Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Blue on Blue

Since we decided to use two different colors of paint in the bedroom, we had to figure out how to incorporate them both. For a while we considered doing a chair rail and putting the lighter color above and the darker color below. I was thinking about going with a faux board and batten look, but then I decided two colors might make the room look too choppy, since the ceilings in the bedroom aren't very high. And I started seeing all these great wall stencils, so I suggested stenciling an accent wall. James was down with the idea. He gave some input, but he pretty much left the decision of what stencil to choose up to me. Now, my friends and family will tell you that selecting among an array of options is not my strong suit. I dither. One of the great things about being a vegetarian is it makes it much easier for me to order from an menu.

So it took me a few weeks to decide. There are so many gorgeous choices, like this from Cutting Edge Stencils and this from Olive Leaf Stencils. Eventually, after much agonizing, I settled on this damask from Royal Design Studio. Criteria I used to help narrow it down included: not too girly (read floral), not too geometric (I have an upholstered headboard planned that will be very geometric and I wanted contrast), not to much negative space in the design, so as to incorporate a good amount of our darker color into the room, and something more classic than trendy so that we won't quickly tire of something that took hours to do. The 10% off coupon code for this seller from Young House Love (YHL10) didn't hurt, either.

Compared to deciding which stencil to use, actually stenciling was a breeze, despite the fact that it took about eight hours to finish. I did a fair amount of googling about stenciling before I started. I wanted it to be as easy as possible. The most important tip I found was to use repositionable spray adhesive. I bought the adhesive seen above at Michaels. You spray the back of the stencil, and it keeps the paint from bleeding under the stencil. It worked like a charm. The edges came out really crisp. I took the stencil out to the back yard, laid in the grass, and gave the back a couple of thin and even coats with the adhesive.

The stencil I chose was 21 x 24.5 inches, which helped move the process along, so I shudder to think of how long it would have taken with a smaller stencil. I started in the center of the wall at the ceiling, which is recommended if you are doing one wall to make sure it comes out evenly on either side. The process was to position the stencil on the wall using the guide marks and the level. The stencil has extra little floating cut outs outside the main design that you use to match it up. You can see them in the pictures above. I used a level each time I repositioned the stencil just to make sure it didn't get wonky. Then I would roll the paint on in a couple of thin coats using a small roller, like this. I just used regular, full strength latex wall paint. I didn't worry about getting absolutely perfect coverage, since you with a pattern like this you really notice the big whole effect more than the tiny details. We bought a quart of Smoke Screen, which was more than enough for this project. Over time, it did gum up the stencil, so halfway through I washed it off with warm water, and then reapplied the spray adhesive. You could probably avoid the washing step if you thinned the paint, or used craft paint instead of latex. You'd still need to reapply the spray adhesive, because it wore off after a while.

I was able to do the bottom of the wall and the corners by taping the baseboard (or opposite wall, for the corners) and bending the stencil. You can see that above the previous paragraph. That didn't work for the top of the wall, though because gravity worked against me. Even with tape, the stencil wouldn't stay stuck to the ceiling, so after I had finished nearly everything but the top, I cut the stencil. Above you can see the parts I needed to cut the stencil to do. The bottom corners didn't really work that way either, because two folds was too tricky.

And here you can see the stencil after I cut it. I wish I would have taken a picture of how I marked the stencil to cut it, because it worked well but is hard to describe. I stuck the stencil on the wall, matching it up to one of the designs I had already stenciled.  Then I took my level and lined it up to the tops of the designs on either side and marked the line straight across the stencil with a Sharpie. I peeled the stencil off the wall and cut it with a regular pair of scissors. I had no plans to use the stencil again, so I didn't mind cutting it. It made it far easier to finish the stenciling.

