Monday, August 11, 2014

When You Have A Lot Of Art & Don't Know Where To Hang It...

... try hanging it all in one place.

While unpacking and settling into the new house over the last few weeks, I hadn't been struck by obvious spots to hang many of our favorite pieces of art. But I did like how this colorful dresser looked in the master bedroom - which gave me an idea one day. How about creating an art wall all around it, playing up its cheerful look while finding a spot for many of the pieces? So I hauled in the art from where it'd been stored in the garage, picked pieces that seemed to be calling out the loudest to be hung and began with those.

This chalk drawing is from my father's childhood home, it looked great adjacent to the bright dresser and I liked the idea of hanging it off center above it. That worked, so I went on from there.

Not everything remained where it was originally hung, I had to sit back, contemplate and rework a few areas... luckily I'm not too frightened of creating a few holes in the wall! 

I really liked the mermaid painting below by Jill Mayberg reaching up nearly to the ceiling...

... and how the next piece hung to its right did. (And to the floor on either side of the dresser when the project was done.) Something I didn't anticipate, walking into the room its height is accented because of these pieces running up the wall from the floor to the ceiling. I like that!

My only concern about hanging this art wall was would the end result feel chaotic, particularly in a master bedroom. But it doesn't and I absolutely love lying in bed and seeing all these pieces; it makes me feel happy! There are paintings done by the kids, my maternal grandmother, the dresser itself is from my other grandmother's bathroom. There is a wedding photo, a frame around the date I met my husband, an outsider piece he collected years ago and items picked up during our trips together. Everything here is associated with a really lovely memory, which as a result adds up to creating a sense of happiness. 

This project came with a nice little surprise as well, when standing at the sink in the adjoining master bathroom looking into the mirror, this sliver of the wall is reflected back at me. In its current state this bathroom is really quite dull, and with no plans to spruce it up anytime soon at least this reflection has given it a little life! 

I'm having so much fun dressing up this house, can you tell?!

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Once I Started I Couldn't Stop... Taking Down The Kitchen Upper Cabinets

I've got nothing that pretty to show you at the end of this post, just a blank slate and a demonstration that DIY can be a slippery slope. Once you begin it can be hard to stop and it's probably best to have at least an idea of where you are going! I think I do. 

It started with this one single cabinet hanging up there all alone on the wall. I have a thing about single cabinets somewhat randomly placed in a kitchen, they bug me. So I took it down. It was a bit tricky at first figuring out exactly how it was hung and how to take it down without damaging it, (perhaps it can be used elsewhere, in the garage or even sold or donated) but once I got the hang of it (no pun intended) the job was pretty easy!

And I was crushing on the after. The kitchen felt immediately more open and light.

So naturally, over the next couple of days I kept eyeing this one in the corner every time I passed through the kitchen.

So down it went.

Okay. That was easy. I like it. I'm just going for it!

(And for a little background info so this doesn't seem completely random and crazy stupid, when we moved in I purposely put nothing in all the upper cabinets just to see if we needed them or not, exploring the idea that maybe the uppers could go. So there is a plan. This is the upside of getting rid of so much junk. In the previous house, when I packed up the kitchen, I can't tell you how much stuff I came across tucked into all those cabinets that hadn't even been touched since placing it into the recesses when moving in 6 years prior. All that went bye, bye. And when you don't have extra stuff... you have design options!)

First I took off the doors. Yep, I can see this... they are coming down!

The only hiccup I ran into was some 20 plus feet of wiring tucked behind and running along the top of this wall of cabinetry. Obviously not installed when the house was built, apparently the previous owner had tied in additional wiring to two existing outlets and tucked it away to add under cabinet lighting. It was easy to remove; all I did was turn off the power, open up two switch plates and remove the extensions, afterwards pulling yard upon yard of wiring out from behind the walls. Actually I felt relieved having that wiring gone, who knows if this was even up to code, right?!

