Friday, January 29, 2010

Glidden vs. Benjamin Moore

In the early days of this blog, I talked about paint a lot. I hated painting the first few times I changed the wall color in my bedroom. I didn't mind the prep work at all. In fact, I found taping off trim sort of calming. I didn't mind priming, either. But the painting was so hard!

Everything changed when I switched to Benjamin Moore's Aura paint. I had my doubts that a $60 gallon of paint could be dramatically different from the stuff I had used before. Well, I started to really enjoy painting because of that Aura paint. Aura has a thicker texture than traditional paint, it's low in VOC and therefore doesn't smell very much, and touch ups blend in seamlessly (even a year later).

When Glidden came out with their answer to Aura, I wanted to give it a shot. Well, the blogsphere came through with this Glidden test pack. The cover letter that came with the pack said it contained a quart of Glidden's new paint and a quart of Benjamin Moore's Aura paint. Hm. No Aura. Just a Glidden t-shirt. Luckily, I have plenty of Aura on hand.

Getting the plastic ring off the can of Glidden took a good three minutes. Is this a new thing?

The tester kit included these sheets that were supposed to show how well paint covers without priming. I personally think that paint that claims to have primer in it is silly. There's no way the primer "knows" to adhere to the wall first. I always prime before painting, even with Aura.

On the left of the page is Glidden applied with a roller. On the right of the page is the paint applied with a brush.

Next up, it was time to give the Aura a try. Though it claims to be a one coat paint, I've never found that to be the case. However, on the test sheets, it covered quite well. I actually used less paint on this sample because I didn't want to pour a bunch out into a tray.

I thought that the paint that came in Glidden's kit might not be covering well because it was white. It also seemed a little watery. I had a quart of creamy yellow paint from one of their paint giveaways, so I gave that a try, too.

Here are all three test sheets side by side.

I'm sticking with my Aura paint for now. The color is great, the texture is nice, and the coverage is obviously pretty good. I think the difference is in the texture. That pudding-like texture of Aura's makes a small amount go a long way.
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Thursday, January 28, 2010


Jane from The Borrowed Abode made a comment the other day asking to see the rest of the living room. I guess you all have noticed that I've shared pictures of each end of the room (drapes over French doors on one end, Olivia on the other), but I haven't posted about much else.

Well, there's a reason. Up until last week, I had a big, clunky Sony Wega TV sitting on top of the console I bought last summer. I kept telling myself that I would upgrade, but I kept putting it off.

Last weekend, I went into Crutchfield (the electronics company is based in Charlottesville and we have brick and mortar stores here) and found a Samsung HDTV in the outlet section of the store for an amazing price. The Crutchfield outlet is just a section of the store where they put catalog returns. Most of the models in the section are current, but have open boxes, so I guess they can't be sold as new.

I "slept on it" for two days. I measured. I debated. I finally realized that I needed a slightly smaller screen than the one that was in the outlet. What looks great in the 3000 square foot store definitely doesn't translate to a condo!

So I wound up with a 37", which seems like the right size for the space.

I can't believe I waited so long to upgrade.

You might remember that I have a post about letting the TV be exposed a while back. I don't think people need to hide their TVs anymore. I used to tuck mine away in an armoire, but that was when sleek, flat screens weren't around.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Help me pick my Queen of Cashmere pillow colors!

Erin from Let the Tide Pull Your Dreams Ashore hosted a blog giveaway for a pillow from a company that is soon to be a design blog favorite: Queen of Cashmere. Caron Slimak, the creative woman behind Q of C (who also blogs) quickly sent off fabric swatches so I could pick my colors. The problem: all of the options are fantastic! What to do?

Should I go for a classic combination or do something funky? Here are some examples of the pillows from the Saks website.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A giveaway from C & A Camp

As promised in the post about my visit to C & A Camp here in Charlottesville, I have a giveaway! I actually have three giveaways, so come back next Tuesday to see who wins this one and to enter the next one.

The first giveaway is for those of you who are a little intrigued by the whole antler thing, but don't really want to go over the top. This is a handmade antler bottle opener. It'll look pretty cute on a tray or bar cart. It's definitely cuter than the one I've had in my drawer for the last few years.

Here's the deal:

The Prize: Exactly what you see above, stylish wrap and all!

