Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Bright Pillows

Another part of our Living Room "Refresh" was to get new pillows.  Since we were looking at adding a bit of citron yellow to our green and cream room, I set out on a mission to add some citron to our pillows.

I stopped at JoAnn's to pick up some great fabric for new pillows.  I found a great citron and cream swirl pattern that would be perfect in the room.  The next step was to find batting.  Now batting is not an expensive material, but it's not cheap either, so I had a thought.  Making new pillows means that we would have to find a place to store our old pillows.  But what if we didn't have to move our old pillows?

The fabric that I had purchased was a thick upholstery fabric, thick enough that color would not bleed through or be seen through the fabric.  So why not just COVER the old pillows?  I purchased 1.5 yards of the fabric for $7.50 - on sale of course!  Then started looking for a pattern for a pillow cover.

I found a great pattern for a pocket cover, so that we wouldn't need any type of clasp, button, zipper and could be easily moved.  So here is the easy step by step!

1.  Measure your pillow.  Take a flexible tape measure and measure from seam to seam across the top of the pillow, so that it's more of a "circumference" measurement.  Be sure to measure it both directions.  Our pillows were 20" square. 

2.  Lay out pieces.  The front piece is the easiest.  You add one inch to your pillow dimension to allow for seaming the cover together - 1/2" on each side.  Because our pillows were 20" square, our front piece is 21"x21".  The back comes in two pieces, one slightly larger than the other to account for the flap.  You want them to overlap to look closed and finished in the back.  I wanted a 3" overlap.  Add 1" to each piece for seaming again.  The two pieces for the back panels were 21"x12" & 21"x13" (21"x11" would make it JUST meet in the center, because I wanted the overlap I added one inch to one piece and two to the other)

3.  I hemmed the exposed edges of the back panels - 1/2" hem (as you can see in the photo above).  Then I pinned the entire pillow together, remember to pin the fabric so that the right sides are facing each other.  You should be looking at the back of the fabric while you are sewing.  I pinned the cover together with the larger flap on the underside of the two flaps, so that it would end up on the outside when turned right side out.  Place the pins in about 2" so that you can sew without having to remove the pins.

4.  Turn the covers right side out and iron flat.

5.  Fill with your existing pillows.

We had enough fabric to make a small bolster pillow, and I had some left over batting in the basement from a past project,  just enough to fill the small pillow.  So for $7.50 and a little hard work, this was the finished product. 

They are so bright and cheery and will make a perfect addition to our final Living Room Refresh.  What do you think?  This project is easy enough for anyone to accomplish!

Magazine Holders

We have been busy this weekend getting a couple little projects done around the house.  If I must admit, I'm a bit of a magazine hoarder.  Not all magazines, just my Real Simple, Family Circle & Martha Stewart Living.  I have some older ones like the beloved and deceased Domino Magazine & a few Self's that I really liked.  I am prepared to box up and cut up a few that I really don't need anymore, but I love to have decorating ideas, design ideas & recipes at my fingertips.  For me, there is nothing like flipping through one of your favorite magazines to find them.

However, with lots of magazines comes magazine storage.... of which we do not have.  So I decided to invest in a quick little project.  I was able to pick up two plastic magazine holders.  They were clear, and I thought, what the heck, this could be a cute little project.  Why don't I spray paint them silver & use them on the shelves in the living room.

This is how we started:

We cleaned them out, and prepared them for spray painting.  We taped the back of each of the grids to keep the inside clear, but coat the outside.  We cut out construction paper and covered the flat surfaces.

The we used a metallic spray paint to coat the plastic.  We put two thin coats on everything.  While they are not perfect, they look pretty great for free!

I had to touch up the one on the right, as the finish was a little too matte, and they look perfect now.  We don't have a final resting place for them yet, but they will be part of the living room refresh.  Look for them in the final pictures!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Our DIY Back Patio

In the summer we tend to spend a lot of time on our back patio.  The patio did not come with the house, it was a project that we undertook by ourselves a few summers ago.  While it was back-breaking work, it's a great amenity to our home & we love spending time there.  It's the perfect space to relax when it's hot outside, as half of it is in shade all day long.  It's also the perfect place to gather with friends around the fire pit in the cooler evenings, drinking beer and roasting marshmallows.

Here is how the project started.  We have a small deck outside of our back door.  Because the grade is three feet below first floor, they needed a transition, so they put up a very small deck.  Well this left a bit of a "corner" in the back yard that was perfect for a patio.  Because the yard is so small it didn't make sense to extend the deck, or the rest of the yard would seem very small.   So we settled on a stone paver patio.  I started doing research and decided to use concrete pavers on a porous bed so that it would drain.  I wanted something that felt very much like a private English Garden.  Something a bit rustic, and sheltered on most of the sides by plantings and lush greenery.

