Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rethinking the "gallery"

For years, I've looked at pictures of gallery or display walls longingly. Something grand just isn't going to fit in my little condo, so inspirational ideas like these:

Photo from InStyle Magazine

Photo from Pottery Barn

have to be shrunk down to fit a space like this:

Yep, that's the "gallery" in my place. You might remember that I painted a bunch of frames during the summer for this wall. I thought they were looking a little random and decided to upgrade to some more traditional frames (found at Michael's, Target, and Ikea).

Before I start hammering, I'm leaving the little paper inserts that came inside four of the frames up on the wall. I've changed their arrangement a few times, but haven't settled on anything yet. Any thoughts?

#1 (top heavy?)

#2 (too orderly?)

#3 (better, but bottom heavy?)

#4 (blah?)

Maybe I need to get inserts out of the smaller frames, too. This isn't as easy as I thought it would be.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Craigslist finds for the Richmond crowd

By request, I've perused the Richmond Craigslist site to find some items that might find new life in your home if given a nice coat of paint.

First up, this FREE table and chairs. They are sitting on somebody''s porch in The Fan. Go get them!

They look pretty average, but if you have a garage and some time, you could turn them into something pretty nice.

Photo courtesy of County Living

Next up is this sad, old hutch for $40. It's in Bonair.

The doors have me really excited. You'll need some sort of console on which to rest the whole thing, but you could pull an Eddie Ross and make it look far more impressive than $40. You could also paint the interior some fun color or line it with decorative paper.

Photo courtesy of Eddie Ross' blog

Photo courtesy of Country Living

Photo courtesy of Chateau de Lu blog

Here are a few more pieces that I would slap some paint on immediately.

Octagon side tables, $25 (might look cool with a glossy, white finish)
Pretty side table, $35 (another candidate for a white paint job)
Drop-leaf side table, $45 (I think gray or black would look good on this one)
Simple, oval cocktail table, $20 OBO (I think I'd go with white or gray here, but who cares, it's $20!)
If you have a daughter who loves her baby dolls, a $35 baby cradle (would look so cute in a creamy white)

Wasn't that fun?

If you have rehabilitated a Craigslist find and want to share it, feel free to email me with pictures and details!

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Converting rod pocket drapes to pinch pleated drapes

The fact that my ridiculously expensive silk drapes from Horchow are rod pockets has always bothered me a little bit (they did not include hooks, as the description still says they do). For some reason, I didn't even know formal drapes came that way and I assumed that they'd come with hooks sewn into them so I could hang them on rings. Well, they didn't. So, they've looked like this for the last two years:

I started googling and found that rod pocket drapes can be converted into pinch pleated drapes by novices (me) by sewing a special tape to the back. Slide drapery pins into pockets that are sewn along the tape and you have pinch pleats!

Off I went to JoAnn's fabrics (my second time in there) to gather the appropriate materials. There was only one type of drapery tape and one style of pins. My track record with craft projects isn't good and I bought everything fully expecting to find that nothing would work.

I laid out the tape and realized that I had ordered the perfect amount. Quelle surprise!

It took the entire afternoon to sew the tape to one of my drapery panels. As I massaged my fingers for the tenth time, Marc reminded me that some people do this sort of work with even more detail all day long. Incredible. I was ready to toss everything in a pile a few times, but I finally finished.

The pack of drapery pins I bought contained 10 pinch pleat pins and four end pins. As I slid them into the pockets, I started to get excited. I might have done this whole thing correctly!

I couldn't believe it. It worked! Two days later, my pinkie and fore fingers are still sore (though only one was really involved in pushing the needle around). I also haven't managed to iron the single drapery panel I finished, but I'm so proud that I'm posting a picture anyway.

Be kind...they aren't ironed yet
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Monday, September 28, 2009

Inexpensive cabinet lighting

I went into Ikea on a whim this weekend while I was driving home from Baltimore. I only planned on grabbing a few picture frames, but you know how that goes. I walked out with picture frames, a cutting board, and some cabinet lighting.

I am not the most confidant electrician, so I was happy to see that Ikea's lights didn't need to be hard wired. They could be plugged into a regular electrical outlet. I wanted to use them above my long wall of cabinets, thinking it would keep me from thinking that the space was for storage (amazing how stuff creeps up there, even when you say you won't put anything on top of your cabinets). There was an outlet in the cabinet over the stove and microwave that would work perfectly.

I didn't have a fancy drill attachment, nor did I have any desire to get out of my pajamas to get one (all my best work is done in my pajamas). So, I used my largest drill bit to bore out a little square to put the plug through the top of the cabinet.

I'm pretty pleased with the results...and these cabinet lights let me leave the super bright overhead kitchen lights off (I'm pretty sure the bulbs in the overhead lights don't dim). They shine a little much, so I might look into some sort of diffuser.

