Summer Recap 2014 : Part 1 the Kitchen

Since I have so many house updates to share I thought I’d break this out into sections to make it easier to digest.

True story, I originally labeled these posts “Summer Recap 2015″ because that’s how tired I am after this summer.

I’m currently up to 4 posts but just might reach 5.  You might want to make yourself a cup of coffee.

In fact, I’m starting today in the kitchen which you probably remember like this:

2011_08_24 (11)While I love the red, red wine, after painting the living room Dolphin Fin gray I was ready for a change. Here’s what the kitchen looks like now:

2014-08-24 (14)One day I might repaint the kitchen cabinets but they’re holding up pretty well.

I started by cleaning off the counter tops and priming over the dark red.

Oh. My. God. I forgot how much I hate painting this room. It was the first one I did back upon closing in 2008 (because it was a god awful pinkish red) and I’d completely forgotten how these corners were so obnoxious.

Trying to take down the brackets? Horrible.

photo 2(1)Just horrible.

photo 1(2) I patched all the holes and wanted to start by caulking all the seams. Thankfully after priming the south wall the ants found a plant I re-potted (dear ants, that was not for you…) and were able to trace them back to their entry point. And then caulked the entire window including the hole. That combined with another layer of ant poison outside eliminated 90% of the problem.

Choosing the paint color was the most difficult piece but I already had a great color in the living room. When I was choosing that paint, I had a few other samples – one which ended up on the door to the garage.

2014 - dining room finalIt’s a custom color match from Sherwin Williams but I got a quart in eggshell from Behr. Here’s the first coat:

photo 3and final coat:

2014-08-24 (08)After getting the first coat on well, I touched up the edges and remembered again how much I hate this room.

There are no pictures of me working so let me paint one: it was August, 90 degrees with 50% humidity and I was balancing precariously on the counter top to reach into the corners.

Oh, and in full view of everyone coming and going because the shades were removed.

After the paint dried I reinstalled all the plate covers and shades. The brackets for the mini blinds stayed down though because I am designing a solution that you’re going to love.

Another view:

2014-08-24 (02)Here’s that horrible corner.

2014-08-24 (07)The plants on the top of the fridge are getting plenty of light and are easier to remember to water:

2014-08-24 (15)plus I finally have my Keurig hooked back up for morning coffee.

2014-08-24 (12)And while I need to pick up some supplies so I can get the windows covered, I’m glad that paint job is done. Except behind the fridge. At some point I’ll pull it out and paint behind but that can wait.

In the next edition of “what Kelly did this summer” I’ll share the other room I painted.

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August Updates

I read a post from another blogger recently that started with promising not to apologize for the length of time since the last post.

I like that.

Mostly because life has been moving like a bullet train this summer.

While I’m hoping to have a detailed, photo-heavy post for you around Labor Day here are some of the changes, big and small, happening around the casa.

California is a in a super drought. Like, no rainfall and yikes we’re running out of water drought. So predictably my lawn is drying up and even the flower bed out front is looking a bit pathetic.

This year I opted to skip the big flower bonanza that I usually fall into for that reason. While I’d like to get the replacement flower bed out front done before fall I’m not going to hold out hope.

Yet, the flowers behind the gate are thriving on active neglect and miniscule amounts of water.

Specifically the lantana which are taking over and going vertical (I’m shopping for some lattice now…) and a volunteer plant which took me a month to identify. Turns out I have a cantaloupe magically growing and 3 large melons almost ready to be harvested.

The guest room has a completely new look and I’ve moved around some furniture so you can enjoy the view of the backyard again (previously the bed blocked the window almost entirely). I have some furniture arriving soon to finish off this space and need to do some artwork on the wall but it’s looking really nice and I can’t wait to show it to you.

Also getting a makeover this summer is the kitchen, mostly due to the never ending ants that just won’t leave us alone. I’m working to seal up all their entry spots and remove anything that they want to eat which means the dining table is pretty full of stuff from the kitchen counters as I clean.

The ants also found my cough drops in the medicine boxes and I did a complete organization.

Adding to the chaos this month, the outdoor side by side fridge/freezer went out so I emptied it, cleaned out a bunch of bad food and gave it to someone who could recycle the parts. With that gone I had a bunch of shuffling to do in the garage and it looks so very different. I have so much room, in fact, the car is now parked inside which is heavenly on those hot summer afternoons when I need to run errands and the interior is no longer hotter than asphalt.