The patio is bound on three sides by things we couldn't or didn't want to move.  The house, the deck and two large honeysuckle bushes that are about 10 feet tall.  So, we measured the area that was available, and figured out the best sized patio for that area.  It worked out to be about 12'x14'.  We found a paver tile that we loved, that were about $5 a piece.  In total we spent about $550 on the pavers.  Now it was time for the hard, and I mean HARD work.

First we strung up cord exactly where we wanted to have the patio.  We put stakes in all 4 corners and used yellow cord to mark the boundaries of the hole.  Next we scored up the grass in that area, removing sod that was about 12"x24"x 4" deep.  We were able to give some of this sod to neighbors, some we used to fill in dead spots in our yard, and the rest went to the city as recycled yard waste.  Then we needed to dig out the rest of hole.  The hole was meant to be12'x14'x9", so we still had about 5" of dirt to remove... that's right, with shovels, we dug out about 126 cubic feet of dirt and grass.

This was what it looked like after removing the top layer of grass and dirt

Next we put in a base layer of recycled concrete.  It's eco-friendly, as it is recycled, it's a bit cheaper than gravel, but still gives the benefit of being a porous layer to drain the water.  It also has the added benefit of helping to prevent vegetation from growing up through the patio.  The 4 cubic yards of very heavy gravel was dumped onto the edge of our driveway.  We had to fill dozens and dozens of loads of concrete into a wheelbarrow and dump them into the hole.  After the hole was full of stone, we rented a tamper to tamp the concrete down, so that the layer became stable, and it made the surface almost walkable.  We were able to get the recycled concrete for free from a friend who works for a demolition company & we rented the tamper from home depot for about $45.

Pardon the shade line, but you can see how most of the area is in the shade!
Also, note the remainder of the gravel pile in the driveway.

The concrete layer was around 3-5" deep, depending on the area.  Our first goal was also to prevent ponding and leaking of water along the foundation & basement wall, so we wanted to slope the new patio away from the house.  So the recycled concrete tended to be thicker near the house and thinner as it moved away.  It turns out that we should have used a level.  While the water definitely stays away from the house now, we didn't slope enough at the end of the patio, and now the water tends to collect in the middle.  However, it drains rather quickly, so we don't mind.  It just leaves dirt deposits in the middle of the patio that need to be swept clean occasionally.

The next layer was about a 1-2 inch bed of paver sand.  We tried to tamp the sand, but quickly learned that the mission was impossible, so we raked the sand so that it was pretty much level the way we wanted it to be.  We bought a lot of paver sand.  The sand came in 30 pound bags and I would guess that we spent about $150 on the sand.

Next we started to lay the stones in rows.  The first row is the most difficult.  It establishes the angle of the patio in both directions.

So we started with the two sides that were most important, and worked our way out from there.  Laying these stones is NOT easy.  You put one down in the sand and make sure it's level.  When you put the next stone down, it needs to be level to the stone before it.  This is the most difficult part.  Most stones were not level when you put them down the first time, so you need to pick them back up, level out the sand, fill in if it's low, and replace the stone.  Each of these paver stones were set at least twice.  This was a very time consuming part of the process.  It is also hard to pick up a 20 pound paver with the tips of your fingers, but that's what you had to do, so that you wouldn't disturb the level sand.

By the time we got to the last two rows, we were spent.  The whole process had taken about 6 weeks at this point, and we were tired of setting stones... but we couldn't just leave it!  We had to get motivated and finish.  Of course we were doing this in June, to get ready for the 4th of July, so it was a bit warm.

We were almost there!  So we laid the last few stones and started to add paver sand in between the stones.  The stones that we purchased were stamped to look like 4 stones in each square, so we put paver sand into each crevice, including the stamped ones to give the appearance of multiple stones.  We would throw down the sand, and carefully push it into the cracks, then swept the surface with a broom at the end to fill in the gaps.

Now we had to deal with all of the rest of the dirt!  We had a lot of dirt that we had just piled up against the house while we were working.  We had dirt piled about 3 feet high along the house and cascading down toward the patio.  This dirt needed to be moved.  The photo below only shows about half of the dirt we were left with.

We were able to give some away, transfer some into planting beds and spread the rest out in another area of our yard, but it was finally gone.  We tilled up the surface dirt around the patio & added the furniture.  Hooray!  We were finally done.  Here is the final product.

