Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year & My Two Favorite Christmas Gifts

First I'd like to wish all of you a very happy and healthy new year.  We having standing plans each New Year's Eve with our best friends.  They have two sons my kids ages (the four kids consider themselves siblings more than just friends and are always so excited to be together).  This year they got a new puppy so it's at their house.  We are very low key about New Years.  No big, fancy parties.  Just spending the evening with friends.

With all the craziness this week, I forgot to share with you my two favorite Christmas gifts.  FIRST:

Only my blog friends could appreciate this one...yes it's a air compressor nail gun and stapler.  Can you imagine all of the fun projects I can conquer with this baby.  First project I have in mind is a chair rail in our mud room...with maybe some picture moulding.  The possibilities are endless...I can't wait.

SECOND:  Now this one I found in my Christmas stocking.

I had to read it a few is a copy of the confirmation e-mail they sent my husband.   Tickets to the Nate Berkus Show!!!  I was literally jumping up and down.

Two amazing gifts from one amazing husband.

Have a Happy New Year!!!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Powder Room - Repost

What a difference a day makes.  We are feeling so much better today...not 100%...but well on our way.  Thanks so much for all of your get well wishes.  Here is a repost of our powder room updated.

After we completely gutted and re-did our kitchen, the powder room off of the kitchen seemed lacking in comparison and needed some updating.  However, after living through the kitchen remodel, I didn't want another gut job.  I wanted to see if I could update the bathroom for under $1,000.  The bathroom is small, so it's a little tough to get a full picture.  These are the before pictures:

The view from the kitchen
This particular wallpaper seemed to date the bathroom
I looked into replacing the countertop with granite.  However, it is an odd shape, so the granite would break my budget.  What I did do was add crown moulding, a classic damask wallpaper in grey/blue with silver tone damask which helped add to the sparkle I wanted, a new crystal chandelier, new faucet, new shower curtains, new mirrors, pictures and an update to the lighting fixture over the sink.  Here is the after:

Mirror from Pottery Barn, pictures from Home Goods, chandelier from internet lighting store for under $100
The beautiful wallpaper actually made the countertop look like it belonged.
The mirror is from a local lighting store.  New faucet from Lowes (very easy to install yourself - my husband installed it in less than 15 minutes)

The shower curtains and the rings for the shower curtains are from Home Goods.  I framed out both sides of the shower like a window and the ties are made from left over silk I had from the cornices in my master bathroom.

This is the lighting fixture over the sink.  It was a basic Home Depot lighting fixture we had put in years ago.  It used to have the lights facing down with different glass.  I went to Lowes and purchased two new lightbulb covers for less than $10 total.  Then I flipped the fixture so that the lights now shine up.  The two pieces of crystal are actually magnets and are meant to hang on anything metal.  I purchased them at another local lighting store.  They cost $12/each.  What a difference for very little.

I love my new powder room and I did come in under budget.  The largest expense was the crown moulding as I had a professional do it.  I'd love to hear what you think.  

You can check out my powder room at Centsational Girl

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Before and After Kitchen - Repost

Usually between Christmas and New Years we enjoy time as a family doing day trips and just relaxing.  Unfortunately the stomach virus has hit our house and two out of the four of us have been down for the count.  I woke up yesterday feeling horrible and it went downhill from there.  My son got it this morning.  My two nieces also apparently got it yesterday.  Somebody obviously brought more than desert to our Christmas Eve.  This is the first time I have been vertical in over 30 hours.

Here is a repost of our kitchen remodel project.  Hope you like it.

Here is our new kitchen.  It's everything we want.