Once the wiring was gone it was breeze to remove the remaining cabinets, with the exception of the microwave and cabinet above hiding venting to the outside. I had intended to leave these up until I found the wall hood that would be installed in its place. Oh, what the heck. That looks silly. They're gone too.

(And in case you are wondering about this box moving along under each cabinet as it was taken down, it caught the cabinet for me as it came down off the wall. These suckers were heavy and placing a box underneath made it a safe one person job. Resourceful determination?)

Now this all happened in a morning, and I hadn't woken up intending to tackle this job. Starring at the after wall, I could visualize its future, but could my unsuspecting husband upon returning home that evening?

Luckily I had some of this on hand, and paint. Best to make it look a little prettier before its reveal!

Aw... better! And he liked it, and my vision for where this is going. Phew.

And just where is it going? A range hood has been found and will soon be installed. The walls will eventually be wrapped with planks painted white, new countertops, painted cabinetry and perhaps a couple open shelves. That's the general plan, the specifics will play out one step at a time and I'm pretty excited. I'm not sure exactly why, but I feel an amazing sense of freedom with this house, to make it exactly what I (and my family) want, rather than to be overly concerned with resale value and what someone else might find fabulous. Perhaps because we hope to have this house for a long time, perhaps because we put a significant amount down and I've never actually been so close to fully owning a home. But whatever the reason, I love how this feels and the process of turning this house into our smaller dream home!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

The Power Of A Little Paint To Transform

Nearly every surface in this home needs some sort of attention, at least to my eye, and contemplating that can get a bit overwhelming. For instance, the laminate floor/carpet combo happening throughout the main level. Some day it will all be replaced with a beautiful solid hardwood, but for starters I'm focusing on the easy stuff I can do myself and paint always delivers!

Take this front door. Covered with a dark stain it visually appeared as a dark hole at the front of the home and it's interesting lines got lost in the shadows. So I decided to paint it. Painting is easy, even fun! Sanding is definitely not.

But on the positive side, it makes for a pretty decent arm workout! (And an electrical sander certainly helps.)

Then for the color. SW Bunglehouse Gray looked like the perfect color this time around.

At this stage of the game my boy voiced his strong disapproval... have faith darling!

Aw.... sooooooo much better! Even my critic agreed. The soft tone brings this corner of the house to life, and I love how the lovely lines of the door now get noticed.

If only all the updates planned for the house were this easy!

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Monday, July 7, 2014

One "Room" is Done!

Oh summer... it's simply the best season of the year! Perhaps because I live in the Pacific NW, these long warm days are just such a welcome change from the gray wet days that dominate the rest of the year. To make the most of this short season in the new house, the first "room" on my list to finish was the courtyard.

Thanks to all those clearance sales on outdoor furniture at Target, a garage sale find and a floor model purchased at Pottery Barn, this room was dressed in no time and we've already enjoyed entertaining multiple times over these first two weeks in the house.

Here's to making the most of this season!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Apparently I Woke Up and Had Nothing Better To Do...

Seriously, I had no intention of ripping out a mantel and some tile today. But walking out from the bedroom this morning, gazing upon this somewhat wimpy mantel sporting a hue I've never been a fan of, I knew it had to go. It wasn't doing the house any favors, particularly installed on this fireplace wall rising some 17 feet in the air.

It literally took 15 minutes. A couple screws and a few nails was all it had in its defense.

But shoot. Once the mantel was off, I had no desire to stare at this for any period of time. So those had to go as well.

That took 45 minutes. 

It's a slippery slope, this DIY stuff. This certainly could be made a little prettier... while I decide what will go in its place. So the rough spots were sanded down and a can of the original wall color found in the garage work station made everything at least presentable for the interim. 

Aww... I like it better already. Now it's possible to start visualizing what could be here!

A few weeks ago I spotted this photo of an entry, above on the left, and was completely inspired: something can be done with this house! And on the fireplace wall, perhaps planks running up its height?

 I'm going to live with it for a while and decide.

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