Everybody get pumped! It’s planning time! I am always really over ambitious about the projects I can accomplish each year, but I’m really trying to rein it in to the projects that are possible for one person to do in a year.Continue reading “Projects on the Docket for 2020”
I bought a house! AHHHHHHHHH!! That is the sounds of my brain doing somersaults with my stomach. It’s a lovely feeling. But, truly, this is an incredibly exciting thing I’ve been wanting for a looong time. To have a place of my own feels fantastic! We closed on August 18th and I’ve been up to my ears in dirt, dust, and tools ever since. It’s the best thing ever. I finally feel settled in to my own home and you can bet that I’ll be
tearing up DIYing the heck out of this place. In fact, I’ve already gotten started, but before I share that, I’ll give you a look around the place!
moneypit house is a real fixer-upper and not in a cute Joanna Gains farmhouse-y style. As in, this house needs help. BIG HELP. And I’m here to lend a hand! Pretty much everything needs fixing on this place, and yes I do mean everything. Name something that could need to be repaired on a home and this house needs it. Although to some, that could be completely daunting, I’m just looking forward to many years of projects ahead! Which is excellent considering that’s all I’ll be doing for the next long while.
From the very first moment I saw the first pictures of this house on Redfin, I knew it was my house. I literally gasped aloud and got a strange feeling in my gut. THIS was my house. I knew it. After seven months of looking and putting in offer after offer, I had found the one. It checked all the boxes: pre-1940s, 2+ bedrooms, a big yard, room to grow, good location near shops and restaurants, easy commute, plenty of projects. Y’all are going to think I’m crazy when you get a look at these pictures, but something about this house is just so right. Enough preamble, though! Let’s dive in.
That very first image I ever saw of the house looked something like this one below. Basically, you could tell there was a house and that it was blue, but mostly all you saw was greenery!
At some point, someone really loved this yard and planted tons of wonderful things like walnut trees, redbuds, hydrangeas, asparagus, mint, dill, parsley, fuschias, roses, etc etc etc. That person has not lived in this house for a loooong time though and in the last many years, this yards have become completely overgrown. It’s a mess! But a glorious mess full of glorious surpises like late blooming Magnolia trees and hidden troves of bricks!
You walk to the front door of the house through the driveway, which isn’t ideal, but I’m unlikely to be able to afford to change that any time soon. So everyone who comes over is greeted by the sight of my lovely garage. Don’t mind the doors. That’s just what they look like when they think they’re “closed.”
The garage is basically falling down. But don’t worry, it’s not the garage’s fault. The garage has a terrible parasite: poorly planned additions. Yup, that’s right folks, the garage has not one, not two, but three additions! Awww, bless it’s little heart, it is still hanging in there.
If we walk down the driveway to the back of the house, you get to meet yet another fun add-on: an octagonal deck and it’s multi-material roof. Now this is beauty, ladies and gentleman. Oh and yes, it is also basically falling down.
Does the above picture confuse you a little bit? Here, let me help. This should explain things better…
Still confused? Me too. Let me try to state a few facts to help clarify. The above picture shows two of the garage additions: a workshop and a chicken coop. The structure coming out of the garage is the roof that covers the deck. It’s made of corrugated fiberglass, plywood(??), and a whole lot of screws. The supports for this little DIY roof, descend into the garage and chicken coop roofs, essentially ensuring that all water will collect there and all the things will rot. It’s a fantastic design. Truly, I could not have thought of it myself. The octagonal deck is made of 8 sides of different lengths varying from 15′ to 2′, just because, why not? The stairs of the deck descend into the corner of the garage and end about 4″ from it. As far as I can tell, this is designed specifically so that when you fall down the stairs your skull will crack completely open. That’s just my interpretation though. Also, this deck? Covers seemingly perfect condition original concrete steps. God, I love this house.
On to the backyard. This – and no sarcasm here – is what truly won my heart. This yard is bursting with potential. Potential and a whole lot of berries. On the far right is a huge magnolia tree that provides plenty of shade for a future table and chairs. Beyond that? All berries. Yup that huge mound of greenery is all RASPBERRIES!! AKA the best thing on earth except for chocolate. I spent my time touring this house eating raspberries from the backyard and it was heavenly. I cannot wait until next summer! You can also see a falling down fence, 1940s laundry line, and the huge chicken coop window in this picture. Why your chicken coop needs such a large window is a little beyond me, but I am assuming it’s so your chickens can torture Portland’s raccoons and coyotes.
Here’s another view of the backyard looking towards the front. Here you see a huge rosemary bush, tons and tons of mint, a redbud tree, some parsley, and plenty of bees & butterflies. It’s really gorgeous if you can get past the flaking paint on the house. Yup the house needs painting. And a roof. Somehow I can afford this? I am surprised too. Luckily the windows are all updated! They’re double-paned which is pretty essential here in the Pacific Northwest. They are dark green vinyl exterior, wood interior windows which although it’s not my first choice, I’m pretty happy to have updated windows. I get to pick a really awesome paint color for the house’s siding to coordinate with the hunter green exterior windows and I can paint the inside any thing I want!
Let’s go inside shall we? Here is the foyer! I am obsessed with this multi-paneled door. I think it is absolutely gorgeous and just needs to be sanded down and re-stained a darker walnut tone. That will make it look far less orange and 1980s. The foyer is open to the living room. Originally, this part of the house was an exterior porch that was converted into living space in the earlier part of the century. You can see the transition of the flooring. When they enclosed the porch they decided to keep the downward slope of the floor (that all porches have for drainage). That, my friends, is called “character.” The light fixture is kind of hideous, but also weird and beautiful, so I’m keeping it. The opening on the right to the dining room.
