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

June 28, 2013

Lake House Renovation Plans: Phases ONE, TWO and THREE

The Lake House Look:

It's so exciting to take on another whole-home makeover, especially one where I can get a little crazy!  With the townhouse, I had to make design decisions that worked with the existing elements, the overall feel of the house, its conservative facade, and some imaginary buyer's taste.  I tried to pick modern/traditional upgrades that would appeal to a broad range of buyers and not look out of place.  The lake house, however, is a more permanent spot for us and I see it as a blank canvas - I don't have to live with anything I don't like.  Well, at least not forever.  Although it is going to take some time (likely years), eventually I am going to transform the dated space into a stream-lined, casual, mid-century inspired retreat where I plan on becoming the craftiest recluse ever.  I'm going to be living a beach life, so I want to simplify.  Less stuff to dust, less stuff to store, fewer tchotchkes.  I want simple, open, airy spaces with my trademark shots of colour but even more statement-making details.  I'm going bolder, but cleaner.  Even my palette is getting a makeover: oranges and yellows will be limited, in favor of soothing greys, creamy whites, but a stronger injection of bright colour, limited to blues and aquas.

Emily Henderson; Houzz; Apartment Therapy; Desire to Inspire
The Lake House Plan:

I'm going to do a Money Talks post soon about mortgages and talk a bit more about how we're balancing everything, but suffice to say expensive renovations just aren't on the books right now.  Even if we did have the funds, I want to live in the house for awhile and really figure out what I want from the bathrooms (two sinks? one sink? bigger window? makeup vanity?), kitchen (open shelving? glass front cupboards? white, grey, wood?) and living area.  But I can't live with oak trim and cupboards!  So Hubs and I are devising a three-part plan.

PHASE ONE: Inexpensive Cosmetic Fixes

Phase One will be fun!  I have a crazy kitchen update planned, fun ideas for sprucing up the bathrooms (and drawing your eyes away from the portal), and a bevy of affordable fixes for modernizing the space.  We'll be doing a bolder version of our patented "spit and polish" to spruce up the space on a dime.  We just want it livable and lovely, so we can save for bigger updates.  I'll share room-by-room plans in July, but here's a taste of what I'm currently thinking for our oak-overload kitchen: turquoise lower cupboards (!) and light countertops paired with open shelving.  Imagine my Pyrex collection out in the open!  I'm going to pare back our plates and bowls so we just have what we need - no excess.

Via Dustjacket
The Decorating Files
I'm also excited to do things I wanted to, but couldn't do, in the townhouse, like paint a ceiling turquoise!

PHASE TWO: Investing in Classics

Phase Two will complement phase one but will also involve furniture and moveables.  I always love a mix of high & low, so Phase Two will see Hubby and I continuing this mix and match.  But now that we're putting down roots and decorating a "forever" home, I want to make careful decisions and invest in some pieces I know we'll love (and that will stand the test of time).  So . . . although we're going to immediately replace a boatload of boob fixtures with something like this inexpensive Ikea fixture:

Ikea Vanadin Light - lovely glass flush mount fixture, for only $24.99!

I plan on also investing in a gorgeous, timeless, George Nelson bubble lamp for the dining room.  Actually, I'm loving the look of a trio, and might even choose two smaller bubble lamps as pendants over the kitchen peninsula/bar (where dated pot lights are barely hanging on).

Photos from Modern Conscience, also available from Modernica

But to balance the high/low scale again, for the guest house DIYing something like this dipped drum shade might be a blast!  I'm still pleased with how my DIY dyed dress turned out and I'm itching to dip something (now that the trend is almost totally overdone, I'm ready!).

Fiona Bleu Gallery

To help our pocketbooks, expect many more DIY furniture makeovers and things we'll build from scratch (like this desk!).  I'm currently going crazy pinning furniture I love to get inspiration for some handmade pieces.  This sideboard had me at welded legs.
Vintage Sideboard - love the metal legs!