I absolutely love the results. It really adds a lot of interest and gives a whole different feel to the room. I'm pleased with the colors and the pattern. It was well worth the effort.  I was surprised that even though it was fairly time consuming to do, it actually went really smoothly. I didn't really have any trouble. I just turned on some music and cranked it out. Next time I'll talk about installing the new floors, which you can see a bit of here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Coat of Paint

You can see the test spots of paint colors on the walls in the last couple of posts. I wanted to go with something completely different from the yellow, something cool, restful, light and airy. James wanted something a little darker and moodier. We decided to incorporate two different shades of blue-grey. Like all the rest of the paint in our house, we used Olympic No-VOC paint from Lowes. The colors are April Sky and Smoke Screen.

In addition to painting the walls, we also painted the ceiling. I say we, but in this case, James actually painted the ceiling. He works four 10 hour days, so he did this on one of the days he has off that I had to work. This is not a fun job, so I seriously appreciate his effort. I know it's not a fun job because I did the ceilings of the other two bedrooms and the hall bath. We have textured ceilings. We weren't too keen on these when we bought the house, but they've kind of grown on us. Obviously it isn't a style that's currently popular or trendy, but it's one of the few features of our typical 1980s suburban home that shows some craftmanship, so I kind of appreciate it for that reason.

The previous owners of our home had had the ceilings of the great room and kitchen painted with a semi-gloss paint not too long before we bought the house. We kind of liked how that played up the texture and made it seem clean and bright, rather than dusty, which can be one of the downsides of textured ceilings. So we've painted the rest of the ceilings in semi-gloss as well. It might not be the choice others would make, but we're pleased with it, and it's our house. :) Above is a night time picture to display the texture. In real life it's more subtle and doesn't look this shiny/harsh. We just used off-the-shelf white semi-gloss, in the Olympic no-VOC. We bought a big 5 gallon bucket, since we knew over time we were doing all three bedrooms and two baths, and the texture soaks up a lot of paint. It actually ended up being a couple of years between the first set of rooms and the second, and we took the paint back to Lowes to have them spin it for us so it would be well mixed after settling all that time.

It's exciting to be pretty much done with the ceilings now, since they're such a pain to do. The only room we haven't painted yet is the laundry room. To paint the ceilings, we just used a deep (3/4 or 1 inch) napped roller. We used a broom handle attachment to the paint roller, and we did the cutting in with a brush and ladder. We taped off and/or removed light fixtures. If you do this, safety glasses are good idea, because paint splatters everywhere! You will get it in your eyes. Also, definitely do ceilings first, then walls. It's helpful if you can just clear everything out of the room, which we had to do in this case anyway since we were also installing floors. If not, be sure to cover everything very well. You will have a very tired neck and shoulders when you are finished. If you are doing a whole house at once, it might be worth renting a sprayer rather than doing it the hard way, like us! Thank goodness we didn't have to do the rooms with the cathedral ceilings ourselves.

Once James got the ceilings done, we tackled the walls. James and I are a pretty good painting team. Chiefly, I'm the roller and James does the cutting in. The rolling is straight forward. I don't have any special tips. I just use the W technique that you'll see in a million how-to tutorials, and try to roll it on in a few thin, even coats. For cutting in, James likes to use an edging tool, like this. It kind of takes some practice, but once you get the knack of it (like James) it means we don't tape off many things. His technique is to apply paint with the edger and then roll over it with a small roller to blend the paint to the rest of the walls. Without doing that, the edger leaves a brushed on look. Then we use a brush to get the corners and any other tight spaces the edger won't reach. Here is our lovely April Sky colored room. We're really pleased with the color. I like how it looks different in different lights. It's kind of fascinating to see it go from blue to grey to white to purple depending on the time of day and part of the room. I'll be back tomorrow to talk about what we did with Smoke Screen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bye Bye Borders

I have never liked the wallpaper border in our bedroom, which you can see here. Since the previous owners used the room as an office, the pattern of books and a teapot didn't really feel appropriate to a bedroom. The repeat was very frequent, which I found a little annoying. I thought the dark colors made the ceiling feel lower, and that it was too much of a contrast with the pale yellow paint. Yet it took me almost three years of living here before I finished taking it down earlier this summer in preparation for painting.

