Friday, November 13, 2009

Home Improvement...or Self Help?

So, the paint's up! My brother came Thursday and got working straight away and was done around 11 on Thursday night. I'll have some touch up to do, but it's looking GREAT! It is amazing to me what something so simple as a coat of fresh paint and some color (albeit neutral soothing rather than saturated bright) can do. All of a sudden, things that seemed disparate in my rooms come together.

What I did realize is that I'm not well adjusted when it comes to having my home in disarray. Someone please dissuade me if I decide to remodel extensively while living in a place. I don't think I could handle it! I have some clean out and clean up to do and things are not where they should be. I think this is good. It's good to shake it up a bit and get the dust off. It's good to change your surroundings and see things in a new way.

Those antique frames I found long, long ago are still sitting where I placed them. So, either I do my little fix up in the next few weeks or they're back on the curb or on Craigslist.

The mirror from my dresser? I either have to sell it or hang it. I have determined the backing it's on won't work to attach to the dresser and I am going to pitch it. The mirror is in great shape though.

I have a ton of other things still hanging around awaiting their fate--my old laptop, my old digital camera, bags of clothes. Now is the time! (Pictures to follow)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

There Must Be 50 Ways to Choose Your Color

Well, my next home project is painting. Something I've planned to do for ages. After being here in my rental apartment for 4+ years, the paint's seen better days. It wasn't designed to last--my landlord paints after every tenant, and the average tenant's stay is probably 1.5 years or something. I asked him ages ago if he'd mind if I painted my own colors, and he said "whatever makes you happy" with a tentative "Uh, what colors are you thinking of?"

The answer was I didn't know. And, a year or more later, I still didn't and had gotten no further in my plans. Finally, after deciding to forego buying a condo immediately, in a trip to Home Depot to help a friend pick cabinets for HER new condo, I picked up a few color samples and promptly marked most of my walls with them, precluding me from NOT painting. It was a good strategy. Looking at those stripes, I got desperate last week.  I called my brother, who offered to help me, and he's coming this Friday, bless him, to paint for me.

But, what color? Unfortunately, the colors I originally tested would not work. I originally had these for the living room:

Ralph Lauren Lamp Room Grey


On the wall, it just appeared too dark and not right.

Behr Chocolate Froth


 On the contrary, this one was too light. Too similar to the beige that was already there.

For the bedroom, I thought Behr's Quietude was perfect. I was wrong. 


It just appeared too bright on the wall. And too cool when compared to the warm white of the trim, which is not being painted!

So, it was back to the drawing board. On Sunday, after church, I settled down with my computer for over an hour, looking at paint sites, primarily Behr and Glidden because I was going to Home Depot. My goal for the living room was to match the "vein" in my rug:


 (Like my feet?)

So, I kept glancing at the screen, glancing at the rug (keeping in mind they can vary). I settled on a list, which I took to the store and then looked at chips. This was infinitely easier than just showing up there and trying to guess. I then narrowed it down in the store to 2 samples for the living room and 1 for the bedroom. As it turned out, I kind of liked Chocolate Froth in the bedroom. But, I needed to compare. Who knew greys and taupes could be so different!?

For the living room:

Glidden Forest Khaki


Behr Sandstone Cliff


I also picked up cards with other potential contenders. But, when I put them on the wall, Sandstone Cliff was the standout. Forest Khaki was still too dark. Here's one of my test areas.


This is on my back wall.  I also had testing happening by my curtains and by the trim on my front door. Sandstone Cliff is the paint on the bottom left. (Forest Khaki to the direct right). The flash is making it a bit brighter.

For the bedroom, I settled on one sample, Glidden Polished Limestone.


It was wonderful, though I still am deciding between this and Chocolate Froth. One of the bedroom walls (also three test areas there):

I tried doing this without a flash because it was making it way bright, but it turned out fuzzy. The Polished Limestone sample is to the top right (you can tell it's eggshell v. flat on the others). Quietude is to the left. Chocolate Froth is the one by the light switch.

I surprised myself by not being as color adventurous as I thought I'd be. I gravitated way away from brights. In some ways, choosing a neutral is harder, I think. I guess I'd be more willing to go with something with more saturated color if I owned my place. I just can imagine the look on my landlord's face if he came in and saw red or black walls. Even if I offer to prime over it, I can just imagine. Besides, to really make that work, I'd feel like I needed to really coordinate my furniture and everything. As it is, I think the neutrals will look better and fit more with my decor choices.

Take aways for your next paint picking project:

1.) Use the computer. Though screen resolution can change colors, it helps reduce the sense of being overwhelmed. Or, go to the store (don't buy anything yet), and get a few (and I mean a few--I know how a few can change into 50), bring them home, and then use the web tools offered by the paint companies to find ones slightly darker/cooler/warmer to find the perfect one.

