Friday, November 30, 2012

Pre-owned Art

There is a project in our house that I am particularly proud of, simply because of it's organic origins. It started out using 100% products we already had on hand, and was a completely free decorative art project that I love! (Once you find out what it is, you may wonder why the sense of pride [because it's really quite simple], but you must know about me that I do not have a creative bone in my body. So coming up with ideas for the house is not exactly something that comes naturally, so when I do end up creating something or having a brilliant idea on my own, no matter how small, it's a big deal.) Phil has always been a fan of what I lovingly call "stick art." You know, those vases at Target and Pier 1 you see that are just chock full of... well, sticks. I never understood it. Here's an example of what I'm talking about (thanks Pinterest!):
This actually is one of the better versions of this concept I've seen. There are much uglier ones in the world, I promise you. And I had never thought of it as something I'd want in my house.


Yup, I was converted! Something about being FREE just makes a concept automatically more my bag. (I also apologize for the crappy photography.  It's something I'm working on, and once a project has been altered [which this one has], I can't exactly go back and get a better shot. Also, Phil broke my camera so I've only got my phone camera to work with right now).  The vase was already on hand, and the sticks are actually dead branches from our elderberry bushes in the backyard.  The idea hit me when trimming back some dead branches this summer.. after dumping a bunch in the trash bin I realized they might look better in a vase. I was right.

After sitting with that gnarly purple vase for a while, though, I found the color and shininess of the vase to be not so easy on the eyes.  The shade of purple just did not jive with the other colors in the room.  So I remedied this with a $5 spool of burlap ribbon from Hobby Lobby and...

Instantly better! Magically, the project not only had a much more palatable color, but also got some sweet texture and a funky new vibe.  While this regrettably made the project no longer free, the ribbon will last beyond this project and was a worthwhile expense in my mind.

So to take you back in time for a moment, and explain why such a stick art project was so exciting, this project started as a way to fill this random ledge/mantel that is adjacent to the fireplace mantel.

It feels like such a tall space, and without anything with some height it just looked perpetually empty and cold.  Smaller-scale items just didn't fill the space and it felt unfinished and half-assed.

See how those small trinkets just don't quite do it in that tall space. It just looks... bad.  So I knew we needed something with some height, and had visions of having to shell out serious $$ to get some sort of tall statue or something.   Until my genius kicked in, that is.

See how it fills that space so well, and no longer makes that corner feel so awkward. Even tucked behind seasonal trinkets, it's nice to have that space filled.

And it works from various angles.  Since this area is on a corner, you see it in many different perspectives depending on where you are in the house.  Works from the front, as you see above.

Works from the side, too.  This is the view walking into the living area from the entryway area.

Considering a vase full of sticks can run you $20 or upwards, I'm pleased to have spent just a few buckaroos on this puppy. Plus, the pride that comes from having come up with this solution to this random, empty corner of mantel is priceless.  I've also been trying to customize it for the seasons/holidays by sticking branches full of colorful fall leaves in there, or branches full of mini-crabapples that I find in the yard.  The problem with that is it looks great for a day or two, but then the leaves/berries start to die and look trashy, and that makes it pretty high-maintenance (yes, swapping out a couple branches every couple days makes a project high maintenance in my book). High maintenance is not so much my bag, so for the most part this sucker stays as is in the pic above. But it's fun to know I can doll it up if I wanted to for a party or what have you. (And please ignore the random selection of knick knacks that surround the vase. I can't quite get the adjacent trinkets to look right and it's constantly changing). 

Lesson Learned: Before you go spending your hard earned cash on art or decor, take a look around and see what you've already got.  And never rule out what you might find outside! 

Wow thanks for sticking with me through that.  I didn't know I had that much to say about such a simple project. Whew. Has anyone else magically found a great project hiding in a closet, or in their backyard? Do you have any other ideas for how to turn already owned items into art or house decor?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bedroom Peep Show

Get your mind out of the gutter, people, this blog is about houses! Anyway, this post serves to simply share in the excitement that Phil and I finally, after 6 months, have found some direction for our master bedroom, and want to share a little preview (or PEEP, if you will) of what we have in mind. The room has gone completely untouched so far, and the disaster area finally got to us enough to light a fire under our bums. So we decided that our Christmas present to each other would be to finally furnish and decorate our bedroom. Oh joy! Then it only took a few hours of deliberation before we landed on a direction as far as paint colors, etc., and here's a sneak peek at what we ended up with....

Oh yeah. We are not messing around with this room. Those of you who know Phil well may be shocked that he would go for something like this (I'm the more bright, funky color one of the family - he's more into neutral [aka boring] stuff).  But I pitched my idea with such cunning skill that he went for it.  The plan is for the walls to be some sort of dark grey/slate color, and because we are planning to build or thrift all of our furniture in there, we solved the problem of making furniture that doesn't match match - by making it so far from matching it seems purposeful. Each piece of furniture will be one of those bright colors, which against the gray walls, gets me excited. The hope is it will be super funky, fun and unique with the bright colors on the furniture, but still cozy and neutral with the grey walls. The dresser we pulled off the curb in my parent's neighborhood is already on it's way to embracing that funky green in the pic above (stay tuned for more info on that!).