Saving cash in some areas will help us splash out on a few beautiful pieces.  Right now, I'm eyeing these bar stools.  Can't stop thinking about them.  The grey will look amazing with my kitchen plans (now and future), although the creamy white is such a classic too.  Their easy-to-clean surface makes them perfect for my new low-key living.  An investment to be sure, but if we save up and spend wisely on a few things that will last us forever, we'll be far better off than finding cheap substitute after cheap substitute. 
Fiberglass Shell Barstools from Modernica, originally designed by Charles Eames

PHASE THREE: Major Renovations

In this phase, we'll totally re-do the kitchen, main bathroom, guest powder room, guesthouse, and guesthouse bathroom with a total gut job.  Shiny new everything, installed by us to save cash.  We'll need to save major bucks and Phase Three will take years, but hopefully we'll tackle the main bath in a year or so, the guest house bathroom and half bath next and the kitchen after.  If we save, space them out and pounce on good deals, it can be doable.  I think.  We'll see.  I'm going to make Phase One awfully pretty, just in case Phase Three is further in the future than I think!!

One day, we'll have a stream-lined kitchen with cupboards that make use of the vertical space (our kitchen has a tinier footprint than what we have now!) and have a simple profile.  The one below combines a pale aqua, mix of closed and open storage plus a turquoise kettle that makes me weak in the knees and panting with envy, with the stainless steel appliances and WOOD that Hubby prefers.  Add a white herringbone tile backsplash and I'd say this kitchen was meant for us.

Apartment Therapy
 But this grey kitchen is pretty dreamy too.  A neutral space that can evolve as our tastes do.

Incorporated NY

PHASE FOUR: Buy a Papa Bear Chair, Upholster it Turquoise

Haha.  Just kidding.  Phase Four requires a lottery win (or some excellent thrifting mojo), but if it happens I'll buy you one too, Dana.

June 26, 2013

Basement Update: Easy Solution for Hiding an Ugly Washer and Dryer

How to hide an ugly washer and dryer
Laundry room curtain

After we drywalled and painted (including painting the floor a bright turquoise), the laundry room still had some unattractive elements: a really old washer and dryer, water tank, slop sink and mess of pipes.

Aqua painted floor

I needed a cheap solution to help make the space look nice, especially from the adjacent room.  I had to think long and hard about a solution that would work for us because so many inspiring laundry room makeovers involve a new washer and dryer!  In the end, we came up with something easy and inexpensive: curtains!  We installed Ikea curtain rods as close to the ceiling as possible (although we originally priced out DIY rods, the whole shebang, including the drapery rings, was only sbout $30.00 at Ikea so we ditched the DIY plans).

Once the bar was installed, my Mom was roped in to do some sewing.  Anyone recognize the fabric???

It's our old duvet cover!  I loved the pattern but never really liked it with the DIY'd headboard.  When we replaced the bedding with crisp white linens, I didn't want to just get rid of the old stuff, so I hoarded it in the linen closet.  When my basement inspiration featured DIY stamped fabric with a faded black pattern, I knew I had just the fabric to achieve the look.  Mom cut open the duvet cover and simply hemmed the edges.  One problem: they were a bit floody.

I like my curtains to just touch the ground, puddling a tiny bit, so we used the old black bedskirt to add a border.  We opted for a thick border so it looks intentional and adds a bit of weight.  And we may or may not be using the rest of the fabric to lengthen a super-short dress to cover my skull-crushers.

Now the ugliness is hidden but easily accessed.  Peekaboo! 

Plus, I can access one side while keeping the other hidden.  Although both sides look much better closed!  I thought curtains might be a hassle, but I just push them aside with my bum when my arms are occupied carrying a laundry basket. They slide really easily on the rings. A door on the laundry room would be a solution too, but it's a sub-standard size plus blocking off the room right at the doorway made the basement seem closed off and weird.  Also, opening a door with a laundry basket is much less convenient.  I can still toss things in the hamper or take things off the dry line without touching the curtains.  It works for us!  When I show photos of the rest of basement, you'll see how sharp the laundry room looks now from the rest of the basement.