2.) Though Glidden offers those cute nail polish looking samples with an included brush, these cost the same as the little pot of sample which has much more paint. Might as well get that one and use your own brush. If you don't use it to cover a wall, you can always use the paint for another project or if you choose the paint, to store touch up paint (that was Mom's idea).

All in all, I'm excited! This is my first painting project (that my brother will execute! Thanks, bro!) since I lived at my parents. It's VERY exciting! You know you'll see before and afters!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Quick and Easy

Saturday, I had one of those days where, because I had nothing concrete planned, and so many options, I had difficulty committing to anything. This led me to actually complete a project I've been meaning to do for awhile--recovering the seat of a chair. After completing it, it's rather embarrassing how long it's taken me.  If you've never done this, it's really easy.  The subject in question was a chair I acquired at an estate sale in my hometown before leaving for the big city (or, the suburbs of Bethesda, MD) and my first apartment.  It's a cute Gustavian sort of chair that serves so little purpose in my bedroom other than holding discarded clothing. But, that is neither here nor there. At some point, I am planning to use it as a desk chair (which I did at one point when I had a desk). I had originally recovered it in a nice purple jacquard. However, I was tired of that. I decided to recover with leftover fabric from my shelf project.

Here is the chair seat and chair as I started to remove the existing fabric.



And here's the ORIGINAL fabric, which I left on for posterity.


As it turns out, the bed is a less than ideal workbench. So, I moved it to the living room and my bench. Tip of the day: if it has bench in the name, it will be a better workbench. I wrapped the seat with 2 thin layers of poly batting that I also had hanging around. This is for cushiness. You could also add a layer of foam to the top, but not too much or the fabric won't lay properly.


The process of applying the batting and fabric couldn't be less complicated. Wrap, make sure it's taut, and then staple the heck out of it. If you have stripes, just make sure they're aligned. I love my staple gun. It's a very gratifying activity. Here is the finished chair. 


Voila! I may paint the chair at some point, or not. I haven't yet because I don't like to paint furniture (and haven't had much success with it...), but you know you'll be the first to hear about it if I do.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

20 Questions, Part I

(I'm having a bitch of a time formatting this...apologies, but I can't be bothered to figure it out right now!)

Bloggity Friend Wende posted a question to readers: a request for 20 questions of any sort. See here for the original post. In the spirit of participation, I'm answering the meme in line with Wende, so I'll go wtih the first five she answered.

Would you rather eat Reese's Cups or Peppermint Patties?

Um, this is too easy. Now, I don't ever reject any candy (with the exception of the second Hershey's bar offered by my ESL student...actually NOT my ESL student anymore...awkward, hence, chocolate rejected). Anyway, Reeses. Peanut butter and chocolate trumps mint. Next. 

Would you rather never listen to music again or lose your TV?
Talk about Sophie's Choice, for Crissake.  I guess TV (I say as I watch "Snapped" on could I miss such quality?) I'd probably be better off.

If you could visit any one time period in history, when would it be?

Boy,tough. Probably the 1940s so  could wear the clothes and have my hair arranged and have a torrid affair with a soldier before he was going off to war. I could also meet my grandparents as young adults and my parents as babies, which is a bit of a novelty. I could also introduce birth control surrepitiously to help our current approaching Social Security burden. The rest of the time would suck though because, well, war sucks. Guys in uniform sure don't, though.

Would you rather die peacefully, but unexpectedly in your sleep at age 60 or die at 90 after suffering for years from disease?

90. Always pick quantity over quality.

Do you think that questions such as "what's your favourite colour/ice cream/album of all time" help you get to know another person?

Yes, because you have to start somewhere. It also depends how you answer, of course. If you say "blue" and that's that, well, maybe not, but if someone says "blue, because it reminds me of blue skies, which reminds me of my childhood days looking up at clouds," well, that gets you somewhere.

That said, I have a hard time with favorites. Someone once said if you have no favorites, you don't like anything, but I don't think that's true. I have several preferred colors. I like fuschias and purples and pinks as well as teal and sort of robin's egg blue. I also love orange. My favorite ice cream, hands down, is peanut butter and chocolate. I was recently disappointed that Annapolis Ice Cream's PB&C wasn't as good as I remembered. I was first introduced to the concept by Baskin Robbins, which still does a fine job. However, I will generally eat any ice cream (see question 1 above). I had a fantastic cantaloupe gelato at the gelati place on P Street this summer...yum. Album of all time. I have a hard time with favorite music or books, and honestly, rarely listen to music as composed in albums anymore, with the advent of Itunes,but with this one, I'll go for U2's the Joshua Tree.

There you have it. Join in if you wish!!!