rough job so it didn't make one section look brand new while the rest kept its 60 year old patina.  I also left a bit of the paint that had soaked into the grain.  Then I applied strips of painter's tape in a controlled-chaos random pattern.  I wrapped the tape right under the seat, too.

To avoid any unsightly paint bleeding (like with the painted tray), I pressed down the edges of the tape with the handle of a pair of scissors, to make sure it was fully stuck everywhere.

Like we did with the last chair makeover, we hammered in small nails to the legs so the chair would "float" and not get glued to the cardboard with paint.

I applied a couple of thin coats of primer.  I used Rust-oleum Painter's Touch primer in white and loved it!  It has great coverage and went on smoothly and evenly.  I used the whole can, but I was pretty obsessive about painting the underside and getting into all of the little grooves.

Then I started spraying.  I splurged on the paint: Liquitex Professional Spray Paint Viridian Hue Permanent 7.  It's the fancy-pants stuff normally behind a locked cage at Michael's (I'm going to do a follow-up post because the paint was nicer, but trickier, than the hardware store brands).  With a coupon, it was only a few cents over $10 bucks and the coverage was phenomenally rich and dreamy.

I sprayed the underside first, then flipped it over onto the nails and kept spraying.  

I carefully removed the tape while the paint was still tacky, so no scoring was required and no paint was peeled off during the process.  And, sweetness, no leakage!

Please enjoy this excessive number of after photos.

Are you thinking, "cute, but . . . . "?  Me too.  Check back later this week to see the tiny little change.
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September 17, 2012

Reader Q: Why White Walls?

Readers often email me, asking about our white, white walls.  Mostly I get asked about why we chose so much white and if it's easy to keep clean (I buy Magic Erasers in bulk, so yes).  Now that I've lived with peach, yellow and turquoise walls for two weeks, I have to say I miss my white.  It's not that I hadn't tried colour before.  Prior to buying the townhouse, over the years I chose a pumpkin orange, a soft pale green, a bright kelly green, a pale aqua, a buttery cream shade and even a soft chartreuse for walls (not all at the same time, don't worry).

Why do I love white walls?  I have highly personal and purely subjective reasons.  Colour works for many people and I might go for it again one day.  But I am passionately in love with our white walls, and here's a glimpse into why:

1. Our popcorn ceilings (shudder), which are painted the same shade of white, almost disappear.  Of course, you could do this trick with another colour, too, but the white seems to bounce light around as well, helping along the disguise.

Only upon closer inspection can you tell but, somehow, with everything white I don't even really mind the texture anymore . . .

2. The decades old trim (which is skimpy and nothing to write home about) along with the ugly doors and door frames similarly blend in with everything painted white.  I would do anything to avoid drawing attention to these elements.

3. With everything white, the small space (with it's serious lack of windows) looks brighter and more spacious.  I used the same automatic camera setting and similar time of day, but what a different bright white paint makes in this "before" and "after" of our dining room!  Of course the white sheers help diffuse light nicely, too.

4. All white is easy for big painting projects (ahem, every room in two weeks) because there is less cutting/taping and no cleaning/switching brushes between rooms.

5. It's cost effective, too, because we bought 5 gallon pails which are cheaper than by the gallon, and we also had very little leftover, whereas with different colours you often end up with a bit of leftover from each can which can't be carried over to the next room if it's a different colour.

6. But there are fun reasons for loving white, as well: white walls help our artwork and accessories take center stage.

7. It's a classic, timeless choice, just like a crisp white shirt or blouse is a wardrobe staple.  Check out this room from the 60s!  White was fun then, too!

House & Garden, 1968

8. With white walls, I have more flexibility with shuffling things around the house because almost everything will look good against white walls - no clashing!  We have a small budget, so this flexibility really helps.

I wish I owned the Hungarian apartment I'm staying in because, although it's so pretty, I've been dreaming up renovation ideas.  First up?  Paint.  White paint.  Here's my inspiration:


Pinecone Camp

Apartment Therapy

House & Home
The Design Files

Country Living

Of course, there is always too much of a good thing (see below) so stay tuned this week for a fun and colourful DIY project!

Desire to Inspire
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