The floors in the house are softwood – fir. They’re gorgeous and miraculously in good shape! The living room is relatively spacious and gets great light through south and west facing windows. The fireplace is an “update” from the 1960s or maybe 1970s. I’ll be completely reworking it down the line, but for now, it’s a functional fireplace! Which means s’mores! And fire! The pyro in me is just too pleased.
This picture explains some of the flow of the house too. Standing in the corner of the room by the fireplace you can look out of the big front window to the front
jungle yard and almost see the front door tucked in the niche in the corner. The dining room opens to the living room and you can almost see it on the right.
The dining room is a little less bright since it has more northern light, but it’s a great size and fits my round table with room to grow. There is also a closet which we can’t close the door to, because it gets stuck shut. Which it is right now. Stuck shut, I mean. Just add that to my to do list, mmkay, thanks! Shout out to my dad about to walk up the front steps carrying tools though!
Next you go through this teeny hall that has the basement door on one side and this strange hall to the lower floor bedroom on the other side. This is from the end of the hall looking towards the living room. The ceiling in the hall here drops lower because of the stairs. This lovely accordion door could be closed if you wanted to hide the kitchen from view. But yeah, that door already bit the dust. No thanks, accordion door!
The weird little hall to the bedroom is kinda gross, but there’s a big closet at the end. This will end up being my closet because there isn’t actually a closet in the lower floor bedroom. PFffft. Closets. Whatever. So last year.
The lower floor bedroom will end up being my bedroom. The other two I will be renting out. This room has nice high ceilings, picture railing, and northern light (good for sleeping). It also has a 24″ wide door to Portland’s smallest powder room.
If you ever wanted to wash your hands while peeing, this bathroom is for you. Your knees literally tuck right under the wall mounted sink. In a bathroom this small, you’d better add 1970’s faux-paneling though. That’s the cherry on top. Truly, it’s precious, vct flooring and all. Plus look! The previous owner left us toilet paper.
Let’s go into the kitchen. Look at these cabinets! The wallpaper! The old cast iron sink! This room is pretty dim from the roof that’s over the back deck, but I have a quick fix for that. It’s called demo. I wanted to try to keep these cabinets, they’re not in bad shape at all! Two weeks into the house, and I’m not positive they’re salvageable though. The flooring in this room though? The exact same as what my Oma had in her kitchen!
Here’s a shot of the room that helps with layout. I took this standing on the landing of the stairs that lead to the upper level of the house. Look how cute the glass cabinets are though! SO MUCH POTENTIAL!
This is one of my favorite details of the house. a little paint, a little crown moulding, and these will be cute cute cute!
But why talk about the cute when we can talk about the ugly? Let’s go into the bathroom! Space planning these bathrooms was an issue. They’re also located in part of the house that was originally the back porch and it’s only about 54″ wide. So clearly you should put a ginormous bathtub in there, slap sheet vinyl on the floor AND the vanity, paint the walls dark magenta, and buy a pink toilet to match. It’s only right!
Okay, let’s move on. The stairs! They’re not so bad! I mean the railing is black because it’s apparently NEVER been cleaned, but other than that, they’re quite pretty and not super narrow like most added to this era of home.
The bedrooms on the second level are both under the eaves and just so cute. They both get fantastic light and are super cozy. And by cozy, I mean hot as balls right now, but you get the picture. The plaster is looking not so great on that back wall because someone plastered over wallpaper, because… well I’ve already said it.
The closets in this room are a little funky, but that’s just vintage. A little rehab-ing and it will be completely adorable. Look at the gorgeous door though! Five panels!!!! I love it, love it, love it. Also the daisy flower heat register? THERE IS NOTHING MORE CHARMING.
The other bedroom is where I am currently
sweating sleeping, because I’ve given the lower floor bedroom to my parents who are helping me jump start the renovations on this place. Yay! Parents! The closet in here is a little more spacious and a little less funky. The room is a sweat sweet blue color that will be great in the fall or whenever Oregon decides to no longer be 100+ degrees. It’s just a tad hot at the moment. But my tried and true method of sleeping with a washcloth full of ice is doing the trick.
And that’s it! That’s the house! I can’t wait to share all that I’ve been up to in the last few weeks and all that I’ve been dreaming about starting in the months to come. Get ready for oversharing and lots of learning experiences. Like this one for instance: I recently learned that I look like this after spending 3 hours moving bricks in 100° heat.
I promise, give me a few months and this house will be almost as beautiful as that face. If that’s even possible. And if the spiders I keep finding EVERYWHERE don’t eat me first. Only time will tell!
Oh! And I named the house. Or I named the property. I am a total nerd, but I’ve always loved when people named their homes. This place is officially named Berrybrier. I’ll get into all the reasons later, but a good part of the origin starts with that out of control raspberry bush in the backyard!
So what do you think? Am I totally crazy, in over my head? Probably. Did you buy a fixer upper? Have tips for laying brick patios? What is your house called?
Some people spend their free time dreaming of vacations and planning their futures, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about sheets. My patterned bed sheets had finally had enough. They’d given up, they’d ripped, they’d torn, they’d stained. It was the end. They knew it. Malary knew it. I was in denial, but deep down, I still knew it. What I could not find though was the perfect sheets for my bed! Bring on the bloodhounds, because this was about to get serious. I needed new sheets and I was going to find some good ones. You can see my old sheets here, both before and after I got my quilt. They were part of this collection from the Target Threshold line about a year ago. They’ve since discontinued the pattern, but the new patterns are pretty cute! I love that blue geo.