To Enter:
Post a comment telling me what tasty beverage you'll be using this thing on.

Extra chances to win:
Followers of this blog will get a 2nd entry! Those who tweet or post about this blog will get another entry. Just return and link to your post/tweet.

Do it by:
Monday, February 1st at 10 PM Eastern

Small print: If you don't have a blogger account, you can enter by picking the "Name/URL" option under the comment box. Enter your name and leave the URL line blank. Be sure to leave your email address!

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Olivia, Take 2

Better than last time?

John Matthew Moore's new gallery space in McLean is probably ready by now. I know I need to get up there to take some pictures, but I'm afraid to fall in love again. Last I heard, he was painting cows and was possibly going to add roosters to his range of subjects.
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Friday, January 22, 2010

A project gets passed down

You may know the blog In the Tweeds, written by NOVA girl Leila. Leila and her husband are are leaving the Old Dominion soon. They're heading back to Vicksburg, MS where there's a cute house waiting for their creative touch. Is it sad that my first thought upon reading her announcement was about all the fun, new projects she'll have in her new house?

Anyway, Leila was in the middle of a project that she now has to abandon. Someone needs to take it on. If you live somewhere near Central Virginia, that someone could be you.

Here's the deal.

Leila searched antique stores for a wood mantle that she could restore. She found it at Lucketts in Leesburg.

She took great care to strip the old (probably lead filled) paint off.

Then she stripped it again because the first product she used didn't the the job.

After many hours, she had most of the old paint off and shared pictures of the beautiful wood that had been covered up long ago.

The mantle can't go to Vicksburg, so Leila's mother took it to a thrift shop here in Charlottesville. Some lucky person is going to have an easy time finishing the job that Leila started.

Want it? The mantle is at Saint Peter's Attic in Ivy. Saint Peter's Attic is a new consignment shop that's located in Halifax House. It's right by And George and House of Jacobus. Turn off Ivy Road at House of Jacobus and head left up to the house.

If you get it, please email me. I would love to share a picture or two of the mantle in its new home with Leila. Oh, and keep in mind this thing is huge. Leila told me that she is 5'9" and it comes up to her chin.

Sorry for posting this, Leila, but it shows how big the mantle is!

The official address of Saint Peter's Attic:
3449 Ivy Road, Route 250
Charlottesville, VA 22903

They're open Tuesday - Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shop Tour: C & A Camp

After my stop into Pillow Mint this weekend, I went into C & A Camp (no website just yet, the link goes to a Google map), a newish store in Charlottesville's "warehouse district" (more of a row) which houses a bunch of great home & antique stores.

Owner Carlin Camp is a ball of energy, quick to greet and befriend anyone who walks into the store. C & A Camp is full to the brim with all sort of items, from modern furniture for dogs to natural beeswax candles to antler chandeliers and tables to funky hair accessories. Think Garden & Gun meets Elle Decor with a little Domino thrown in. There is just so, so much to look at that there's no way to stop in for just a minute. You'll be there for a while.

You might as well make an afternoon out of a trip to this little area so you can hit up Pillow Mint, Quince, C & A Camp, and the antique stores that are tucked in between them.

Everything in the store has been hand picked (and in some cases carried home from buying trips abroad) by Carlin. She believes in Fair Trade and also donates 10% of her profits to a charitable foundation.

Carlin was kind enough to offer up a few items for a blog giveaway. Starting next Tuesday, I'm going to have three weeks of giveaways featuring items from C & A Camp. So, come on back to put your name in the hat next Tuesday...and the Tuesday after that and the Tuesday after that!

Whose lucky pooch is going to get that bed?

Jimmy, the store mascot, is not for sale :)

If you stop by, be sure to check out the "Open" sign made by Carlin's daughter, Taylor. It's pretty cute.

Here's a slide show of all the pictures I took at the store. Some are a little fuzzy, but I think you can handle it.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adding a hint of green

When I moved here, I thought the thermostat was in a funky location. It was placed pretty low and in the middle of the wall where I put my desk. It was so low that the heat from my monitor (or monitors if I'm working from home) would keep my thermostat off in the winter (thinking the room was warm enough) or running too much in the summer. What's more, the thermostat itself seemed like a relic, even though the place was built in 2004 or 2005. I was well aware that a programmable thermostat would be a "green" upgrade.