Total cost: $19.99
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An additional peek into the Hotel Monaco in Baltimore

I already shared photos from the lobby and rooms of Baltimore's Hotel Monaco, but I just found a few pictures of the bar and restaurant on my iPhone. I figured I'd share the grainy shots because the place was so aesthetically pleasing. Check out the wool flannel upholstery!

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

We want paint! We want paint!

These Craigslist items are just begging for a coat of white or soft gray paint. Actually, the hutch would look nice in black, too.

$15 table with a pretty substantial base:

A little more delicate table for $20:

Ethan Allen hutch for $75:

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Black and white striped drapery fabric!

After I failed to join the crowd of bloggers who have successfully painted horizontal striped drapery panels, I vowed to throw money at the project and track down fabric that would work for what I wanted.

It took quite a bit of googling, but I tracked down fabric with eight inch, black and white, stripes. Now, I need to track down someone to make the drapes for me because I have never touched a sewing machine and don't know the first thing about making drapery panels.

Charlottesville folks, do you know a seamstress who makes window treatments for reasonable rates?

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

A peek into the Hotel Monaco in Baltimore

I've been in Baltimore for the last few days and got to stay at another Kimpton Hotel, the brand new Hotel Monaco. The building was built in the early 1900s to be the headquarters for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and Kimpton left much of the lobby intact. There are grand, marble staircases that were a little scary to navigate in heels, especially if you can't take your eyes off the ornate ceilings.

Let's get on with don't want me to describe everything, you want to see the pictures!

Our goldfish resting on a huge, leather trunk

Cool bolster pillows and Frette linens

The walls in the bathroom were LEATHER!

Oops. Our goldfish died. They said the fish sometimes get shocked in the move from their tank to the bowls in the rooms. RIP Frank.

The elevator bay on our floor

The ceiling in the two story lobby

Grand staircases in the lobby

Pretty amazing arrangements in the lobby


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Friday, September 25, 2009

Small & Chic paint storage

As a condo dweller, I'm without a garage, basement, or much storage space. I most certainly don't have room to keep paint cans around the house. I read somewhere about paint savers made by Tupperware or Rubbermaid, but the last thing I wanted was to spend $15 on a plastic storage container. One day, after pulling a Classico sauce jar out of the dishwater, I realized that I should be holding onto them instead of adding them to the recycling. I started saving the clean jars and have been slowly transferring my leftover paint to them.

With the paint in jars in the pantry, they're more accessible than paint cans stashed in the back of a closet. I don't think twice about popping open a jar when a wall needs a little touch up. Some plastic wrap between the lid and the jar prevents dried paint from collecting in the grooves.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009


Anyone who is as new as I am to the design blog world can't help but be intimidated by the other bloggers out there. Everyone seems more established and despite comments from some pretty inspirational bloggers, I've felt a little foolish for trying to do this at times.

Today, I felt a tad more legitimate because Leila of In The Tweeds gave me my very first blog award! It's called the Honest Scrap Award. Leila isn't just blogging about design, she's going out and doing what many of us dream of - she's actually going back to school to get a second degree in interior design! What an inspiration!

Here are the rules I must follow, upon receiving this award:
  1. Say thanks and give a link to the presenter of the award.
  2. Share “10 Honest Things” about myself.
  3. Present this award to 7 others whose blogs I find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged me.
  4. Tell those 7 people they’ve been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines in receiving.
10 Honest Things about Me
1. I've been blogging since 2005, but about a totally different topic that has nothing to do with design.

2. I originally moved into my condo as a renter. The detail that solidified my move to the complex: the most popular music venue in town was across the street. People choose their homes for random reasons, I guess!

3. I used to be fluent in French and Spanish. I'm certain that I've lost much of the Spanish and I'm okay with that. I'll be devastated if I go to Quebec or France and can't "click" into French.

4. For the first 25 years of my life, I had no desire to live south of New York City.

5. I got my first pair of jeans in 5th grade. They had flowers painted on them.

6. I'm an extrovert and feed off the energy of large groups, but get extremely nervous in small groups. I'm going to a conference tomorrow and I'm so excited for the buzz that comes from being in the middle of a big crowd.

7. Every night, as soon as my head hits the pillow, I feel extremely hungry.

8. I am so nervous about being a good dog owner that I'm constantly looking up research and articles about behavior, training, and diet. As a result, the pet aisle at the grocery store frustrates me (because 90% of the products are junk and most people don't seen to read the labels!).

9. I don't constantly think about environmental issues, but every once in a while, I think about how much our population is growing and how finite our resources are and I get really scared.