I was tempted to go with one of the new patterns from the same line, but they just weren’t right. Plus, I’d really only had my sheets from this line for one year and they’d already ripped along a couple seams and they were worn and stained on the fitted sheet where I slept. Not a gross, unidentifiable stain or anything. But there was kind of an outline of my body, probably from sweat and oil and the fact that I sleep in exactly the same place every night. The sheets also felt different in this spot. They pilled a little bit and were not as crisp feeling as the rest of the sheets. You couldn’t tell any of this unless you were actively making the bed up, so it wasn’t overt in the least, but I knew about it. Is this too much information? I just wanted y’all to be totally informed about the quality of these sheets. My verdict? They did not last as long as I’d expected. Nosiree!
My problem when I’m looking for things for my home is my vivid imagination. Usually, before I even start searching, I know exactly what the item I want looks like. Vividly, from the scale of the pattern, to the exact shade (in this case) of green. Obviously, this makes things tricky as I don’t have a line of sheets I’ve designed, and thus cannot pluck my imagined sheet set from my imagination and wrap them over my bed. Maybe one day. But now? I am stuck on the search and have to find a compromise.
I think that there are a range of compromises. When anyone is looking to buy anything, I think it is best to go in with a set of guidelines, a list of must haves. These are the things you cannot, will not, compromise on. For my search for the perfect sheets my must have list looked like this:
- Organic, I believe in organic cotton, because I am going to sleep on these sheets for 8+ hours every night for as long as they’ll last, and I simply do not want any residue of pesticides that close to my skin for that length of time. If I could, every piece of linen or clothing item I bought would be organic and colored with natural dyes. Since this is not feasible (budget, style, etc) for me at this point in my life, I have to pick and choose. For me, sheets are a priority and organic sheets are easy to find!
- Patterned, some people love the look of simple, clean, all white bedding with the only accent or color coming from a pillow or throw blanket, but not me! I love pattern and color and mixing the two. Since my bedding is made up of a busy, multi-colored, large scale patterned duvet and euros; a dark red quilt with simple square stitching; simple, white standard shams; and gold sequined throw pillows, I wanted to balance the solids with another pattern. The patterning, however, needed to be dual color and pretty small scaled in order to not compete with the rest of the fabrics.
- Queen-sized, there are always some concessions to be made, but for sheets, size is not one of them!
- 50% or more white in the patterning, so much of my bedding is saturated in color, there is only mild contrast with my dark headboard and furnishings. I wanted my sheets to help lighten the bedding and room.
- Green, I knew exactly what shade of green I wanted my sheets to be. That perfect green- somewhere between yellow, lime, and split pea soup- was the same green found in the greenery in my floral my duvet cover.
Little did I know, but in this situation, one of my “must” haves simply had to drop out. The sheets I found, though, still take the cake! Here are several I seriously considered, just in case any of you are on the hunt for sheets!
- The first sheets I looked at were again from the Target Threshold Organic Sheet Set line. But, the plain white was the only one that would really work with the rest of my bedding and that felt too boring to me. Plus, for the reasons described above, I was a little skeptical of their quality.
2. I fell pretty hard for these Pottery Barn Marlo Organic Sheets when I first saw them over a year ago. The pattern is wonderful and small enough in scale to not compete with most other patterns. Having grown up in a Spanish style home, the Spanish/Moroccan influence in the pattern appeals to me. The dual-color palette was precisely what I was looking for, but it wasn’t green and I worried the pattern was still too large against my floral duvet cover. Still, in another world, I’d go for these in a heartbeat!
3. I knew Coyuchi organic cotton sheets were the height of luxury. West Elm even sells a sheet set from their line! These Sand Dollar Printed Sheets were the right scale and they even came in green, but the sand dollars don’t really fit in with my floral bedspread and the green wasn’t the exact right shade I wanted. Plus the $298.00 price tag for the queen sized set threw me a bit. That was way over my limited budget. I did love many of the other sheets Coyuchi sells though. Each and every single one is organic!
4. My search continued and after looking at many more patterned sheets, I looked for something more simple and found these Organic Mod Stripe Sheets at West Elm. I focused on the more neutral Belgian Flax color at first, before realizing I much preferred the Light Pool color. The dual-color pattern was precisely 50% white, like I was looking for and it was simple and small enough in scale to not compete with my duvet. But they did not come in any shade of green! The horizontal striping was interesting since sheets tend to come in vertical stripes.
5. I loved these Loomis Stripe Organic Sheets from Pottery Barn on first sight. The two colored stripe provided interest and allowed most of the sheet to be white. They contained the perfect shade of green I was so desperately searching for, but also a navy. I adored them, but did I really want to add another color to my already colorful room?
Can you guess which of the five I ended up springing for? Or which point I had concede on?
Prices lowered on one of the sets and the sale helped me snag those sheets for $69. Not cheap, but not as expensive as they could have gone for. As soon as they arrived at my door, I washed and dried them, and threw them on my bed. Instantly cute! Instantly more finished. Instantly tied in with all the other color!
Yup, that’s right! I went with the unexpected and choose the Organic Mod Stripe Sheets from West Elm. Blue, not green! A real curve ball (from my perspective at least!). It was actually a bit of a gamble, because I hoped (but wasn’t sure) that the “Light Pool” color of the sheets was the same aqua color in the little blue flowers on my duvet and euros. When the sheets arrived I heaved a big sigh of relief, they were a match!