I removed the border from the window wall about two and a half years ago when we installed the curtains. We didn't want to install the hardware over the border. Somehow I never made the time to finish the project. I was really lucky that there was no other wallpaper in the house, considering how (clearly not very) motivated I was to take down this small amount. When we were house hunting we looked at another house in this neighborhood that had wallpaper in nearly every room. I'm so glad we got this house, or I'd probably still be living with lots of '80s era wallpaper. Thankfully, borders are not too difficult to remove, and this one was paper, not vinyl, which made it even easier.

Full wallpaper is much more of a hassle. If you need to take that down, a mixture of 1 part water to 1 part fabric softener works well, and one of these scoring tools can be helpful. But to take down the border, I just used a (re-purposed) spray bottle filled with 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water, a scraper, and an old hand towel. And a good step stool, of course. It was a fairly simple process. I sprayed a section, peeled off the top layer, as seen above, sprayed the layer underneath, and then scraped off the paper with the scraper. I used the towel to keep the vinegar mixture from running down the walls, and to rub off tiny bits of paper that remained.

I stripped the bed and threw the sheets in the wash while I worked. Then I just stood on the bed to work on the wall above it. I made a huge mess as I worked, but after I finished I gathered up the pieces and threw them away. Then James vacuumed the floor. We ended up with clean bedding, a freshly vacuumed bedroom, and no more borders. Not a bad Saturday's work.

Below is pictured our bedroom with no borders (or furniture). I took the border down back in May, but I guess I didn't take any after shots at that point. This was the only picture I could find before we painted the walls. I was amazed at how much of a difference that one small change made in the room, and it really made me excited to get rolling on the all the bigger projects we had planned.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Our Bedroom, in the Beginning

I said I would share our DIY adventures in our bedroom, and I thought I'd start by sharing what our bedroom looked like when we started. First of all, above you can see what it looked like just over three years ago when my husband did the walk-through before we bought it. The previous owners used the master bedroom as an office. That explains the bookshelf wallpaper border. There's really no explanation for the amount of stuff in there. It looked marginally better when we came to see it while house hunting, but I'm afraid at least one of the ladies we bought it from had issues with compulsive hoarding. I think you could say at this point the bedroom was dark and without form.

Below is a picture taken from the same angle in April of this year. This is taken from the door of the bedroom.  We had made a few changes, but besides new windows, they're pretty minor. The valance didn't stay with the house. We took down the existing mini-blinds and hung the curtains when we added these. At that point I took down the border on the wall with the windows. Other than that we had put up some pictures, and I purchased a bunch of fabric, some of which I used to make covers for the rocking chair. We also installed the light fixture on the fan. It's not beautiful, but it's functional. You can see we had also tested our new paint colors on the wall.

The house was built in 1989, and this was the original carpeting. When we bought the house we had bamboo floors installed in kitchen, great room, and hallway. James steam cleaned the carpeting in the bedrooms before we moved in, and we planned to put in new floors in the bedrooms the next year. But James's job situation was in flux that year, so we waited. Then the next summer we decided it would be better to take advantage of the tax rebates and install new windows. So now here we are three years later, and we are so excited to be getting rid of the grungy 20+ year old carpeting in the bedrooms. It may look unobjectionable in that picture, but trust me, it was in bad shape.  We had decided to wait to paint this room until we put in the new flooring, not realizing it would be such a long wait. Our bedroom has looked pretty much like this most of the time we've lived here.

Here are a few more angles. In the picture below, the doorway is just outside the frame on the right.


Around the corner below you can see the edge of door to the closet. Behind the wall with the bookcases is the bathroom.  I'll share pictures of the closet and bathroom and the projects going on in those areas another day.