The whole patio cost us about $750, way less than it would have cost someone to put it in.  I believe we had heard it would be about $3,000 to hire someone to put in this same patio.  Well worth the 6 weeks of work to do it ourselves!

Since this was several summers ago that we finished the patio, we have added larger beds around the patio and lots of new plants since then.  Moss has started to grow in the joints of the stones and around the back of the patio, which was exactly what I wanted to help it to feel more like an English garden.  Once summer comes around I'll be sure to update with a few current photos, but this is our project.  We are extra proud of it because we did it all by ourselves and it's perfect for us.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Warm Grey Walls

When we painted our guest bedroom, I had a simple dusty beige color in mind.  Turns out that what we ended up with was a little more yellow-brown & not exactly what we were looking for.  But because the purpose of the room was to house my husband's older, smaller bedroom set & to make a comfy place for our guests to sleep, browny-beige was what it was, and was on the walls to stay for a while.

The room has yellow curtains that were left by the previous owner.  Nothing flashy, but they work.  There are deep yellow linens with a simple white down comforter.  There are touches of blue in the room, an ice blue fleece at the foot of the bed, a cobalt blue lamp/ end table & blue in the tack board near the desk.  The blue, yellow and beige work well with our other colors upstairs.  However, recently, I have found the perfect color for this room.

Welcome to what I call "Muddy Grey" ---> 
Photo: Martha Stewart Living
While my name for it is nothing short of awful, the color is amazing.  It is warm, it is rich and it looks BEAUTIFUL with yellow.  So while we don't have the money to replace the linens in the room, they would look lovely with this color.  It still has yellow undertones, making it warm, but still 100% a neutral.

Photo: Decor Pad
In fact, when we do get new linens, at least curtains, I would probably go with an even bolder yellow color.  This color is relaxing, very modern, and elegant.  A mix of white and ivory go beautifully with the shade & absolutely everything put up against it will POP against the wall.  And if we've been able to stand the existing color for nearly 4 years, even if it turns out not to be the perfect color, it will be better than what we have, and will be there for a long time.

What would you name this color?  Do you think it works for a guest bedroom?

Spring is Near!

Just a touch of warm weather last week, and now I am craving spring, more so than I was before.  We were able to see some of the daffodils and tulips starting to peak up out of the ground, since the warmer weather finally melted the 2+ feet of snow in our yard.  The sun was warm and wonderful.  But alas, winter has returned with a vengeance, and the inch or more of ice that coated the world this morning was a wake up call that winter is NOT over yet.

So in order to forget about my car, now sitting outside in the ice and snow storm, I wanted to start thinking about spring.  About planting things outside!  Now I do plan on putting together a bit of a container garden this spring, but I also wanted to put together an arrangement of cool pots filled with annuals.  Ferns, ivy, flowers...  I want to arranged a few on the porch to give our house a little extra color, and warm up the porch a bit - so I started browsing for interesting ways to put together a cool arrangement of plantings.

1. Birch Bark:  You are able to buy this as a sheet good from some craft stores.

Available on Etsy HERE
This particular item is a metal urn wrapped in birch bark & I love it.  I think it would be easy to get some cheaper plastic or metal tins, of varying sizes and heights & wrap them in this amazing bark to give them a unified look.  I LOVE this look.  I liked it when I was looking at wedding planning, and I love it now.  You can even wrap up a couple citronella candles for the porch or patio as well so that they match and keep away the pesky mosquito's!

2. Chalk Pots:  Pick up Chalkboard paint at your local hardware store.

Avaliable on Etsy HERE
You can plant your favorite herbs or flowers in pots painted with chalkboard paint.  Write what's in the pot, or if by your front door, leave welcoming messages for your guests.  I think this is great for an herb garden.  Plant your favorite herbs and spices in matching colorful pots, paint on a swatch of chalkboard paint (as shown above) and write what each herb is!  Beware, if they aren't in a covered area, the chalk will wash off with a rainstorm!

3. Wall Paper or Contact Paper:  Pick up a roll of your favorite wall paper, craft paper or contact paper at your local craft store.
Available on Etsy HERE
Because weather would be hard on these, these great metal tins covered in your favorite wall covering or contact paper would be perfect for an indoor garden.  Place one in your kitchen window filled with your favorite spices, or put a couple great green plants in one and place it on your sideboard or in your front window.

4. Reclaimed Wood:  You can purchase reclaimed wood, or use your own to make these great boxes.

Available on Etsy HERE
This particular vessel uses old barn wood to create a great wood box.  Use this as a planter on your patio, or even as a great centerpiece.  You can use it to go around a plastic container, or put a bottom on it, and use it independently.  I think it's perfectly rustic & is a great way to upcycle some old wood from palettes, crates, sheds or barns!