That’s one of the best things about this duvet, it works in a few hues from several different colors (red, green, pink, aqua), allowing it to coordinate with nearly everything. It’s really very fortunate and makes me love the modern floral even more! You might also note the flowers on my nightstand. They were a cute birthday gift from my friend Hannah, the vase I inherited from my Oma, but how perfectly do they go with my bedding! Same aqua! Same red! Same pink! Totally perfect. Sigh… it’s the little things in life that make me smile.
So there you have it. A couple months search, some compromises, and a win-win situation. I love the sheets, they help tie everything (including the red quilt ) together. I finally feel like this year long hunt for bedding can come to a close. The new sheets and the switching out the standard shams from the red quilted ones back to my original white shams, make the red quilt feel far less out of place. Now everything coordinates and I can sleep easy. Whew.
Plus, I’ve totally proved that stripes go with florals! Just match the colors and you’re golden. Hooray! Any one else looking for new sheets? Coordinating patterns? Maybe I should take my stripes/florals and apply it to fashion. That would be an outfit!
Guess what guys? It’s Christmas. Yup, Christmas! You thought Christmas was in December? Nope. You’ve maybe heard of Christmas in July? Also wrong! It’s Christmas right now, today. Still confused? Here’s the 411.
When I moved into my house in Berkeley, I bought a lot of my existing furnishings and bedding with the idea of slowly updating a lot of it. It soon became clear that this might need to happen sooner rather than later for my bedding. Why? My comforter, barely warm enough during California winters in other rooms I’ve slept in, was excruciatingly hot in this 10 year old, properly insulated home. I woke up sweating almost every night and this was with the window left open in winter! Time for a change!
I went to IKEA and bought a new down comforter, one of their “coolest” models. This is it, I thought. This comforter weighs one third of my old one. It will be so much cooler. I will no longer get sweaty. I will sleep blissfully. Like an angel. This was right around when I bought my new West Elm duvet cover. I had high hopes for my new bedroom look!
A few nights in, I realized, although this new comforter was significantly cooler than my original one, it wasn’t cool enough. At all. I like to sleep snuggled up in warm bedding in a cool room and this was just too hot, even with the window open! Maybe I’m wearing the wrong pajamas, I thought. I tried long pants, I wore no pants, I tried tank tops. I wore just underwear, I tried nightgowns, I wore leggings, I wore REI moisture-wicking base layers. Nothing worked. Okay, fine, I thought, I can come up with another solution, this is so much better than having the opposite problem. And I’ve lived through that too.
I started looking for quilts. A thin quilt would surely be cool enough! Now, I just need to find one in a great green color to match everything else in my room. Months past… I looked on every site and in every store I could think of. I found… nothing in green. Eventually, I stumbled on this quilt from West Elm. It didn’t come in green. At this point, I was sleep deprived from being too warm. I started to care less about green. I started to rely on my primitive lizard brain. My primitive lizard brain likes the color red. So does my frontal lobe, actually, but my frontal lobe is much better about regulating the amount of red. It’s good at mixing red with neutrals. My lizard brain doesn’t give a flying @!$&. My lizard brain wanted to sleep in a cool environment and not wake up sweating.
Then the quilt went on sale. My lizard brain just loves a good sale. It was definitely in control when I hopped on those nightstands I posted about Monday like they were big, juicy, lizard-food bugs. What happened next? I’m sure you can guess. I bought the quilt in the paprika color and the matching standard shams. When these came in the mail, I love them. They’re a beautiful red, my absolute favorite shade of red! I was excited. These will look fantastic, I thought.
Then I washed them and made up my bed…
Merry Christmas! Don’t you just love decorating with red and green? OOPS.
I’d convinced myself before pushing the “Place Order” button, that the red quilt would look fine in my bedroom. After all, the duvet had plenty of red in it! In reality? Happy Christmas. My pale green walls, green throw, and even the floral duvet met up with the red quilt and started celebrating the birth of Jesus. Throw in some gold sequined throw pillows and you’ve really got a Christmas party! Doggoneit. Switching up the nightstands with the blue and green books was also an attempt to help with my new holiday inspired space.
… it didn’t really help much.
The red completely dominated the other colors in my duvet. The shades of white, blue, green– they all disappeared. All I see now is red. And it’s not because I’m angry. Let’s call this learning. Let’s call this evolving.
Even Malary wasn’t happy with the new look.
Here’s the thing though, the quilt did solve some of my problems. It is the perfect weight. I am no longer super hot at night. I can even sleep with the window closed now! I don’t wake up all hot and sweaty. I no longer sing Nelly’s Hot in Herre at 2:00am. My roommates are much appreciative! So in some ways, this quilt is the best thing ever! Now, if only I had bought it in that pretty Natural/Flax color rather than Paprika… But, I am no good at keeping light neutrals, oh, how should I say it? Light and neutral. They usually become spotted and dark. Quickly. Nope, white and lights don’t mix well with clumsy ole me! Slate might have worked… but it was so dark!
So what am I going to do? Live with it for now. Maybe switch up the shams and get some different throw pillows. Or! Move to a place with a guest bedroom and split up the bedding, since I love them both so dearly. That’s not happening anytime soon though… And I do love throw pillows. Until I move forward with a new plan, I’ll just be over here celebrating Christmas. All day. Everyday. Good thing I love holidays!! I would like a design win though… I’m over failing!
I found new nightstands! Finally. Yup, that took a while. Before I jump into the new, let’s go over this again. You might remember my old nightstands? They were about 16 inches too tall for my bed and belonged to my parents. I’d promised them I would eventually return the side tables and when they bought a new bed for their guest room, I knew it was time. Their new bed is the perfect height for these tall, dark, and handsome guys.