Our bedroom was reasonably tidy in these pictures, but these before pictures also keep it pretty real with the clutter on top of the bookcases and laundry baskets. We've got plans to address those things after we put everything back together. The bedroom is a good size, which is one of the reasons we chose this house. We thought it had a lot of potential. We've made a lot of progress toward realizing that potential now. Next time, I'll talk about the first project I completed, which was taking down the rest of the border. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 21: Work It

Today is the last day of the Challenge! Wow, I can't believe I made it through the whole thing and participated every day. It was a great experience to think of my clothes as an outlet for creativity, and to stretch myself by trying new things with my clothing. I think it helped me get a better feel for my own style, and I hope to carry some of what I learned with me. Also it was great to take on a project that required some blogging discipline and actually complete it. I'm pretty excited about that, and another thing I hope to do is carry that blogging energy forward to new topics (the bedroom DIY projects will get talked about, for sure). Also, it was really fun to see all the outfits of the other ladies, check out their interpretations of the prompts, and get some some feedback about my efforts. I will add a few new blogs to my reader. As positive as the experience has been, I'm kind of glad it's over. I'll be glad to have a little more free time to work on other things. Blogging every single day is a little too much for me.  We'll see what kind of pattern I'll fall into with it now.  

Day 21: Look 1

The final prompt was to put together a great outfit showcasing what we've learned. This dress has been hanging in my closet for a year, and I've never worn it before. After I got it, I washed it, as you do. But then it needed ironing, and it's linen. And the skirt is super full with a ton of those panels. So I knew it was going to take for-ev-er to iron. And it did. An hour. It took a whole hour. I listened to an entire disk of Neil Diamond's greatest hits while ironing this dress. But I'm glad I did it. Closet orphan, no more. I love the dress, and I think in the future I might have it dry-cleaned. :) But it definitely illustrated one of the main things I learned from this challenge. Looking put together and styled requires a lot of ironing! I think I ironed at least one thing for 21 out of 22 outfits. That is a crazy high percentage for me, since my most common method of choosing outfits is to go for whatever doesn't need ironed. This outfit also showcases my new-found love for belts, layering, and statement jewelry. Right now I can only make the one statement, but that is something I plan to work on. 

Day 21: Look 2
And I said 22 outfits because after church today we headed to the toe of the state to spend some time with my family over Labor Day weekend. My husband had to be here for the annual family fantasy football draft, and I tagged along to hang out with my grandmother, aunts and cousins. I changed into something a little more comfortable and appropriate for that part of our agenda. I'm sharing this outfit too, because another thing I learned was to take as much trouble with your casual, hanging out with family or Saturday running errands outfits as you do with your go to church or go to work looks. Although I admit, my outfit for tomorrow involved far less thought. I even forgot to pack shoes for it. Hopefully I'll do a little better at applying what I've learned in the future. It was a really fun ride. Thanks to Kayla for hosting this virtual shindig. Thanks to everyone who has put in a kind word and indulged me in this exercise, and thanks to my husband for taking my picture every day without complaint or mockery.

Church--Dress:Calvin Klein, TJ Maxx; Sweater: DKNY, thrifted; Shoes: Target, Necklace: made by me, beads from Michael's

Casual--Shirt: Clio, hand me down; Sweater: see above; Shorts:Target; Shoes: Liz Claiborne, thrifted; headband: belt from dress

Saturday, September 3, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 20: Sunday Shoes.

Day 20: Sunday Shoes

I really don't have much delineation between church shoes and everyday shoes. If anything, I tend to wear more comfortable shoes for church, since it involves a lot of standing, whereas at work I spend most of my day sitting at my desk with my shoes kicked off. I do admit, I tend to go for the most casual footwear on Saturdays. Today we were supposed to pull out the fancy kicks. But it was the first Saturday of the month. You may think this has nothing to do with fancy shoes, but that's where you'd be wrong. On the first Saturday of the month the Indianapolis area Goodwill stores have their storewide 50% off sale. I go to the two closest Goodwill stores, which takes several hours if I am looking for clothes. Consequently, I just wasn't going to go for any fancy heels today. I decided to take the Sunday Shoes thing literally, and I wore the comfy wedges I wore the first Sunday of the challenge. And I decided to give the neutral with a pop of color thing another go, since I wasn't thrilled with my outfit for that prompt. I'm pretty pleased with this one. And it wasn't even bad for trying on clothes. I just left the scarf pinned and slipped it off over my head.