Of course I continue through it all to declutter, another 4 bags are going to Goodwill this week and I’ll soon make a pass through all the glass bottles and small containers I have outdoors. It’s constantly back and forth because while I am actively downsizing so are my parents so I’m also getting boxes of stuff from their house to decide how to store, donate or use.

So all of those updates and more are coming soon!

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Paint, paint and more paint

Looking over my home page recently I realized that I’d done a few paint projects and never updated the blog.

First up is the hallway which got a fresh coat of paint right after I finished turning the living room dolphin fin gray. The living room was the biggest transformation, going from a muddy light brown to pale, neutral gray.

DSC_0036The hallway flows from the entryway down to all 3 bedrooms, hall closet and main bathroom so it got the same Behr dolphin fin as the living room:

2014-07-05 (08)Getting around all those door frames was a challenge (6 total) and it highlighted that I need to do another coat of white on the frames and doors. Someday.

2014-07-05 (06)While I was painting the hallway I took out the old doorbell chime, which was broken and an eyesore.

Since I haven’t had time to replace it with a wireless model just yet I picked up a solid face plate and painted it gray to match. See if you can spot it:

2014-07-05 (05)It’s not as exciting as Where’s Waldo but here’s the clue:

2014-07-006Nice right?

I haven’t brought in too many picture frames just yet – I’m just working on narrowing down the collection. Currently all of those extra frames are in the hall closet which many months ago looked like this:

2011_08_13 (41)Classy.

So I painted it with some leftover oops paint in blue:

IMG_0776One more shot:

IMG_0777I also grabbed the spotlights that had been installed in my master bedroom and added them here, including an extension cord to the master bedroom outlet.

The top shelf used to hold the cleaning supplies and medicines but since we needed access to the crawl space for the light install I’ve kept it empty for now.

Additionally this year, the office got repainted and I detailed that in this post

DSC_0364As well as the living room walls in this post and the fireplace in this one.

DSC_0350You might be able to tell I’m going much lighter with my paint choices as I continue to downsize and organize the house.

What room do you think I’ll be painting next: guest room, master bedroom, kitchen or bathrooms?

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Project Overload

It can be really depressing to me to read other DIY and decor blogs.

For one, they almost all have seemingly unlimited time and energy and money to make over their huge homes and sprawling gardens.


Instead of getting cranky comparing progress, I just refocus on what I’m working on and what’s next.

Because although I work way more hours than normal in my business and have a teeny tiny budget for remodeling and decor, I’d still like to get some things done this decade.

Such as…

Finishing the velvet chairs – probably highest on my “let’s get this done” list right now, except finding the Paint Medium has been challenging. So I keep working on it one bottle at a time and I’m happy that the first chair is 80% done. Need to work a little more on the cushion (those edges are a pain to paint) and hopefully this one can be done before August. Especially since I’ve stolen the slip covered chair from the living room.

DSC_0303Sanding and painting outdoor tables – these were given to me by my parents and have yet to be finished. They go with the Adirondack chairs in the backyard so I might paint them the same blue… or stain them… or go white… you see what the problem is. Indecision. Oh and sanding the red stain turns my skin a nice red and when I sneeze it looks like blood. Nasty work. While the sander is out…

Sand and refinish the kitchen table

This has sadly become a necessity over the past few years. When I bought my kitchen table there was on side with deep gouges that I’ve sanded, patched with wood filler and sanded again. But it looks horrible (that side is always up against the wall) and there’s stains on the top from glue which don’t wash off.

So… that’s going to be fun.

Then, sand and refinish the foot chest

This was a piece of furniture I got years ago from my parents and Wilson, then a wee pup, nibbled on. It needs to be stripped down, sanded well and repainted, preferably white.

There’s really nothing standing in the way of doing it… just the will to drag it to the garage and work out there in 100 degree weather. Maybe I’ll work on that in the fall when things cool down a bit. Here’s a very old pic of it in the living room (pre-paint and fireplace makeover):

2012_11_24 (17)Attempt to plank the wall at the end of the hallway

Why? Because the texture on that section is all messed up and I think white planks would look really good. It’s a short space so I’m willing to give it a try.

What’s stopping me? Well, I don’t own a nail gun for one, and I need to price the planks and find out how much this will cost me. I want it to look like this:

WhitePlankWallOutside, yank down those gutters and put up new ones

I’m pretty sure one of these days I’m just going to go postal and pull down the gutters. Someday soon. They’re horrid and I can’t wait to get new ones in place. If I had some assistance my first task would be measuring the runs and pricing all my material since I’m going to be re-routing those down spouts into water barrels.