I’d been checking craigslist, yard sales, and estate sales for about 8 months now, searching for anything that I could substitute these guys for. I needed something about 20″ – 26″ high and no more than 24″ wide. The width was a major issue, as I truly only have 25″ on either side of my bed. Any nightstand wider than that simply wouldn’t fit in the room. The deeper, the nightstand, the better, as I am lacking in storage. I hoped for something with lots of drawers I could fill up. My love of symmetry demanded there be two identical ones. After months of looking, I finally landed on this somewhat promising looking ad:
The nightstands looked functional and the drawer was much needed, plus there were two of them and the price was decent. I didn’t love the color, but I figured I could always paint them green or white or blue. The fact that they only had one drawer, deterred me slightly, but I had yet to find anything else that would come close to fitting in my space. Plus, I could always stick a basket there and fill that up. I figured I might as well give it a try. I emailed the seller to see if he’d take $50 for both of them. He agreed to the price and I met him the next day with cash. When I took a look at the nightstands in person, I was disappointed. His measurements from the ad were completely wrong. The nightstands are 20 inches wide, 14″ deep, and 24.5″ high. It may seem like only a slight difference, but when you’re lacking storage and need incredibly functional nightstands, every inch counts! My plan to paint them would still work, however, the wood finish was in such good shape, I was hesitant to even do that!
I turned to the seller and told him that the nightstands were a lot smaller than what I was anticipating and I didn’t want them. He was surprised, but he really wanted to get rid of them. He offered me $40 for both. Now, a normal person would simply have walked away. They didn’t really fit my needs, right? I am not a normal person. This was such a deal! Two solid wood, matching nightstands in great shape with dovetail joints? This isn’t an everyday find. Maybe I’d learn to love them. At $20 each, they were significantly less expensive than anything else I’d see. Most people on craigslist were asking for $200 per nightstand. Way out of my budget. So what did I do?
I handed over two twenties and left with the nightstands of course.
I have no will power. None. At all. Whatsoever. Just ask that bar of chocolate in my kitchen… Oh wait. You can’t. I already ate it!
I brought the nightstands home and wiped them down with Honest Multi-Purpose spray. Once they were clean, I moved them into my room. I didn’t want to buy baskets for them just yet, so I filled the bottoms with what I had lots of: books. They looked… okay. Sigh. Not exactly the magical moment I was hoping for…
Even if that photo had been taken when the weather was sunny and the lighting cooperative, they general idea wouldn’t change much. The new nightstands just didn’t look right in the space. Dang! The books certainly were not helping. The color of the nightstands contrasted both from the red tone of the fir woodwork in the house and the espresso finish on my headboard. This was not good.
I tried one more time to make things look a bit better and filled the nightstands with blue and green books in tones similar to that in my bedding. This helped things, but honestly, the nightstands were still not doing it for me. Sure, the book storage was great and I could even slip my laptop in there among them, but I lost tons of storage overall and this just didn’t look great.
I was somewhat surprised that I had enough books in these color tones to fill the other nightstand. I have a lot of books. Possibly too many, but whatever, I love them. And I re-read them! Also does anyone else see a monster peeking up out of the floor in the shadow outline of the bottom of the nightstands in between the feet? Just the top of his head, two little ears sticking out?Just what I need, right? A monster hiding in my bedroom. As if I don’t already have enough stress dreams!
Still this look… wasn’t working for me. I thought, maybe if I lived with them I’d learn to love them. So one month later here I am. What have I decided? Nothing. What have I created? A Pro/Con List.
New Nightstand Pros
- They’re the right height for the bed, making turning on or off the light at night easy
- They are wide enough to fit the space by the bed, but skinny enough to not overwhelm the space or make it look stuffed in
- I can store books here!
- I can paint them green or white
- I have a great excuse to buy cute new pulls at Athropologie or the Alameda Flea Market
New Nightstand Cons
- The wood tone is awful, but the finish is in such good shape, I’d feel guilty painting them
- There is not enough storage
- The drawer is too shallow to fit some of the taller things I’d like to store in it (like vitamins!)
- I could fit wider nightstands for more storage
- I don’t particularly like the curvy look
Conclusions? These nightstands work in some ways, but not others. If I didn’t need more storage they would be okay. I don’t love the look, so why keep them? I’ve already started looking for new ones on craigslist. I also have high hopes for a nice sunny spring day hitting up some Santa Cruz yard sales too. My Aunt Pat is the queen of Santa Cruz yard sales and we could make a fun day of it. If only it would stop raining!
Yay for mistakes! Someone told me once to be proud of your failures, because how else do you learn? In fact, she told me to yell it out. So, here it goes. I FAILED!! These nightstands were the wrong choice.
Moving on. What have I learned? Sometimes, you should just wait it out until you find something truly perfect for your space. Once I find new nightstands, I’ll sell these guys on craigslist and hopefully make a small profit. Someone else out there must be looking for matching nightstands right? Fingers crossed! It certainly has been a rough design rollercoaster in 2016. I’ll share some other not so great things I’ve bought recently later this week. Oops!
I’ve been a vegetarian since I was eight years old. Both my parents eat meat, so my eating habits were my own decision. I’ve never slipped up and eaten that need-it-now hamburger or anything. Most people learn about this quickly once we become acquainted. People are always stunned to learn, however, that I have a leather jacket and leather shoes or admire a pair of deer antlers. Those people will probably be surprised about today’s post.