So I plan on getting or making a couple of simple plant stands of varying heights, and arranging cool pots of greens & flowers for a great addition to our front porch and possibly back patio.  These ideas get my head going in the right direction - now I just have to decide which ones I like the best!  I think it might be a combo of the birch bark and reclaimed wood.  I think they work beautifully together & would be easy to put together.

Friday, February 18, 2011

CasaSugar's Weekend DIY

Here were are again.  Happy Friday to all.
Here is a little peak at what's included in this weekend's DIY from CasaSugar.

Photo & How-To: Link

1. Add piping to pillows
2. Ruffled Lamp Shade (shown above)
3. Sliding Bedroom Barn Door
4. Make a bookshelf into a coffee table
5. Open Shelving
6. String Globe Lanterns (Beautiful for weddings or parties)
7. Succulent Art

Check out all the photos & find links to all of the How-To's at Casa's Website.
Follow this link, it will lead you right to it!  Weekend DIY

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It Pulls the Whole Room Together

In case you didn't catch the very slight movie reference in that subject line, it is in reference to The Big Lebowski.  And in the movie, when he is talking about that subject, he is referring to his favorite rug.
But "The Dude" was right...Rugs are something that can literally pull a room together.  They can add color, pattern and texture.  They can tie an obscure color into your rooms' palette.  They can soften a room, or accentuate specific design ideas.  But the main thing is that they can give the room a little personality.
Blotting Carolina Rug - Target

We, at our home, are unfortunately covered in carpeting, for now... but if you know anything about me yet,  I am sucker for a bold, graphic pattern, in a fairly neutral color palette.  And when we do bring out the hardwood floors, the great rugs will not be far behind.  Unfortunately, rugs can be VERY expensive - especially when  you are looking at large area rugs - but there are a few places that you can go to get great discounts.

Coinciding Circles Rug - Target
 Marshalls & TJMaxx, if the stores are large enough, will carry area rugs.  They are usually fairly discounted, and they have great basic patterns.  Garden Ridge, if you are lucky enough to have one near you, has a great selection on modestly priced area rugs.  And one store in particular that has great deals, and should not come as a surprise to anyone, is Target.  They were the source for all of the examples from my post today.

Design Rugs Collection - Target
Depending on which room you are in & the size and layout of your room, you will need different sized rugs to accommodate your need.  You can look for accent rugs, which are usually 5'x7' and smaller or area rugs, which are much larger.

Home Circles Rug - Target

For our living room, we could do a small 5'x7' rug that sits in front of the couch, or a large 8'x10' rug that engages the furniture.  I tend to think that the larger rugs do a better job of pulling a room together.  Engaging the furniture helps to make it feel like one space.  It doesn't have to cover the entire floor, it just needs to slide a few inches under each piece of furniture to connect it all visually.

Using a similar concept, you can separate one large room, into two seperate spaces by using area rugs.  For example,  if you have a large Living Room that you would like to make into a Living / Dining room combination, you could use a bold graphic rug to engage the living room furniture.  You can leave the dining room without a rug, or add a simpler rug under the dining room furniture to make it feel like a different space.  The example below is from the website  You can see that the bold rug in the Living Room space makes it feel very seperate from the Dining Room space.

Photo younghouselove: Link
 One good thing about rugs - they aren't permanent.  You can return them if they don't quite work or you can move them to another room just to change things up.  They are as much of an accessory as a wall hanging or end table.  I plan on having fun with this accessory as soon as the carpet is gone from our floors.

Do you have any other favorite places to get rugs at an affordable price?  Please feel free to share!

Officially Made it to Facebook

Well ladies and gentlemen, we have officially made the jump to Facebook & appreciate all the support we have been getting.  You will be able to find our blog here at blogger, friend us on Facebook, link to our website on Facebook, or follow our website through a Facebook application.  Or you can do all of the above :)

Photo Credit: Link
Our website is being hosted by network blogger on Facebook, and every post that we make here will be brought to you live on facebook.  I thought for sure that it was going to be more difficult than that!  But I am very happy and surprised to say that it's not!

Happy Thursday to all.  I'll be back later today with more good information, but wanted to spread the word of our Facebook joy!  Yay for social media!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Upcycled" Wine Bottles

In keeping with my new desire to talk about ways to be eco-friendly in your daily life, I thought I would share with you a couple amazing examples of upcycling wine bottles.  "Upcycling" is reusing something in a way other than it was first used.  For instance.  If you have a shower curtain, and it's gotten old, and you decide to use it as a drop cloth when painting - that's upcycling.  It's sort of a play on the recycling trend by recycling something for a new purpose instead of putting it in a blue bin or bag.