Major hold up: help installing and cash. They’re not going to be cheap and every summer I promise to get them replaced before Winter.

Paint the exterior

One of the things I loved about the house (way back when I bought it) was that it matched the other half-plex so it didn’t look mis-matched. Well, they went and painted a few years ago and now I’m looking forward to painting my side to match.

However, it would take a helleva lot of time on a ladder and I don’t even want to think about how much that much paint is going to cost. Would it be tacky to go one section at a time? I hope not…

2011_07_30 (03)Plant a tree

As you can see in the old pic above, I used to have a tree in the front yard. It died and was yanked but now I have just one – the sugar maple by the kitchen that’s already messing up my walkway with its growing roots.

So I’d like to plant two crepe myrtle trees in the front yard, just enough to shade the driveway in the morning and close enough together for a hammock if I were so inclined.

Now if only I had the tools to dig the holes and a truck to bring home a few saplings… this would be higher up on the list.

Finally, and most expensively, replace my windows

I only have 7 windows + the sliding glass door in the whole house. That’s it. And 3 of them are in the kitchen. So it won’t be too bad to replace these old fellas to new and energy friendly ones but it’s still expensive. As I replace them though, I’d like to get natural shades or wood blinds. The faux roman shades I made awhile back and nice for now but I would really like some classy looking ones.

Especially in the office because when the sun rises it is blinding!

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Covering Chairs

This month has been a little like chair revitalization month.

I got these 2 red chairs from my aunt and they were in pretty rough shape – an unimaginable number of scratches (from cats), deep creases and the fake leather was flaking all over the place.

Reupholster Chair (2)They’re pretty comfortable though and since the fabric didn’t lend well to bad smells and stains they still worked pretty well.

One fit in the newly painted master bedroom next to the dresser:

DSC_0090and it was a great place to fold clothes (until I moved the furniture around).

Recently these chairs have been in the office but once again migrated all over the room depending on the furniture arrangement:

2013_02_15 (03)At the desk:

Office 2013_12_10 (01)And occasionally together like a little chaise:

2014_02_08 (04)I covered them with blankets to keep the flaking under control but it was a losing battle. So I yanked them out and came up with a plan.

The best solution I could come up with was a new chair cover instead of re-upholstering them and removing the original material. I wanted to keep it simple and something I could use in multiple rooms since these are the roaming chairs. I chose a neutral canvas by the way of a paint drop cloth. I picked these up years and and am just now starting this project.

While watching Amazon streaming video one night I unfolded the canvas and begin to pin it around the chair so I could cut a few pieces.

I found out that straight pins went in pretty smoothly (if angled correctly) to secure the canvas to the chair and that allowed me to position and cut the fabric to size without tearing apart the original chair fabric or having a template.

Each chair had 2 pieces, one up and over the back and a second down the seat and around the front/sides.

Once I had the pieces cut I started pinning the seams in place:

Reupholster Chair (1)The back piece had 2 seams going up the back and were pinned in place. The bottom piece had 2 seams along the front and then I attached the two sections together.

The most tricky part was the piece that tucked into the crease. I had to cut the sides so it would fit smoothly (it’s not perfect but I really don’t care as long as the job is done):

DSC_0371As I pinned I kept the legs on but then needed to remove them in order to get the fit tight enough. Removing them was harder than expected. Each of the 4 legs was secured with  long screws so I used the electric drill to take out the screws. A few were particularly stubborn so I pulled out the tool box and used various wrenches to unscrew it from the frame.

When it came time to sew I remembered that I have zero faith in my abilities with the machine so Ana came over to visit and I conned her into helping me sew some straight lines.

Once all the pieces were sewn together I flipped them over and tested them on the chair. Perfect fit! Seams were then trimmed to remove the extra fabric. I chose not to sew a seam along the bottom of the chair because the longer fabric was easier to tuck under and staple to the frame.

DSC_0378I considered sanding and painting the feet but in the end I was anxious to get the project finished and really liked the contrast:

DSC_0375Each chair had a piece of black fabric attached by velcro to the bottom but with the new covers most of that velcro wasn’t accessible so I left it off for now.

Here’s the finished chair in the living room:

DSC_0370And chair #2 in the office:

DSC_0373While the red fabric was fun I’m really loving these new neutrals with the fresh paint going into the house.