But it's not where we began.  This is how we began:

Our original kitchen
We built this house almost twelve years ago.  At the time this was exactly what we wanted.  We were young and just so happy to be building a house.  Who knew from granite?   I remember that the big choice with the builder was between formica and corian. We did the standard tiles in the kitchen and standard cabinets and appliances.  It's amazing how much our tastes have changed.  I'm glad we didn't upgrade anything, since a few years ago we gutted the entire kitchen and started over.  We removed all of the tile and put in beautiful hardwood floors and stained them in a dark color.  This was a bigger job than we realized.  If you remove tile to add different tile it's not a big deal because you are only removing the tile.  When you remove tile to put in a hardwood floor, you have to remove the tile, the mud base and the wire beneath.  The day they removed the tile I came home and when I pulled up outside the house the dust and smoke leaving my house was so bad that I thought the house was on fire.

The kitchen is a very large space, but the way it was set up it seemed like two small spaces.  The kitchen had a peninsula which we thought we loved until we really started working in the kitchen and realized it locked the person cooking into one area and separated them from everyone else.

Peninsula which divided the kitchen
 The kitchen also had a desk area.  Sounded like a great idea at the time.  However, the reality was that it was a pile collector.  No one actually sat there and worked.  When we would have parties we would set up the desk area as the bar area with all of the sodas and drinks and ice set up.

Desk area before
This is the after of the same space.  We had the cabinetry wrap the corner and made an actual bar area.  There is a beverage refrigerator and well as two locked cabinets with drinks for any of our over 21 year old friends.  The glass cabinets house my wine glasses.

Another view of the old kitchen
Here is the after.  I still loved the table and didn't really want to get rid of it.  Instead I painted the table base and all of the chairs a bronze color (originally it was grey which didn't go with the new kitchen).  I then reupholstered all of the chairs in a fabric that coordinated with the new color scheme.  The tablecloth is actually no longer on the table - instead I have four place mats that match the window treatment.

Chandelier is by ABC Crystal.  It was perfect for over the huge island.

View of the valance and window treatment over the sink.

It was a huge project.  The project did not go all...there was a very bad middle section, but in the end it turned out just the way we wanted.  Let me know what you think of the kitchen.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My New Button and Reprint of Trash to Treasure

Well it's taken me forever, but I was finally able to figure out how to create and add a button to my sidebar.  I have a Mac computer and Photoshop doesn't really work with the Mac (or so I've been told).  Plus, I was trying to not spend any money on creating a button.  I signed up for a free Picnik account and started there.  Here are the two I have created.  Everyone in my home likes the first one best.  I kept both for now on my side bar.  Feel free to grab either.

Still trying to figure out how to change my background to a custom background.  If you know how...please do share your know how.  Thanks.

Here is a reprint of one of my first posts.  Enjoy.

Last year my husband's grandmother passed away (she was 104!!).  She had lived in her home since 1944 and the home still had most of her original furniture.  Unfortunately for the last seven years of her life she had 24-7 home care and the aides were less than kind to her furniture.  Before this, I had never restored any furniture before.  I hard could it be?

This was in the bedroom where the aides stayed.  The top was covered in water ring stains, and there were papers and I don't even know what else stuck all over the top.  I originally planned to paint it an off white.  I started by sanding the top.  At first I thought I could just use some sandpaper.  Within minutes I realized I needed an electric sander.  While I sanded, I wore a mask...can't stress the importance of this (for the first half hour I didn't - major error in judgment).  As I sanded the piece down which was stained so dark it almost looked black in person, I realized it was solid mahogany (which explains why it weighed so much). There was no way I could paint this piece anymore.  So I decided to completely sand it down to the bare wood and stain the piece.  It took me an entire day to sand the piece down (now while that sounds like a long time, I was so psyched to be restoring the dresser that I was shocked when the sun started going down).

The dresser sits proudly in my great room.  On top of the dresser I have displayed other treasures I found at my husband's grandmother's house (with the exception of the birds and the bookend).

The lamp was a mess when I found it.  I carefully cleaned the bottom and bought a new lampshade.  The books are first edition from the turn of the century.  My husband didn't want me to take the piece initially since I didn't really have a plan on where it would go.  I knew I couldn't let it go to the junkyard.  I'm so glad I took it.