I wondered how much it could cost to move and upgrade the thermostat a few weeks ago. There's a dual stage heat pump involved in the HVAC in the building, so I wasn't confident about changing the thermostat myself and I most certainly wasn't confident about moving it over.

After soliciting referrals on the complex message board and then doing some research online, I called in Robertson Electric to do the job. After I chatted with the woman who answered the phone, she decided I needed a specific person for the job because "some of these guys are better than others about moving these things." Thanks to her, I got Timmy. Timmy's definitely been around a while and he was able to move the thermostat after making a hole in the wall that was smaller than a dime. It was impressive. I imagined chunks of drywall falling to the ground and there was barely any dust when he was done.

You can't see him, but Timmy is behind the wall, in my laundry room (which also houses the other side of that furnace). He was talking to me through the vents as he measured, telling me what he was up to.

I shouldn't have been surprised that this job revealed two boo-boos committed by the builders of the complex. First, they put the thermostats too low on the wall. Timmy said 60" is standard and mine was at least a foot too low. Second, they must have scheduled the electricians to come in before the walls were completed because the mud was put down around the thermostat. Check this out:

I now have an awesome Honeywall TH6220D1028 keeping my HCAV in check. I love having a programmable thermostat. No jumping out of bed after forgetting to turn the heat down or freezing my tail off as I run to turn the heat on the morning.

Oh, and the best part was the price: $300. It was a steal in light of the estimates I had been getting (over $400 for the thermostat, the installation, and the relocation).

Now if only there wasn't a massive, white furnace cover in the middle of my living room! Sadly, that's not going anywhere.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Blog overload

It's like an intervention from Blogger:

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If you're a regular reader, you are probably happy that the posts gushing over Olivia are over now.

Two weeks ago, I picked Olivia up from A & D Custom Framing in McLean and brought her home. Last week, I had the thermostat that hogs space in the middle of the wall that would be her home moved and upgraded (more on that later this week). She was finally hung last Friday.

On Saturday, I stopped into Pillow Mint in downtown Charlottesville (if you're a design blogger, you probably already know owner Anita Davis' blog) and found a great pillow to tie the other colors in the living room (black and yellow) in with the Olivia's blue background and the gray-blue walls of the living room. Bonus: the pillow was on sale for 40% (there's always a sale at Pillow Mint!).

I'm pretty happy with how things turned out! Any thoughts on the garden seat? Should I leave it white? Or, should I put a different table between the chairs (I have a bronze-ish, round campaign table) and move forward with painting the garden seat yellow to use in a different part of the room?
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Monday, January 18, 2010

A teaser post

My 200th post is a teaser. I've been chuckling at the thought of my neighbors looking into my patio doors and seeing a huge, beautiful sheep staring back at them.

More soon...

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Let's do something

Many people in the design community are finding their own way of contributing to the relief efforts that are in the works down in Haiti. Charlotte Moss has pledged $10,000 and is asking people via her blog to send donations to Unicef. CNN has a run down of major groups that are on the ground in Haiti that can put donations to immediate use.

By the way, Consumer Reports has a blog post about what happens with those donations you can submit by text message. A portion of your donation is used to pay a fee and the agency doesn't get the money for 90 days. It might be better to submit a donation via a charity's website instead.
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Friday, January 15, 2010

HGTV does Hoarders

Hoarders is my guilty pleasure. I find it captivating...but I've always been fascinated by human behavior. I like to see the therapists adapt to the different personalities on the show. Like most, I love seeing that "ah ha" moment (though once in a while, it doesn't happen).

I also like that I can't just sit and watch the show. I have to clean while it's on. I guess that's my own compulsion.

Anyway, I was a little surprised a while back when a rep from Scripps Networks (the company behind HGTV, Food Network, FLN, and others) asked an online focus group about Hoarders. That show is on A&E, which isn't a Scripps Network. Tonight, I found out why we were asked about that show. They're doing their own version.

Meet life coach Fran Harris:

She's the star of a new HGTV show called Home Rules. From the 30 second clip I was able to see, it looks like it's somewhere between Clean House and Hoarders.



It's about time Home & Garden Television got involved in the treatment of mental illnesses. There aren't enough channels getting involved in issues completely unrelated to their format.