For those interested, the slip cover was huge and fit both chairs with room to spare! I’m using some of the remnants for pillows that I’m going to stamp and decorate before stuffing. The drop cloth came from Big Lots and was 9′ x 12′ before I hacked it up. According to the sticker I paid $15 so that means the cost for each chair was $7.50. Not too shabby for chairs that were free to begin with.

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New Pin Board

When I first made over this pin board I made a few mistakes.

#1 I didn’t fully sand the frame which was plastic and cracked. So it didn’t take the spray paint well. #2 I trimmed the fabric to fit just within the frame which scratched up the white paint. Annoying.

photo 1(2) photo 2(2)So this time around I chose a fabric that would cover the cork and frame entirely.

First up I did the worst piece, ironing the fabric so it would lay flat.  I had these 3 to choose from but I really liked the one on the far left (and Tressa agreed!) DSC_0349Oh and I checked the fabric and it was just light enough that the other pattern was showing through. I grabbed the ceiling paint and a throw away sponge brush from the garage and did a thin layer to make it (mostly) white before starting. It was so hot here it took 5 minutes to dry!

DSC_0355Then I centered the fabric and added a staple so it wouldn’t shift around. Flipping it over I began to pour on the mod podge, spreading it out thinly with another sponge brush.

Sorry, no pics, I was working fast to keep it centered and to secure the fabric before the glue dried up. I moved across the board in sections, smoothing the fabric in place and when I got to the other end I started adding the decorative nail trim:

DSC_0357I didn’t go nuts by spacing them out perfectly, it’s really just to secure the fabric so it wouldn’t tent out.

photo 3(2)With the nails in place I flipped the piece over and added a bunch of staples, most of which needed to be hammered in all the way:

DSC_0356Finally I trimmed the fabric piece and let everything dry for awhile before hanging it in the office:

DSC_0360And of course filling it with notes, reminders and fun things (with a slightly more realistic wall paint hue):

photo(4)I picked this remnant up for $4 months ago with no idea where it would end up but I absolutely love it here! I paid $5 for 3 packs of nail trim (1.99 each pack and I had a 40% off coupon for one of them) so the total makeover cost is under $10 since I already owned the mod podge and nail gun. Not bad!

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Mirror Makeover

As I’m working on painting and improving the living room my goal is to re-use or repurpose as much as I can. This is the story of the mirror.

I have a variety of mirrors in my home – such as this one in the master bedroom,

DSC_0165this one in the guest room,

2012_02_24 (11)and this new one in the entry way.

photo(2)The main bathroom has a trio of mirrors:

2011_11_23 (18)And the master bath has this large piece:

2011_05_30 (07)But one of my favorites is this one over the fireplace that I got from my Grandma when she moved to assisted living. It’s not an heirloom piece by any means and the frame is plastic. Here’s what the mirror (and living room) used to look like:
2012_11_24 (08)I’m pretty sure the mirror came from TJ Maxx.

Either way, I wasn’t going to cry over painting it, especially since the brown/bronze thing wasn’t matching the new lighter living room and fireplace.

It came down when I was working on the ceiling and then through painting the walls. Eventually I moved the whole mirror to the table and laid it atop of drop cloth, propped up on Styrofoam leftover from the lights I installed here.

First up I cleaned the mirror and frame:

IMG_0701then I taped off the glass with newspaper, lining the edge with green painter’s tape. First up was a matte gray to cover the brown:

IMG_0705It took several thin coats to get into all those grooves but when I was done it looked a little dull so I spiced it up with some metallic silver:

IMG_0707I just kept going over the frame in small batches, letting the thin layers dry in between, until it got to the sheen I wanted. Then I took off the newspaper and rehung it on the wall and it was perfect!

Which is of course a lie…

IMG_0718When I hung it up (above) the finish was bugging me. I kept finding places where the finish wasn’t uniform. Also, doesn’t it look like Ironman is judging it? I think so.

So it came off the wall again and this time just using the metallic silver I touched it up again:


ta da! so much better, don’t you think?

If I recall the cans of spray paint were $4-6/each so let’s average it at $10 for this mirror makeover.

And I might be the only one who does this but I know the price of every mirror in the house. Weird, right? From cheapest to most expensive we have the guest room = $3, fireplace $10, entryway $17, master bedroom $20, master bath $27 and 3 in the main bath $60.

$137 total dollars (over 5.5 years) is not bad at all for a house full of mirrors, none of which are builder grade. The slabs that used to be up in the bathrooms were given away on Freecycle and the old entry way mirror from Ikea is for sale.

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