Goodwill hunting

Here is my haul for the day. I got all this for less than $20. I bought a pair of wide leg khakis, my first pair of skinny jeans, a patterned coral tunic, stretchy striped Tee, cabled coral sweater, pale pink cashmere, a belt, and some navy wedges. I spent longer than usual today, since I don't generally bother to look at the patterned shirts. I had never looked at the belts before, either. They are only 50 cents on half price day! The challenge has definitely given me a new eye.

Friday, September 2, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 19: Wear Something On Your Head

Day 19: Wear something on your head

Wearing a scarf headband seemed like an easy way to meet today's prompt: wear some kind of head accessory. I don't think I've ever worn a scarf like this before, and when I tried it out, I thought it seemed very 1950s. I went with that idea, and rolled up my jeans, which was a smart move since it was 95 here today. Classic Keds or saddle shoes would have suited the theme, but I don't have any, so ballet flats seemed like the way to go. Here I am in my fave green shoes again, since they are my only ballet flats. I've got to say, wearing three different shades of green kind of hurt my brain. I felt ready to whip off my scarf to start a drag race, but I can't quite decide if the greens worked or not. I'm glad the challenge is taking me out of my comfort zone, though.

Scarf: gift from my Mom from India; Shirt: hand me down; Shoes and jeans: thrifted

Thursday, September 1, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 18: Statement Jewelry

Day 18, Statement Jewelry

I was really excited about my outfit for today's challenge. I previously didn't own anything you could really call statement jewelry, unless that statement was a very subtle one. But last week I wore this T-shirt on jazz up your jeans day, and I just didn't think it was jazzy enough. I really wanted it to have some more pops of red, so when I saw that today was statement jewelry day, I knew I wanted a chunky red necklace. I didn't have a lot of time to be combing stores looking for something, so I just went to Michael's. They have a big bead selection, and they were having a sale. I bought three packs of these beads and some clear elastic cord. The packs of beads were about 5.60 each, and the cord was 2.50, so the necklace came out to about $20. Frankly, that was pretty painful to my cheapskate self, since I've been buying all my clothes at thrift stores. Luckily, I was returning some stuff I didn't need for a different project, so even with the 1.92 for 2 yards of ribbon for my belt, I only had to fork over about six bucks.

I have to say, I actually do think it was money well spent. I love the necklace, and I got tons of compliments on my outfit at work today. Since we'll be promoting Geek the Library through the spring, I'll be wearing this shirt a lot. I like having the red necklace to wear with this shirt, since I tend to look like death warmed over when I wear black next to my face. I think this necklace will also look great with turquoise. Plus it will be fun to wear at Christmas time. So, no regrets. I still have plenty of elastic cord, so I will probably make some more jewelry, too. Thanks to the 21 Day Challenge I will be checking thrift stores for jewelry and belts in the future.

I'd like to note that I wore my remix piece for the fourth time today. See the other looks here, here, and here. All four outfits were combinations I'd never worn before, and I thought they were pretty different looks. The neutral one was kind of blah, (too much neutral, not enough pop) but I really liked the others. I'd say overall the remix project was a success. I might try some starch when ironing this skirt in the future since it tends to get really wrinkly by the end of the day. The remix was a very fun and useful challenge.

Finally, I'd like to wish everyone a happy new year! It's a time of endings and new beginnings, and we are very nearly to the end of the 21 Day Challenge. I have had a great time, learned a lot, and enjoyed meeting some new people.

T-shirt: www.geekthelibrary.org ; Skirt: Target; Shoes: Keds; Belt:grosgrain ribbon, Michaels; Necklace: I made it, beads from Michaels