One of my favorite design elements growing up were the sheep skin rugs my parents kept in their family room. They usually were laid out on the sandstone hearth near the fireplace. I loved their texture and warmth. I would often sit on them or just stroke them. They were so soft, yet slightly scratchy. I adored them. When my grandmother passed away, a single sheep skin rug was left in the same pile of items I pulled my good friend Fred and many of my plants out of. For a long time that sheepskin rug has laid by my side of the bed, creating a cozy place for me to put my feet when I finally drag myself out of bed in the mornings. You can see it peeking out in front of the rightstand here.
You may have noticed in this picture from my lamps post last week I added a couple more!
At work, we spec a lot of Design Within Reach consoles and chairs. If you follow me on instagram you may have even seen some shots from an event DWR through for local designers celebrating the opening of their new Berkeley showroom. As a thank you for spec’ing many of their products, DWR sent our office a gift card for $250. As the most junior staff member of the interiors team, I was the last person who deserved the gift card, but I am lucky to have very kind co-workers! Plus, I live closest to DWR. I went in to the showroom in January to see what I could find. Now, DWR is not cheap. In fact, they are kind of crazy expensive. $250 wouldn’t get me any furniture item. But one thing they did have? Sheep skins. Really nice, luxurious sheep skins. I ended up throwing some cash of my own into the mix and getting three new sheepskins for my room. Now wherever I walk, it’s soft and cozy!
It really is like walking on a cloud! I placed the softest shaggiest one on my side of the bed, another on the opposite side, and one at the foot of the bed in front of my trunk. I’m a bit of a sucker of symmetry!
You guys, it is SO FLUFFY!! I love it. LOVE it! They make me want to lay on the ground and read a book. Or just pet them. Actually, I just want to rub my face on them. Is that weird? They are much more fluffy and larger than my hand-me-down rug. I was surprised by how soft they were. It’s really fantastic. I feel like my room is a little viking-esque now, but I’m okay with that. Warriors are always cool in my book. Plus I like helmets. The viking-decor is a quick little update, but it makes my room feel so cozy this winter. I mean, sure, yesterday it was 73 degrees in the Bay Area, but who doesn’t want to snuggle up to some animal fur in that kind of weather? That’s right, you want it! Does anyone else have a sheepskin rug they love? Or any non-Madonna-inspired viking gear?
My goodness, it has been a while. Sorry, my friends! I’ve been having a crazy January! Lots of things going on personally and professionally. I’ve been falling into bed totally exhausted all month long. I have lots of blog posts planned though! Yay! Now I just need to write them… but I will! I will! I promise!
So, do you remember approximately 50 thousand years ago when I made over a nightstand for my friend Hannah? And I showed you all the prep process and never showed the final thing? I promise that I will – I just need to get myself into San Francisco in the daylight to style it and take some pictures… any day now… Anyways, you may recall, that when I found that nightstand I also found some ceramic lamps. They were a hideous brown-purple color, but they had an excellent curvy shape that I knew would look fantastic in a different color.
You may also recall that I already have two perfectly good matching lamps in my room. They are a bright apple green color and are Robert Abbey. Basically, they’re great, but they don’t actually function. They need to be rewired and I just don’t love them enough to get on that. I also think they need to be a different color. But because they’re so nice in the factory finish, I’m having difficulty getting myself to re-do them. I think I will eventually, but right now, I’m happy to tuck them away in the attic. Maybe they’ll have a new life in navy blue in my parent’s family room. Or maybe they’ll live in attics for ten years, because I am a hoarder at heart. 🙂
Once I banished them, it was really time to get a hop on the thrifted lamps though. I got the lamps from where they’d been living (the corner of my bedroom!) and brought them outside to our courtyard to take inventory. They were in pretty awesome shape considering their misfortunate coloring. The finish was still shiny and in good shape, they even worked when I plugged them into the outlet! Working lamps from the thrift store for 10 bucks each?! What is this victorious feeling? Thrift store success! Let me tell you, it’s a real high. 😉
Now that I new these lamps did not even require re-wiring, this make over got super easy. All they needed was a quick coat of paint! We all know how much I love to paint. But what color should they be? My first thought was a nice dark green, since that was my go-to color for my bedroom in the beginning. But then my new bedding incorporates so much of my true life long love: the color red! I was in a bit of a conundrum. I like design conundrums though. I get to sit back and think about things for a little while. So after letting this cook on the back burner of my head for a bit, things became clear. Around this time I was also redoing my bathroom plant stand and then a little while later I stumbled upon my gold sequined pillows; things suddenly became very clear. Am I obsessed? I’m still undecided, but as I’m sure you’ve guessed, I decided to go with the gold again! Time to get cooking! I got out my trusty canvas painter’s cloth and began my prep work.
First I taped off the electrical where the light bulb sits and then the plug itself. Because these were fully functioning lamps, I did NOT want to mess with these bits! Every thing else though? Go for the gold! I even decided to try spraying the brown cord. I figured the worst that could happen is it would flake off and I’d be left with a brown cord again. Since I intended to fully hide the cord, I couldn’t think of a reason to not give it a try.
Once things were taped off, I wiped down the entire lamp with liquid deglosser. I know a lot of people skip this step, but since I already have the liquid deglosser, I figure it can’t hurt. Once I’d checked that off the list it was time for my favorite part: paint!
When I spray paint, I like to look like a deranged college student/clown. I wear my hair up, I wear eye goggles, I wear an intense mask/respirator rated for spray painting. Spray paints still have VOCs. VOCs are terrible for you. It’s important to take safety precautions. This is another reason I always spray paint outside. May the internet forever treasure this photo of me. Also NESCAC represent!