Today I'd like to focus on a topic that is close to me right now, as I am trying to remove tricky labels... Wine Bottles.  Wine bottles can be used for many things.  We plan on upcycling a few wine bottles as vases in our living room, but here are some of my favorite wine bottle upcycling ideas:

1. Drinkware:

Find these on Esty by following this LINK
These glasses are old wine bottles.  The narrow portion of the bottle is cut and removed & the top is cleaned up for usage.  Most of the people that make the glassware reheat the bottles to give them a smooth edge.  I think it's a great way to reuse the bottles & a great way to use recycled glass for drinkware.  The cobalt blue glass is my favorite.  Check out Etsy for all kinds of these glasses, ones made from beer bottles, liquor bottles, some are etched - great idea!

2. Lighting:

Photo of Jordan & Landon's house from - their house was featured
on younghouselove
Ever wonder what people can do with all the tops that they cut off the bottles to make the glasses?  Here is a great photo where they were used to make a light fixture.  The green and yellow bottles are lovely & they are housed with a hand made wooden box.

3. Outdoor Tiki Torches:
Photo Credit & How-To: Link
Here is a super unique way to light your patio without having to mow around tiki torches shoved in the ground.  These old wine bottles get a new life as outdoor torches.  Follow the link  under the photo for the how-to instructions.

4. Wall Mounted Vases:
Photo Credit & How-To: Link
Here is a great way to add a little punch of color to any room without having to buy a new vase, or set anything on the table!  Check out the link under the photo for the How-To.  I like the paint on the wall to tie the table and vases together.

5. Candle Holders:

Photo Credit & How-To: Link
Here is another use for all of those bottle tops!  A grouping of these would look amazing on any one's dining room table as a great centerpiece, or even for a restaurant or winery wedding reception!
There are dozens of ways to use everyday items as something new in our life.  I found at least 10 other things that wine bottles can be used for while searching for these few uses.   I personally love these ideas and think that everyone could use at least one of them in your own home!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Green-ing" Your Home

I suppose the word "Green" is the most famous buzz word of the past 5 years.  Green your home.  Green your new building.  Green your cleaning products.  We have been inundated with the term, so much so, that people outside of the building profession are familiar with the trend.  I know that I have heard it a billion times in the last five years, and while some trends may be just a money making scheme, there are some real merits to making our living spaces more eco-friendly and sustainable. 

Building and being "green" sometimes involve a tricky conundrum - sometimes something very sustainable is the exact opposite of eco-friendly.. take vinyl siding and windows for example.  Their manufacturing process is AWFUL for the enviornment - it's a petrolium based product, which is a finite natural material - but vinyl siding and windows are extremly low, borderline no, maintenance and will last in any installation for well over 50 years.  So which is the better side of this coin, the fact that vinyl sustainable and low mainenance, or the fact that other products are more eco-friendly and use renewable resources?  I guess that's part of the on-going question and really needs to be looked at on a case by case basis.

I am a LEED AP, so I know a few things about making a building green vs. making a building sustainable.  I know a little about what can make the environment happy, and what can just be bought by spending more money... but regardless, taking care of our planet should be in each of our list of top priorities, so I'd like to add a Eco-Friendly Section to this webpage, as well as address ways to make your home more eco friendly.

I will try to stay away from the popular buzz words, but I do think that there are little changes that we can make to make a difference.

One thing that came to mind when going through old emails the other day, was the use of bamboo.  The particular email was from Crate&Barrel, showcasing some of their bamboo accessories (which I will show some of) but there are lots of ways to use bamboo in your home.

Bamboo is a VERY renewable resource.  It has less than a 10-year regrowth cycle.  In fact it can be harvested every 2-5 years.  And there are dozens of ways to use it in your home.

Accessories (as promised from Crate&Barrel)
Bamboo Wastecan, Scale & Hamper from Crate&Barrel

Cabinets:  Bamboo is being used for making cabinets - kitchen and bathroom cabinets.  They are lightweight, sleek and can be stained in just about any color.  They generally have about the same life span of any other wood cabinet.  There is an expressed bamboo "grain" that is a little unlike regular wood that you can see in the photo below:

Photo Credit: Link
Flooring:  Oringinally when you thought of bamboo flooring you thought of the light wood color, lighter than birch almost, however, now they make bamboo flooring in a variety of colors and stains.  There is some debate on whether the product will hold up to wear as well as other wood materials, but because it's such a new material, I think the jury is still out on this one.
Photo Credit: Link

Photo Credit: Link
Sinks:  I found a couple of different places selling bamboo sinks!  To me it looks a little like a salad bowl, but it's beautiful & could be perfect for your sleek bathroom installation.