Laundry room curtains

It's so hard to take a good photo in the laundry with NO natural light, but I'll take a stab at better shots for a full "after" tour!

P.S. I've had a few people, over the years, ask me where we got the black and white tree bedding.  It was purchased from HomeSense and I long threw away the packaging, but I happened to find a very similar bedding set on Amazon for anyone trying to track it down.
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June 24, 2013

Paint a Mid-Century Coffee Table Mint

Mint mid-century coffee table

Hold the phone, Tanya has a coffee table. 

If you know me, you know that I HATE coffee tables and am madly in love with our tufted ottoman.  When Hubs and I sink into the sofa for some T.V. time, we really get into it.  The more horizontal we can slouch, the better, and a cushy ottoman facilitates this.  I know it's cool to say we don't watch T.V. or have cable, but we actually love our television and we love to Lounge (capital L).  A coffee table does not facilitate lounging, with its pointy corners and hard top.  It facilitates prim cocktail hour.  And leaves little bruises every freaking time I bump into it. 

But there's a mid-century modern coffee table in a lovely shade of mint that now graces our living room, and I have to admit that this leggy coffee table looks amazing!  It shows off the living room's spaciousness much better than our behemoth of an ottoman, which is what we need for staging our home for sale.
Mid-century coffee table painted makeover

It's actually a funny story how the coffee table came to be.  I was yard saling with a friend and we spotted it - for free - at a yard sale right between our houses (we live very close to one another).  I'd always thought the townhouse would need a coffee table for staging and so I wanted to pick it up, but because we weren't planning on selling the house for a year, and I wasn't even sure it would fit in the car, I passed.  I thought about it all morning though, and at the end of the day we drove by again to see if it was still there.  It was!  I figured it was free so if it was too much of a bother to store for a year, I'd pass it on to someone else.  My friend and I crammed it into the car, and only a few days later we found and eventually bought the lake house.  What luck, right?  It was meant to be.

Poor table though, it had seen better days, so I decided to give this retro coffee table a simple and affordable makeover with paint!

Painted Furniture Makeover - Before
Paint a water damaged coffee table

The table had some major water damage and because the top is only veneer, restoring the wood wasn't a viable option so I gave it a light sand and a coat of spray primer.  Then I gave it two coats of mint coloured latex paint (the free can!) using a brush for the legs and a small, low pile foam roller for the flat surfaces.  A coat of varnish helped seal it.  My only regret: I should have waited for the paint to cure longer before applying the varnish because it smudged the paint in a couple of places.  Not a problem for me because this is just for staging.  But if I do a top coat again on painted furniture (I never do), I won't rush the coats.

Painted furniture tutorial
How to paint wood furniture
Mint painted table makeover

It's amazing how much larger the living room looks with this sleek new coffee table, and I love how the mint green is identical to the mint in the pillows.  It also complements the warm teak and natural brick hues nicely.

 Living room with cream sofa and teak accents
How to Stage a Living Room for Sale
Townhouse small living room decor
Small living room layout

We've tackled some other projects in an effort to stage our townhouse for sale and you might spot another of these updates in the photo above: we finally painted our baseboard heaters!

Mid-century modern coffee table makeover
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June 20, 2013

Basement Update: How to Paint a Concrete Laundry Room Floor Turquoise

Nothing like a looming MLS listing to light a suitably sized fire under our butts when it comes to projects.  We prioritized our to-do list and because the rest of the house has been updated over the years and looks quite spiffy, we tackled the dragged-on-for-eighteen-months basement makeover first.  People have built houses in the time it has taken to paint and tidy our basement!  Our house is to be listed as a partially finished basement because about one third of it is taken up by a walled off, unfinished storage room with a door, but a "partially finished basement" doesn't mean we can literally leave our projects partially finished (darn).  We started on the floor right away, knowing it would take a week to fully cure.