Once I’d donned my safety equipment, I grabbed my favorite primer and went to town.
After the first coat things were looking pretty rough. I always like to show you these in priming progress shots, because spray painting is all about thin coats! It doesn’t happen magically all of a sudden! It definitely takes patience and many coats to get a nice spray paint finish. I could definitely use more patience in this arena!
You can see that everything totally looks crazy town for a minute or two. But, don’t worry! Another coat of primer and they start to look quite dashing! Now, at this point I always start to doubt myself. Do I really want to paint them a different color? White looks so good!! I think white is classic, elegant, just lovely. You know what white isn’t though? Me. White isn’t me. I don’t handle white things well… In fact, I usually destroy white things. You should see the mud stains I have on my formerly white jeans. I just can’t be trusted with white! But I do have an appreciation for all that class! If you look closely though, you can see that the original color peeking out under the priming job. It doesn’t matter, because what comes next is even better.
To no one’s surprise but my own, I grabbed my favorite gold spray paint and had a little fun. The first coat went on and things were back to crazy town, but this was Vegas-crazy-town! Glitz! Glamour! Gold! Okay, I freely admit to being obsessed now… 😀
After two more coats, my lamps looked fantastic! Everything I imagined when I saw them at the thrift store after work that first evening. This is the kind of thing I get excited about people, seeing my projects come to fruition. Even if it does take a century and a half for me to get it done. It’s better than chocolate cake. And I love chocolate cake.
I let the freshly painted lamps air out in the little shed off our house for three or four weeks. Because they were going into my bedroom I wanted them to have plenty of time to off gas. No one wants to smell spray paint when they’re going to sleep at night. Nuh-uh, no way. I am particularly sensitive to smells too. Another reason they sat out there for so long is that I got busy and forgot about them. But shhhh! The off-gassing is a much better (and very real) reason!
Once I brought them indoors I stripped the white lamp shades from my old lamps and plopped them on my new gold ones. Cue the excited squealing! I become about five years old when I am happy. It’s glorious if you enjoy small children. Once I had my lampshades on I placed the new lamps in the center of my nightstands and boy had the view changed. Goodbye apple green.
Okay, maybe it’s a minor change. But whatever. My lamps are gold, people! I think the curvy shape is much more pleasing to the eye and the gold pops against the white shade similar to the gold sequined throw pillows against the white standards. While repetition isn’t a design requirement, it’s usually a good thing. Just like that things were coming together. My nightstands were looking better too. Just in time for me to get new ones… still need to find those!
On the left side of the bed (the unused side of the bed), I keep a picture of my dear friend Hannah and my grandmothers comb, brush, and mirror set. I love having the latter, it’s something I remember seeing every time I walked into her bedroom. Now it’s in mine. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, having little memories of my Oma scattered around my house makes me feel connected to her even though it’s been almost two years since she passed. That woman meant the world to me. And now I’m crying. Pheww. Deep breath and back to design. Since I never use this nightstand, it’s the perfect place to display things.
The other nightstand is a bit more functional. The rightstand usually has a glass of water, an empty tea mug, and receipts laying on it, but I decided to clean up a little for the internet. 🙂 I keep my journal either on top of the night stand or in one of the drawers. I like to write from bed, so it’s good to keep it handy. Writing in it calms me down and it’s a great de-stressor. Which makes this the perfect before bed activity. My plant addiction means I usually have a plant or two stuck somewhere on the nightstand as well. I have plans to go to IKEA later this week, I’ve already told my shopping companion to blindfold me past the garden section. I have literally no will power people! There’s usually a framed picture of my friend Claudia on here too… but it’s run off somewhere. I think it’s having a love affair with one of the pictures in the living room. Gosh, I wish Harry Potter was real. 🙂
You’ll see too that I have a small framed book above my lamp on this side. I’m experimenting with the idea of having these above the lamps… but I’m still not committed. What do you think? Good? Bad? Ugly? There’s so much wall space… matching mirrors would be great, but I don’t want plain ones or more IKEA. The idea of thrifting matching mirrors is a dream only, which leaves me with buying. Since mirrors get pricy quickly, I’d like to find another solution. I’ve been eyeing pinterest to see how others have managed this. No lightbulb moments yet! Unless – I go all out and hang plants from the ceiling in both corners… 😀 I like that idea!
Over all, I’m loving my new lamps. They actually work. Which is mind boggling. I can now get into bed after turning off the overhead lights without running into my trunk, tripping over piles of clothes, and falling on my face. It’s pretty life changing. I mean, I still usually stub my toe, but clumsy can’t be helped. Sometimes these little things make such a big difference though. Convenience is everything. Plus it’s much better reading light. And mood lighting. 😉
Now I still have quite a few things left to do in here, but I’m getting happier and happier about where it’s heading! You can see I finally hung some art in here too. Guess what? It’s more Oma memories. More on that soon! In other news, I want to buy a quilt. My new comforter is still too hot in this room. Dang insulation is doing it’s job too well!
Can’t wait to tell you more about what’s going on in this space! Lots of exciting changes underfoot! Have you painted anything lately? Dealt with the empty space by your bedside table lamps? Give me your advice! How’s your January been? Can you believe it’s already February? How did this happen so quickly?
Hello everyone! Hope everyone has had a wonderful first couple weeks of January! I can’t believe how fast the month has been going. Please excuse my radio silence; I’ve been trying to re-find my footing post-holidays! It’s been a crazy few weeks. Crazy good for the most part. But now — on to the good stuff.