Photo Credit: Link

Other Miscellaneous Uses:  Clothing and textiles (bedding, towels, clothes, etc);  alcohol; paint brushes, bicycles, cutting boards, fencing, countertops, kitchen accessories, furniture, and hundreds of other items.  We personally have a bamboo cutting board, baskets & have looked into purchasing bamboo sheets - they are incredibly soft!

Now, there is some controversy with the product, like I mentioned before, there is a conundrum.  While this is a very rapidly renewable product, it does have issues.  Bamboo is not as much of a locally grown product as we would like.  There are a lot of labor, transport & subsequent fuel costs involved in bamboo products, especially flooring.  There are very few, if any recycled materials in the bamboo products that you purchase.  Due to area and low labor costs, most bamboo is grown and harvested in China, where there are social issues involved.  Bamboo harvesting can be devistating to the land itself - where short term planing can cause erosion of the nearby soil.  The plant is also considered somewhat of a "weed" branching off and spreading wildly, which becomes an issue when planted near forests, where it has been taking over.

However there are other positives.  The growing of bamboo does not require pesticides, and is considered organic.  For most products there is a long life cycle on the material.  The material is lightweight and does add a lot of weight to your current structure.

For me, using bamboo is one of those things that I can see being a postivie, where less of our old growth forest are being harvested, less of the large trees are being taken down, which to me is more devistating than transport issues.  But you can make your own call.  I vote thumbs up for bamboo.

How have you used bamboo in your daily life?

Laid Back Weekend

So admittedly, I did nothing over the weekend.  I mean, I cleaned and de-cluttered and did loads of laundry, regular house stuff, but I did nothing creative this weekend... Hopefully this week I will be inspired by the warmer temperatures and sunny weather to get some stuff done!

Photo Credit: Link

So what am I working on?  I am working on cutting and hemming the drapes for the basement.  This would be much easier if I actually had an area of floor that was 6'x9' to spread this thing out, however I don't so I am putting it off because it's a chore.  I did fold them over and hang them up to see how they looked in the basement.  I found a few things out by doing this. 

First review, the canvas is much heavier and denser than I thought it would be.  The weight of the drapes pull the pretty taught wire down a bit, so I'm having to take a little extra room off the bottom so they don't drag.  They are also no where near sheer, so the natural light will be diffused a bit.  I think I can prevent some of this by not pulling them entirely to the far wall, leaving the window exposed to the room.  I suppose when I cut the extra 2-feet of fabric off of them, they will be a bit lighter!  And now I get to start thinking of projects to do with the extra 2-feet of fabric!

We have also started the "yellow-ifying" of the living room.  I purchased a great citron and cream fabric to make new pillows.  I am also debating getting some great fleece in the citron color and mixing it with a cream fleece color to make a bright throw for the room.  I also got some great citron yarn to make flowers from.  It matches the fabric perfectly.  I'd like to get a few lighter weave baskets for the fireplace, to punch up that area, but that will have to wait until I find them on the clearance rack somewhere!

I also started taking labels off the wine bottles that I want to use for the yarn flowers in the living room, but it's such a pain!  So I thought I'd do a little research on the best way to remove pesky labels and share that information with you today.  Sometimes removing the label is as easy as soaking it in soapy water, but what your left with is a sticky mess on the bottle, and when it's the bottle, not the label that you are after, this doesn't help.  Here is some information that I have found on the subject.

Photo Credit: Link

1. The most commonly suggested method is one that I've used many times, some with success, some without.  Fill your sink with warm water.  Add 2-3 drops of dish washing liquid.  Put the bottles in the water and let them fill so that they sink to the bottom.  Leave to soak for 20 minutes.  Some labels will peel off, some won't.  A lot of places suggest using a razor to scrape off the excess.  I suppose I could give this a try, and pray that I don't slice a finger open!  My biggest problem with this is that there is usually sticky adhesive left on the bottle and the dish washing liquid doesn't always dissolve it.  Using this method along with another mentioned below might be the golden ticket!

2. Cooking Oil:  Most people say that saturating it with cooking oil will take the sticky right off.  I thought I had figured it out myself because the label of the olive oil bottle, where saturated with oil peeled right off.  So I tried this method.  I painted on vegetable oil onto each bottle.  I peeled off the loose label, then applied again.  Nothing, this didn't work at all.  I am going to try it one more time with olive oil, and a cotton ball or old rag, which is what some people suggest... we'll see if that works.