Here is my grandmother-in-law's favorite chair.  The bottom cushion was destroyed so I bought a new piece of foam thinking I could reupholster it.  I decided that I didn't want to ruin the piece (it's hard to see in the picture, but the legs were scratched up quite a bit).

I had a professional reupholster the chair in a neutral fabric (since I wasn't really sure where it was going...this is it's second location so far that I have tried out).

Here was her china cabinet (a picture of it in my grandmother-in-law's dining room).  As you can see there were deep scratches all over it and the shelves were especially scratched.

I didn't want to sand the piece down (now knowing how long it would take I wasn't so ready to do it again).  But I couldn't put it in my home looking that way.  So instead I took stain on a old white t-shirt and lightly rubbed all over the piece.  I couldn't believe that it took away all of the imperfections.  I'm sure someone out there who knows how to do this is cringing, but it worked for me.  It did take almost a week for the piece not to feel tacky, but now it's perfect (it sits outside of my son's room in the hallway and displays his built lego sets).  (I am considering spraying it an off white and using it in my daughter's room instead...what do you think?)

I did the same rubbing technique on this chair
...and this side table

This table was in the worse shape of all.  The top is inlaid leather.  The surrounding wood was very bad. I sanded down to the raw wood the entire top and stained it as close to a color on the legs as possible.  The legs I did the same thing as above just rubbing the stain over the piece which filled in the scratches.  This piece also had rollers on the legs, but only two had them left.  I tried to hunt down new roller feet, but couldn't.  So I removed the remaining two and the table is now stationary.

My favorite before and after, unfortunately doesn't have a before picture.  It was the only dining chair still intact (the rest were literally in pieces throughout the home).  It was a very dark wood and the fabric was 40 years old and in bad condition.  This is what I made of it:

I completely took the chair apart, added new batting, new fabric and nailhead trim.  I got the inspiration to take on this challenge after reading a tutorial on  She is amazing and is really my inspiration for not only this project but for this entire blog.  So thank you to her.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow Update and Pillow Talk - repost

Here in New York we got hit with a huge snow storm.  Here are a couple of pictures to show just how much snow we have gotten so far.

Look at the pizza oven and grill!!

Look at the before and after of the wall and fire pit.  That's a lot of snow!!

This is a post from the very first week of my blog.  I thought it would be nice to re-post it now.

When I think of my daughter at three years old, I picture her wearing her favorite Gymboree sweater.  The colors of the sweater were her favorite colors at that time, which coincidently... or not, are the same colors as her room.  I love pillows and got to thinking that I could make her favorite sweater into a pillow for her bed.
It was much easier than you would think.  I used a sewing machine, but you could easily hand sew the pillow.  I didn't want to cut the sweater so instead I pulled the sleeves inside the sweater which left me with a square.  I then buttoned up the sweater and turned the sweater inside out.  I simply sewed the neck, the two arm holes and the bottom.  I unbuttoned the sweater and turned it back to the right side.  I inserted a pillow form and buttoned up the sweater.  In putting in the pillow form I "hid" the arms behind the pillow form.
Since the sweater was a size 3, it worked very well as it was the same dimensions as a small pillow form.  But why stop at my daughter's room.  My son also had a favorite shirt.
His "Miners" jersey worked well too.  I didn't have those handy buttons, so instead I came up with a different solution.  First I started the same way by pulling the sleeve inside the shirt (again I didn't want to damage the shirt by cutting off the sleeves).  I then turned the shirt inside out.  This shirt had a v-neck that I had to deal with.  I was able to cover the v-neck by using the sleeves and hand sewing the "wrist" sections together.
I then hand sewed the sleeves to the back of the neck.  I decided velcro would be the best way to close this pillow.  So, I turned the shirt back to the right side, left about an inch on the bottom of each side for the velcro.  I bought the sticky velcro so that there was no sewing involved at all.