Because my bedroom is on the first floor of the house, people always place their coats and bags in there when we have a party or people over for dinner. I don’t mind at all – in fact, my inner show-off likes to have people parading through that room. Plus it means I really truly have to clean up in there on the reg. Which, for me, is a much needed incentive as I tend to let things (clothes) pile up. By far, what people comment on the most after going into my room is my headboard.
I built my headboard while I was home for the summer during college. I used entirely scrap wood my dad had piled up (maybe this piling is genetic?) in the garage. It was a great way to get rid of some of the left over wood in a fun and useful way. Plus, some of the scrap wood was high quality walnut or cherry. The kind of wood you don’t want to just lie around forever! While I’d seen others use scrap wood to make headboards, most people seemed to be trimming it in, laying it horizontally, or cutting it into the outline of a more traditional headboard. I hadn’t seen anyone really let the mismatched wood take the point of focus. I wanted the scrappiness of the wood to take center stage. I wanted it to be obvious that the wood was collected and different.
I started by going through the wood in my parents’ garage. I wanted pieces that not only differed from each other, but were also different lengths and widths. Most of all, I wanted wood boards that had character, that looked like they’d live an entire life as something else. I found what I could, but when I first started grabbing, I realized many were looking quite similar. You can see here that several boards were about the same length and width. That wouldn’t do!
Once I’d laid out all the planks I needed for my new headboard, I marched several to be cut. Some I wanted shorter, some I wanted to rip two or three inches off to make two boards and break up some of the monotony. The whole dream for this was variation, differences, a story. To do this, I enlisted the help of a table saw… And my father. At the time, he felt I wasn’t to be trusted alone with a table saw. Silly man, I may be ridiculously clumsy, but I’ve never seriously injured myself! At the time though, I appreciated the help. I marked exactly where I wanted each board width ripped and handed those off to him, while I used a chop saw to alter some of the lengths. You can see here, how uneven I wanted these cuts. The boards were not being ripped right down the middle!
Once we’d made all our cuts, the boards showed so much more variation! It was exactly like I’d pictured, everything different, each plank it’s own story. My clear favorite was – and is to this day – the wide grey board with a knot hole missing from it. That was the kind of character I was hoping for! Now it was just time to figure out what order they would rest in. Again, I wanted contrast, short next to long, wide next to skinny. There needed to be some flow as well and I made sure to pay some attention to symmetry. I wanted to make sure the headboard wasn’t tall on one end and short on the other!
Once my boards were all cut and an order had been decided upon, I numbered them all with a pencil and brought them inside. I lined them all up against a straight object (a window seat in this case), and began the process of fastening them all together. There are a variety of ways I could have done this, but the whole idea at the start of the project was to use only things left over from other projects. So I grabbed a two by four and cut it’s length to match the width of my headboard. I did this twice so I ended up with two matching two by fours.
I wish I had more pictures, but I worked on this project so long ago, I didn’t take them with a blog in mind! These pictures were all taken with an old point and shoot camera too, so excuse the graininess! You’ll have to imagine this next part. I laid both of my two by fours horizontally, perpendicular to the planks of scrap wood. One board I placed close to the top and one closer to the bottom. Then I took a bunch of left over drywall screws, got out a drill, and drilled a screw through the two by fours and into the scrap wood over and over and over until each piece of scrap wood was held on by two screws. Once the whole thing was held together, I took my new (and heavy!) headboard back outside onto the sawhorses.
I wanted there to be variation and character in the planks, but this was, first and foremost, a headboard. Which meant it needed to be smooth, without splinters to catch on linens, hair, or my skin! I got out an electric sander and went to town! I evened out the wood board transitions and made sure nothing was left to catch on anything. After I finished this, I missed some of the natural scratches and lines on the boards though. What to do? How to fix this?
If you ever want to beat something up, this is the project for you, my friends. I took out a hammer and some nails and bolts and started going to town. I made little divots by laying the bolts and nails down on the boards and then hammering them. It was actually really fun! I’ve heard you can also use bicycle chains and pretty much anything else you have laying around to give wood some character.
Then, once my boards were nicely beaten up, it was time to stain! Still outside, I took out a can of dark mocha stain left over from another project (aka free!) and gave the entire thing two coats, waiting between coats as directed on the can. After I wiped down the second coat of stain I went back and dripped additional stain on a few places on the headboard. I was hoping to add a bit more personality to the wood in this way as well. The spots of extra stain became much darker and some combined to create organic shapes.
After the stain had dried, cured, and off-gassed outside for several days, I brought inside and leaned it up against my bed. My bed was a birthday gift when I was twelve. At the time, I was completely enamored, but several years later, I was over the cold, silver metal and modern look. It had come from IKEA and had held up well, but just wasn’t my style anymore. I tried to find a picture of it and I did manage to – the picture is just old and showcases my crazy high school bedroom in all it’s holiday finest! Bet you never thought you see something this exciting! Look at that plate holder turned CD rack, the headboard in the center of the room, the extreme mess… so glad I’ve grown up! Haha!
Anyways, the metal headboard? Out! The bed itself? Totally reuseable. In fact, I placed my new scrap wood headboard directly in front of the old metal one and held it in place with eye hooks and twist ties! Now, you can hardly tell the old metal bed lives underneath that gorgeous scrap wood headboard! Plus, my new West Elm bedspread hides all those metal bed legs. Bam! Whole new look! Cost? Absolutely free. Pretty good deal if you ask me!
Have you made a headboard before? Or repurposed scrap wood to make something new and unexpected? It was a fun challenge to make something like this for absolutely nothing!