3. Fingernail Polish Remover:  This is another product that people suggest using.  Apparently some of this on a cotton ball will take the goo right off.  I haven't tried this yet, but I might get desperate.

4. Goo Gone:  We have some of this in the basement, I suppose I'll try it, but this isn't really sticky adhesive, it's dried glue with bits of label on it, very stubborn, I'm not sure if goo gone will get rid of this mess.

5. Lighter Fluid:  This one was the most surprising to me.  I'm not a fan of using flammable liquids for cleaning purposes, nor do I like using them inside the house, but dozens of people are claiming that this is THE trick to use.  I'm not sure that I will be trying this.. sounds dangerous and smelly!

6. Ammonia:  People claim that if you soak a rag in ammonia and apply it to the label for two hours, it will immediately peel the label right off.  If it's being extra stubborn, you are to reapply the rag for another hour.

7. Hair Dryer:  A lot of people suggest warming up the label with a hair dryer, to re "goo" the adhesive, making it easier to remove.  Hold it 5" away for 15 seconds. Some even suggest filling the bottle with really warm water to achieve the same effect.

8. White Vinegar:  Soak a rag in white vinegar.  Let rag sit on the label for 10 minutes, remove and remove the label.

So as you can see there are a bunch of recommended different ways.  I think that perfect method lays somewhere in-between, and the odds are that different adhesives probably like different methods better.  Regardless, I need to do something to get all of the bottles off of my kitchen counter top.  I'll make another post when the bottles are clean, and let you know what worked for me!

Friday, February 11, 2011

CasaSugar's Weekend DIY

It's Friday & Casa is bringing us a whole new batch of Weekend DIY!
Here is a list of the projects that they have up for this weekend:

Photo & Project HERE

1. DIY Sillouhette Headboard
2. Boot Dripper (photo above)
3. Photo Display
4. Cover and old Lampshade
5. Valentine's Day Matchbook Card
6. Felt Ball Trivet
7. Message in a Bottle Valentine
8. DIY Valentine's Day Cards
9. Turn an old rug into a beautiful block print rug

Check them out for yourself here: Weekend DIY

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Grey & White Bedroom

Today I'm going to do a slightly different take on my Inspiration Boards.  I was totally inspired by West Elm's new catalog, and can't rave on enough about one particular bedroom set up.  It made want to literally jump into bed in this bedroom.  It's elegant, modern - using clean line and modern, but classic colors.  It made me want to talk about it, and find ways that you could bring this look into your bedroom today without totally copying it out of the catalog.

Take a look at this bedroom and tell me that you don't love it -
Photo: West Elm
I love that the cool grey color almost seems warm against the stark white room.  But I do think that there are a few things that you could add or substitute to put together this look on a budget.

First you have to start with the grey rosette quilt.  The one that is shown is by West Elm, of course.  It is the ruffled circle quilt & shams.  There is something about the texture of the ruffled rosettes that really draws me to this particular quilt, as I have not always been a fan of quilts.  It looks soft and comfortable while still being totally chic.  Are there substitutes out there, sure, but I would splurge on the real thing - it's worth it.

Next you will want to add a modern, white headboard.  The one that is shown is the Moroccan Headboard by West Elm - but almost any open weave headboard could give the same effect.  I would go with something that is a solid wood, and not a metal headboard, as the wood cutouts offer a sturdy look, while still a glimpse of the wall behind.

Next you will want to pick a light grey color to put on the wall.  Something preferably a few shades lighter than the quilt itself.  It will be a nice "in-between" color to mesh the white and the grey.  Add a bright white trim to keep the contrast.  You could do a very light grey ceiling or keep it white.

Colors: Lily White, Iced Cube Silver, Gray Cloud & Bunny Grey by Benjamin Moore
 You can keep the look crisp and fresh by adding white furniture - dresser, nightstands and even large white framed mirrors on the wall and a standing mirror on the floor.  These accessories will pop against the grey walls.  Add silver pulls to keep with the grey theme.

I like adding other white, grey and silver accessories like different pillows, throws, vases, even figurines to the nightstands.  Mercury glass would also look great here.

Linear Glass Blown Candle Holders - West Elm,
Grey Oblong Leaves & Fieldcrest Luxury Decorative Pillows - Target,
Set of 3 Myah Wall Panels, Target, Rococo 3 Wall Art, Target,
Footed Mercury Hurricane - West Elm
 But what really sets off the whole room is the nice touch of natural accents.  In the photo you will see one basket and a desk lamp, but I think you can add a touch more natural color and still get the great grey and white contrast.  Try a natural floor, or a natural throw.  You could have a bedside chair in a natural tone or a rattan chest.