And I could use another show to help me tackle the mess in the front hall closet.

Fran Harris, is a "life coach" and a video on YouTube says she has a Ph.D. However, the videos she has posted to the site make her look like a motivational speaker who sells get rich quick products.

The bio on her website doesn't offer any education credentials. Being an academic, I can tell you that most Ph.D.s are very happy to disclose that they have their doctorate. She was a basketball player at University of Texas, but I can't find any information about her undergraduate or graduate degrees.

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I told you I was bad at spray painting

This is just a flower pot. I'm afraid to paint my garden seat. I took it slowly and I still got drips!
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Comfortable Home

It's no secret that I love Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams. I've been meaning to get down to Quince to buy a copy of their new-ish book, The Comfortable Home.

Imagine my delight when I got a package from my awesome NYC aunt with the book inside! It's my busy season at work, so I haven't had much time for leisure reading and it's taking all my will power not to dig into those pages.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Martha and Me

I have to admit that I didn't like Martha very much for years. But in the last couple years, she's slowly grown on me. Then she gave her name to a cute line of kitchen products at Macy's and, well, I'm smitten. I've been good, though. When I saw all the beautiful turquoise gadgets, I limited myself to buying some towels. Oh, and a PFOA free skillet that was on sale (to tide me over until my birthday, when I hope to get some new All Clad pots). I tried a PFOA free skillet by Calphalon and it was terrible. So far, the Martha brand pan is great.

Today, I realized that the towels match a tray I bought a while back during a big sale at Target. Maybe I have my color scheme for the kitchen? It's been bland, boring white for about a year now. I think it's time to commit.

I'm pretty close to dropping a subscription card in the mail for Martha Stewart Living, too.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Pier 1 surprise

Look what I stumbled upon at Pier 1 this weekend:

Does that fabric look familiar? It's a lightweight version of the fabric I had wanted to use for my drapes.

I love that fabric. Don't get me wrong, I love the way my drapes turned out and I love the fact that I spent about $70 on my drapes, which wouldn't have even covered the yardage needed to use that fabric on drapes (and you all know I wasn't making those things myself, so I'd have to pay someone for that, too).

I still haven't settled on new flooring! Forgive me for the yucky concrete!
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Welcome home, Olivia

At last, Olivia is home.

I saw her last spring at the DC Design House and wrote about her at the beginning of September. Here is the original Olivia that I saw at the DC Design House, in a room designed by Marjory Segal:

Photo lifted from the Washington Space blog

I wrote about her again when I went to artist John Matthew Moore's gallery to inquire about having a print made. Then came the trip to A & D Custom Framing in McLean to pick out a frame and fabric to go behind her.

A close up of the frame and fabric. The print is mounted so it floats.

All that's left to do is move (and upgrade) my thermostat so Olivia can own the wall.

I was going to wait until she was hanging to share pictures, but I couldn't help myself. I am so, so excited to finally have Olivia in my home!

I thought I'd share a funny sight from my trip up to Northern Virginia. Central Virginia has a good number of alpaca farms, but I had never seen an alpaca transport and couldn't help but pull out the camera while I was at a traffic light behind one. Rest assured, I was stopped. The light had just turned green as I snapped the photo.
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Friday, January 8, 2010

I'm really bad at spray painting

I could use some tips. I bought a cheapie garden seat in white and I want to make it yellow, to match the trim on my drapes. It's ceramic. I think I'm supposed to use spray paint, right?

Unfortunately, every spray painting project I do turns out terribly. Sometimes, I have too heavy a hand and it drips. Sometimes, I go light and I never get the coverage I want. I know it's cold outside, so I've been keeping everything indoors, then moving outside quickly to put on a light coat of paint, then move everything back inside after the fumes go away and the paint dries a little bit.

Help me, paint gurus! Do you use spray paint? How many coats do you recommend? Do you use a different sort of paint with ceramic?
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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Capri slipcovers

For some reason, Ikea's Jennylund chair slipcovers are made so they don't reach the floor. It bothered me more I bought my pair (sort of an emergency purchase when I realized my sofa was going to take a little while to arrive). I like the petite scale of the chairs, so I'm keeping them, but I want to do something to make them a little more interesting.