Our plan for the master bath (which is directly connected to the bedroom, with no door or anything so you see into it from the bedroom), is to either continue the grey onto the bathroom walls and paint the vanity cabinets a funky color OR paint the walls in the bathroom a funky color (since there really isn't a ton of wall space in there) and paint/stain the cabinets a more neutral color. Still have some decisions to make.

Lesson Learned: Go big or go home! We aren't 100% sure that this idea will look as good as it does in our heads, but in the name of not having a super bland, could-see-it-in-the-pages-of-a-JCPenny-catalog house, we are going for it!

Has anyone else attempted a similar design concept/color scheme in their house? How did it turn out? Ever start moving forward on a risky design without being sure it would turn out?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Be Our Guest

I thought long and hard (like, a full 3 minutes) about what to do my first real post about... seeing as how we've been at this house thing for 6 months already we've got quite a backlog of projects I could write about. I finally landed on our basement guest bedroom, because it was one of the first projects we got 100% complete (it might actually still be one of our only projects that is 100% complete), and that we have the most pictures of.  So guest bedroom it is!

Something I am still learning is the value of BEFORE pictures. Many of these first posts will require imagination to picture what things looked like before we got our hands on them, because I just plain didn't think to take pictures before we got started. So I apologize for that. Lesson learned.  This is one of those times, so get your imagining caps on.

Picture a basement bedroom, white walls, blue carpet, empty. Pretty much a blank slate.

And here is the after...

 Ta da! The furniture is all our old bedroom furniture (that I've had for 5 years now), that we decided to put in the guest room in hopes of eventually upgrading to some better furniture in the master bedroom (which has yet to happen, except for some thrifted furniture that is still taking up residence in the garage).  The sheets came from Target and the art above the bed came from HomeGoods.  The lamps were Phil's from a long time ago, that actually had been moved around from apartment to apartment and never really used.  They were originally silver with wood accents, but I spray painted the wooden parts white so they would match better (and just be less fugly in general).
 See those grey/silver mini blinds? They came with the house (score!), and in any other context they'd be awful. But they actually ended up working serendipitously with the yellow and gray color scheme I had in mind.  As for how I came up with the color scheme, I think I just saw the colors together in a picture somewhere or something, and loved it. I thought yellow was a great color for the basement (it makes it so bright!), and pairing it with the dark wood furniture and gray accents made it feel less grandma-y.
All of those accessories are also from HomeGoods, and cost us a whopping $0 thanks to a collection of gift cards we accumulated (my birthday + closing on our first house = an influx of generous house related gifts from family and friends).

So there you have it! It might seem random to have our guest bedroom be one of the first projects tackled, but we had a slew of house guests over the summer, so we wanted to be able to provide them with a finished space to stay in. The guest bathroom in the basement is also 100% complete (well, aside from some upgrades we'd like to tackle way down the line), but I have yet to take a single picture of that room, so you will have to wait (with bated breath, I'm sure) to see that one.

LESSON(S) LEARNED: Take before pictures! Oh, and enlisting your rock star friends is a great way to get projects banged out in no time (props to MEGAN for helping me paint this room AND the guest bathroom all in one day!!).

So who's coming for a visit next?! As you can see, we are perpetually ready for guests! Come on over! ;)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Well Hello There

So I randomly decided to start a blog as a place to document our progress on our first house.  Partially for those friends/family members who aren't local and who can't just pop over and see our progress (or those who are too lazy to), and partially just for us to be able to process and reflect on all our hard work, and to be able to go back in time to see where we started and revel in our epic home improvement abilities (right). So read it, don't read it, love it, hate it, I don't really care. It's mostly just for us, but if someone else gets their jollies off reading about our house, or is in a similar place in life and wants to get ideas and learn from our successes and failures, then I'm on board with that and welcome. :)

We've been in our house for about 6 months now, and have already tackled a fair amount. I'll try to document some of the things we've already done, and catch everyone up, and then move forward documenting projects yet to be tackled.

Oh and in case you were curious about the title of this blog, it's pretty simple - I'm an idiot when it comes to home improvement and DIY.  I am learning along the way and making lots of mistakes along the way, as well. So just be forewarned, Martha Stewart I am not. I rarely complete a project in one shot. For example, a couple weeks ago I tried to install a simple door stop and totally messed it up, drilling holes in the wrong place and ending up with 2 extra holes in the door. Luckily they are at about toe-height so only our eight legged friends will notice (and they're pretty nonjudgmental so I feel okay about that).

To start us off, here's a simple snapshot of Phil (Mr. Idiot) and I posing in front of our new home on our closing day this past May.
Thanks for stopping by, see you soon!