Organic Ruched Throw & Mongolian Lamb Pillows - West Elm,
Jack Table Lamp - Crate&Barrel, Castela Trunk - Target,
Square Seagrass Storage Basket - Target, Tarkett Oak Flooring - Home Depot
  Put it all together and you have your own modification of this room.  I'm totally in love with grey right now, and wish that we had chosen to paint at least one room this great color.. maybe we'll take another look at the half bath walls before the re-do takes place.

Could you ever do a room almost completely in grey and white?  Personally, I know that I could.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

We have lamps!

After what seems like a year long search, we have finally found lamps for our bedroom!  They are perfect.  Let me introduce you to these beauties:

The lamps have a glass bottom, sort of in the shape of an upside-down acorn squash.  The glass is a smoky quartz color.  The shades are a pearly mocha and the accent is silver.

Ignore the mess & the brightly striped sheets - they are our flannel sheets - probably on their last year of life, but really warm, so we sacrifice look for function!  But you can see the edge of the duvet and the headboard.  The lamps match perfectly.  We got them from Marshall's for $30 each!  What a deal.

This gives us inspiration and motivation to get that other table built!  It still sits in pieces on the basement table...

Speaking of the basement - just to give you a quick update on the basement project, we got our "curtain rod" system in the mail this week and installed it this weekend.  We hung the hangers and now I just need to quickly cut and hem the drop clothes to make the curtains.  Here is a quick sneak peak of the progress.  These were fairly easy to put up, but it took some time to get the cord perfectly taught.

I have no idea exactly how long it will take to make the curtains, but they are in the works!  Right now they are 5'-9" x 8'-9" and they need to be 5'-9"x6'-5", so there is a couple feet to take off the end, but I'm thrilled to have this room done!

Have a great week everyone!  I'll update you on the progress as it gets done.  I can't wait to share the after picture!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This Season's Colors

There is nothing like curling up on the couch with a new magazine or catalogue.  They inspire SO many ideas, so many things I'd like to do.  I just never have the money to go "all out" and change up the room.  However, I have been wanting to make a few changes to our living room, just to freshen it up.  And I think I have some creative ways to do this.  Since our basement project was our January project (I promise an update on that soon), the living room update will be our February project.  Something to make our house a little springy.

First of all, I figure that this is the best time to introduce you to our living room?!

Here area a couple shots that we took when we were looking at the house:

And here is the current shot of our living room:

Our color palette for the living/dining room has been a light green, dark green, cream and dark red.  It's a lovely combo, and I'm sure that for the cooler months I will go back to it, but in looking through our catalogues lately, both West Elm and Crate & Barrel have me inspired to try a new look, a new palette if you will.

Light Green, Medium Green, Dark Green, Cream & Citron (very similar to Chartruse).
Here are a few photos from their recent catalogues just for inspiration:
Photo Crate&Barrel

Pillows from West Elm
Vases from West Elm

Rug from West Elm
 I think that this style would work wonderfully in our room.  The fireplace is a creamy yellow and will really tie the theme together beautifully.  So here are a few "easy on the budget" items that I have planned.  First I am going to switch up the pillows on the couch, some green, some yellow, some a mix of both.  I am going to hit the Home Goods stores, as well as Pier1 and World Market to see if I can find any of these colors on sale.  Because they are springs colors, it might be difficult to find, but that is my first quest.

Pillow - Crate&Barrel
I'd like to get a nice light cream throw to put on the back of the chaise part of the sectional.  Something with a nice modern texture.  Something like this throw from Ikea - The Ofelia
I am going to do a craft project using old green, yellow and clear wine bottles for the mantle.  I will be using a great little project that I found at Country Living.  Here is a photo of the project... just imagine the "flowers" in shades of green in great colorful vases.  I will be detailing this project for the blog as soon as I get started on it. 

Photo: Country Living
I'd like to find a couple of old drinking glasses and put a few votives in to mix in with the photo above.  I'm going to check the same discount stores for these as well as possibly checking out Goodwill for some antique type glasses.

And the last one is a maybe... just maybe, if I get really fancy, I might even throw in a couple of Citron window panels on the ends of the rod, with the cream panels for a little extra color.  Or maybe a citron fabric with a pattern in cream.

I am going to attempt to put this together this weekend, lets see how it goes!  I'll update you as soon as it's finished.

Meanwhile, my sister has purchased for me, and put in the mail my curtain rod for the basement curtains - YAY!  I'm very excited to get that in the mail & get the basement on the path to "finished".

Expect lots of fun at our house very soon!