Yeah, they're due to be washed

Stumbling upon the aisle in the fabric store where the Stitch Witchery is (one of my aunts couldn't believe I never heard of this stuff before my drapes project...where have I been?), I got to thinking about my options. I still have a massive roll of that wide, yellow grosgrain ribbon that I used on my drapes. Maybe I could use Velcro to add a grosgrain trim to the bottom of the slipcovers! I'd use Velcro so the ribbon could be removed for washing. Do you think it'll work?

Check out those mad photoshop skills! I need to attend to the pillow situation shortly.
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One of these things is not like the other

Should dye lot variations on Restoration Hardware's signature color be this dramatic?

The towel on the middle hook above was purchased a few months before the towels on the two outside hooks. I noticed the color difference right away, but didn't think anyone else would. When my boyfriend notice the colors, I began to think the difference is pretty significant.

Oh, the silly things one worries about! This really doesn't matter...does it?
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Obvservations from the U.K.

Zoe B. wrote an interesting comment on my post from yesterday about house hunting. I thought I'd post it here to see what people think.

After reading many American interior blogs I've been struck by two things

1) SO many people rent properties. Is this because home ownership is prohibitively expensive or is there a culture of renting?. In the UK people seem to buy as soon as possible even at the moment when the financial situation isn't great and house prices are high.

2) Your houses are HUGE even the cheap ones ( not taking into account central homes in large cities)

She's totally right. When I lived in Boston, I envisioned being a renter as long as I was single (I'm an academic, after all). If I had been interested in moving outside the city, I probably could have saved more money and possibly bought, but I'm a city girl and city digs are expensive in some major cities.

In the suburbs, homes are generally very large compared to those in Europe. I don't know why some of us like to take up so much space. I laugh when I see a newlywed couple on House Hunters saying they need a four bedroom house with a finished basement and a three car garage.

Now, this blog is about living small, so I'd like to think that I'm not taking up too much space and I'm not consuming too much with my 785 square foot condo. But as I've written before, my NYC aunt pointed out that my place is spacious the last time I complained a little bit about space. It's all relative.

What do you all think? Why are we more apt to rent? Is it a cost thing or is it just part of the culture that we rent? What do you think about home sizes? Perhaps there's a reason the term McMansion was coined in this country?

I bought my rental unit here in a condo conversion
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Monday, January 4, 2010

Tell me about your home buying experience

Lookiloos via Hooked on Houses

This year marks my fifth living in my condo, my fourth as the owner (it was converted from apartments to condos after I lived here for a year). I never thought this would be my forever home and I've already developed a plan to look for a traditional house once I reach five years of ownership here. I don't know why I picked that just seemed right.

Never one to put off day dreaming today about something that won't be reality until tomorrow, I've already started to casually glance at real estate listings. I used to have some house characteristics in mind, but this browsing has me thinking about very specific locations, down to the actual street.

I'm wondering how other people's home searches went. How long did it take? Did you have specific architecture in mind? Did you limit your search to specific neighborhoods?
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cleaning advice needed

My boyfriend finally let me get my hands on a table I spotted long ago at his house. It was stuck in a dark corner, forgotten, with evidence of neglect and a wilder time all over it. He had no idea what had spilled on it. I had my thoughts, but stayed quiet as I started to scrub.

Here's how the table arrived at my place. Ick! It looks like it could be on the Hoarders show.

Don't ask. It's gross.

After a quick once over with window cleaner and a Mr. Clean Eraser, it was looking pretty good.

Upon closer inspection, there's a spill on it that didn't come up with my quick cleaning. I started throwing my entire cleaning arsenal at it. A soak in glass cleaner did nothing. Goo Gone did nothing. Scrubbing with the rough side of a sponge pad did nothing. I'm up to my whit's end. It's a cool table, but if I can't clean it, it's pretty much ruined.

Picture taken with flash to show the spill

By the way, I've been pretty disappointed by Method window cleaner. I bought a bottle a few months ago and can't stand the streaks and wimpy cleaning power of the stuff. Does anyone have a better suggestion for a window cleaning that might be a tad eco-friendly? To be honest, I'm about to switch back to Windex. I have to use a ton of Method to do jobs that a spray or two of Windex used to do. What good is an eco-friendly brand if you have to consume three times as much product to use it?

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