10. I don't think my Dyson is any better than the Eureka vacuum it replaced.
Blogs that have inspired me (and I don't expect them to follow up because they are busy people and probably already got this thing):
Adventures in Renovating a Brooklyn Limestone - one of the first design blogs I started reading
Freckles Chick - another established blogger who is always positive and encouraging
Brick City Love - new bloggers, from my native New Jersey, not afraid to show the warts and all
Making this Home - American in Germany, also living small
Pillow Mint - local bedding luxury and a great sense of humor. Buy local, kids!
The Borrowed Abode - another small home dweller with funky taste and ideas
Thrifty Little Blog - one of my new favorites. First time home owner, lots of projects on the docket!

I imagine some of those are blogs you know, but I hope a few are new to you!

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Killer shower curtain revisited

Amazingly, the most popular post on this blog thus far has been the one in which I asked if my shower curtain was killing me. That post has gotten so many hits that I have actually worried about people. Is someone actually googling a phrase close enough that my blog is returned as a top hit?

I thought I'd revisit this topic to provide an update. I got rid of my plastic shower curtain liner a little over a month ago and replaced it with a fabric liner that was about $15 at Target. I was pleased by the absence of the plastic smell in the bathroom and the extra fabric damped the noise in the bathroom, too.

I have washed the curtain a couple times and it has turned out well. Though the care label said to wash in cold water without bleach, I used warm water and bleach. No problems there.

In the end, I think I'm saving money. I won't be buying a plastic curtain ever again.

I took this photo while perched on the inside edge of the tub, trying to keep my balance. Are you impressed?

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hello Autumn!

Fall is my favorite season. I love it when the crispy, cool air and all the activities come with it. While I wait for the Pink Ladies to come into season up on Carter's Mountain, I'm busying myself outside with changing the containers on my patio over to cold weather plants.

My forever hydrangea is doing okay and even sprouted a few blooms recently. I made the mistake of buying a regular hydrangea for my other large pot, so I won't see anything from that one until next spring.

I transplanted my impatiens to a small container (and they always seem to make it through the winter, so who knows how that will go) and I planted some cheerful mums in the their place.

Last week, kale cabbages showed up at the garden center and I snapped two up for my smaller planters. I can't wait to see how these do over the winter. I think they are supposed to be hardy enough to handle the season.

Anyone else doing some fall planting?
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$40 + paint + imagination = something good

Someone had their entertainment center destroyed in a move. That someone is trying to salvage the pieces and wants $40 for them. This is an amazing deal if you like the idea of an entertainment wall.

If you hang your TV on the wall or have it sitting on a simple console, you can book end it with these two pieces and have the look of a Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel type entertainment center.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Crafting crisis averted

When I was in my early 20s, during that period in time that comes after school when scores of people got married, I taught myself to make stationary. I made some pretty spectacular shower invitations with my stamps and embossing equipment. I was very proud of my personalized note cards and wax sealed envelopes. I was finally crafty like my old roommate, who was always cooking up nifty projects for the residents she supervised as a Resident Assistant. I even taught myself to crochet during this period, but the thrill was lost when the TSA confiscated my pink crochet hook before a post-9/11 flight. I had no idea blunt pieces of aluminum could incapacitate a flight crew and I had no intention of carrying such a dangerous weapon in the future.

The design blogging crowd is pretty crafty and they inspire me to try some things now and then. High Heeled Foot in the Door managed to recreate a set of striped drapes I've been lusting after since seeing them in Domino (rip) or Veranda a while back. She painted the stripes on simple, white drapes and provides step-by-step instructions for the project. I decided to give it a shot.

First, I bought a sample piece of fabric to test out the method. I taped off a stripe on my test fabric and went over it with Tulip's fabric spray paint.

Even lightly spraying the fabric led to paint bleeding through. A drop cloth was a must have. Plus, since I live in a community with standards about window treatments (ours have to show to the outside as white), it was clear that I'd be lining my final product.
As the stripe dried, it was looking good. Unfortunately, when I pulled the tape off, some of the paint had bleed through. I figured that Bullfrog tape would be necessary for the final project.

I painted another stripe and was happy with the outcome. On Sunday, I decided that I was ready for the real deal. I bought some simple, inexpensive grommet top drapery panels and started taping with the Bullfrog tape. I wanted wide stripes and taped off 8 inch segments.

The Bullfrog tape just wouldn't stay! No matter how hard I pressed, the tape did not adhere completely to the fabric. I looked at the panel. I remeasured. I used a straight edge to smooth the tape. I took a nap.

It just wasn't meant to be. I am not crafty. I can pick colors, paint, do electrical work, and basic plumbing, but I am not a crafter. I don't think I can force it any longer. If I want striped curtains, I'm going to have to have them made.

I managed to track down a fabric with 8 inch stripes after an hour of pouring over samples online. A swatch is on its way!
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