Here's how we painted our concrete laundry room floor a cheery shade of aqua!

The secret is in the right supplies:

We used Sherwin Williams Porch and Floor enamel in satin, which I bought un-tinted during a sweet 50% off sale.  After we narrowed down floor colours, I combed through my hoard of turquoise paint chips to find a shade that looked right in the window-less laundry room and Valspar's "Dive in"(CI 249) took the cake.  It's vibrant and not too green but not too blue - the perfect turquoise.  In the photos it looks pale, but in reality it's richer than even my turquoise chair makeover

How to paint a concrete floor

How to apply porch and floor enamel: 

How to paint a concrete laundry room floor

First we vacuumed and washed the poured concrete floor (the old carpet that was there wasn't glued down at all - whew).  We let the wet floors dry overnight.  Then we moved the washer and dryer to the middle of the room and painted behind them.  The enamel cured quickly, so we pushed them back and then did the rest.

A paintbrush was needed for the edges, but then a roller made for concrete floors made light work of the rest of the room.  Although we walked on it later that day, we planned to wait a full week to return the laundry hampers and other stuff to the room.  A few days later though, I noticed one coat wasn't enough (some patches of the original grey peeked through) so we swept it quickly and applied another coat.  We had to start the clock again and wait another full week, so it was a good thing we started as soon as we bought the lake house!

This was a smelly job but only took an hour or so to apply the first application and only twenty minutes for the second coat.  So far, it still looks perfect!  This isn't meant for garage floors (shame) but it works well for our purposes.  The gallon we bought was twice what we needed.

What kind of paint to use on concrete floor
Tips for painting concrete floor

Handy Hubby was such a cutie during the painting process.  We painted the walls together but then he painted the floor while I worked on making the rest of the basement livable.  I tried to snag a few good photos of him, but he likes to remain as anonymous as possible.  He jumped out of most photos, or looked really, really pained.

Can you paint a laundry room floor?

The fruits of his labor are what you're here to see anyway!  With the walls freshly painted the same colour as the rest of the basement (including the stairwell), the new floors make a formerly grungy space look fresh and cheery. 

Sad basement laundry room
Budget basement laundry roo makeover
Aqua laundry room floor

The walls, floor and light fixtures are all looking sharp but let's be honest: our washing machine and dryer are work horses, not show ponies, and the paintbrush-rinsing-sink (it serves no other purpose), water heater and mess of plumbing and wires really seem to pop out now.  I asked Hubs to paint the rusty legs of the old sink and that was a super quick fix that made it look less sad, but there's a bigger, better, beautiful solution my Mom and I cooked up . . .

How to make over a laundry room with NO money - the before
Floor painted turquoise

UPDATE: See how we hid the unsightly washer, dryer and hot water tank with a pretty set of curtains made from old bedding by clicking here.  You can also see more of the basement here and here.
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June 17, 2013

8 Pretty Ways to Update Your Knife Block with Paint

When I painted our knife block on a whim, it never dawned on me to see if there were other knife block makeovers around - turns out that quite a few people have painted their knife blocks!

I love this project because it makes use of something most people already have (and might hate).  Our knife block wasn't just plain, it was also very shabby.  I still feel this sense of pride that I used what we already had, saving us money.  I DIY a lot so this isn't really new, but there's something about this project (because it's something I use daily, and not an accessory or art) that feels like I accomplished something. 

Some more inspiration for you:

Offbeat + Inspired
Angel Food Design
Live Love DIY
The Creative Imperative
Although simply painting a knife block is enough effort to make it look good, I think the extra work of painting the silhouettes of the knife blades makes this one look really polished.

Country Living
This one isn't a tutorial - but I love the inspiration for a dipped knife block, especially one with a rustic feel.

Rue Magazine

P.S.  I saw this one on Pinterest and it looks so familiar.  I'm flattered!

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