Both pillows were easy and took less than a half hour each to complete.

 If you don't want to use a sweater, you could also use a sweatshirt or team jersey to create the same look.  I hope you try this at home.  Please send me photos of your pillows.  I would love to post them.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas

It's Christmas Eve and we are busy preparing for our guests that will be arriving in a few short hours.  You know what that means...Santa will be arriving soon.  One of the things that my kids have loved to do for years is track Santa's journey.

If your kids would like to do the same you can click here to do so.  The name of the site is Norad Tracks Santa.  It's a very fun site that tracks Santa's location on Google Earth all through the day and night (since Santa really travels for 24 hours in order to get all around the world).  While you are there you can click on Santa's workshop to see what has been going on there as well.  You can also sign up to track Santa from your cell phone.  We discovered this site a few years ago, and go back year after year.  Hope you check it out.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has visited my blog.  I so appreciate that you would take time out of your day to share a part of my world.  A few short months ago when I started this blog I thought it would be me, myself and I writing and reading this blog.  It's been amazing making so many new friends and finding so much inspiration.  Each and every comment means a great deal to me and inspires me more and more.  Thank you so much for making this such a positive experience.  I will be re-posting some of my first posts next week (when it really was only me, myself and I).  I will also be trying to create a button and tweak some of the design elements of my blog over the week between Christmas and New Years.  I look forward to the New Year and sharing all of this with you as well as sharing more of my adventures in decorating.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Attic Find

A few weeks back I was helping my parents clean out their attic.  In one of the boxes I found this:

It was dirty and tarnished but I knew it had potential to be beautiful.  With a soft cloth and some tarn-x I went to work on it.

It took a little bit of time and effort, but in the end I got a great piece.  My mom thinks it was my Grandmother's.  Either way...I'm just happy I saved it from being thrown out.  

Technically it's a old fashioned coffee maker.  I don't think I will use it as it was intended...I just love how it looks.

It makes a lovely touch to my holiday table.  You never know what you might find in a forgotten box in the attic.  

Two days until Christmas...ready or not it's almost here.  I think I'm ready.  How about you?  Hope to hear from you.  As always, I love and appreciate your comments.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Patio Finally Finished

The patio is finally finished.  Actually it has been finished for almost two weeks, but it snowed here in New York the day after the granite went in, so I couldn't get good pictures until this morning.
When you walk from from front yard to my backyard, this is the path that leads you to the new patio.  Near the wall to the right is our new fire pit.

Here is a picture of the fire pit from the other side.  The kids cannot wait to fire up the pit.  We may fire it up for Christmas Eve if it isn't ridiculously cold.

Here is the outdoor kitchen with the granite.  It looks amazing.  This entire countertop has only one seam in it...hidden behind the grill.  The granite people said this was the largest single piece of granite they have ever installed.

We have used the pizza oven three times already.  It is a very cool thing.  We are still learning the tricks of how to build the best fire, but it's getting easier.  You do need 2 1/2 to 3 hours of lead time to build a fire that gets white hot.  The pizzas cook in less than four minutes and come out like real pizzeria pizzas.  We buy the dough from our local pizza place.  Easier than me making dough from scratch right now.  Maybe at some point we will try that.  For Christmas Eve we will be making pizzas cut up into appetizer size for when our guests first start to arrive.  The warming oven and two drawers are on the right in the picture above.

Next is the side burner, the grill and the outdoor refrigerator.  We haven't gotten to use any of these yet.  Hopefully over the break.

Those planters weigh a ton.  So much, that it took three guys to carry each.  I want one moved a little bit...I couldn't even budge it.

This is the view when standing on the pool deck.
Another view while standing by the pool.

Remember where this project began:

Quite a difference now:

As soon as Spring arrives, I will be planting and furnishing the patio.  I can't wait to post those pictures.  But for now, we are thrilled that the project is done.  Can't wait to hear what you think.

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