Ornamental Grasses

•April 11, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Ornamental Grasses.

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Painted Furniture

•April 10, 2013 • 2 Comments

Dining Room Set

Everyone likes painted furniture!…  That is the premise from which I devise this writing.  What might be debatable is the color a piece of furniture is painted, or the style in which it is painted, nevertheless, one is hard-pressed to deny that an old piece of furniture can be livened and freshened up with a coat of paint.

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So painted furniture not only enhances a room with its update, but offers the homeowner a way to save money.  Why buy a new piece of furniture if, for a small fraction of the cost, you can paint a second-hand piece?  I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking you personally might not want the work of painting a piece of furniture, but if you know how easy it is, you might be convinced to do the job yourself.  If not, you can have someone else paint it for you.  I know there are people who do this because I have a friend who paints furniture for others and at a reasonable cost. If you are interested, visit her page at: http://craftyincanada.blogspot.ca.

Black Cabinet

One advantage of painted furniture is that you can go wild with your color choices and not be out of line.  A painted piece begs to be seen, so you don’t have to shy away from bold color here.  This might be your only opportunity to add such drama in a room and get away with it.  This is my take on it.  Yes, I could paint that dresser white and it will look amazing, or that buffet light grey, and be perfectly happy with it.  But, If I choose to, I have the option of going bold and making a statement with my piece, treating it as artwork.  And if I tire of its boldness a couple years down the road, I can repaint it a more neutral color or change to another bold color to co-ordinate with a change in décor.

blue dresser

So how do we begin?  Purchase a good quality paint in the color of your choice.  Although oil-based paint has been the go-to in the past, today’s latex paints work fine, but warrant the need of a light sanding with medium and then fine grit sandpaper, and a good undercoat of primer.  Choose from a matte or semi-gloss finish, or go with gloss for a harder finish and a shinier look.

white dresser

Once your wood is prepared, clean dust away and begin to paint.  Start with a coat of primer.  I use an angled brush to paint into corners, and a foam roller for flat surfaces to get an even finish with no brush strokes showing.  If you prefer to see brush strokes, and some do, cover all surfaces with a brush being careful to brush with the grain.  When the primer is dry, cover with a first coat of paint.  In my experience with latex paint, at least two to three thin finish coats are necessary for proper coverage, allowing each to dry fully before applying the next as well as lightly sanding with fine grit between coats for a smooth finish.

Pink Dresser

To go for a well-worn cottage chic vibe, turn your latex paint into chalk paint by adding plaster of Paris ( 2 parts paint to 5 tbsp. plaster of Paris to 3 tbsp. water) and forgo prepping with sanding and priming.  Add patena to a newly painted piece of furniture by lightly sanding around edges of drawer fronts and table tops to let the original stained wood show through.

An optional step to take once the last coat of a smoothly finished painted surface has thoroughly dried, but necessary if using chalk paint and distressing, is to thinly apply a couple coats of water-based polyacrylic clear gloss finish.  This will offer more durability and enhance the sheen.  Look for a product that guarantees not to yellow or crack over time.

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With any piece of furniture you paint, it is important to continually check corners where excess paint can get caught and then dribble down to ruin your work.  Go over them with a dry brush to catch any drips and smooth them away.  If you are working on a dresser or other cabinet with hardware, remove hardware prior to painting.  To end up with a clean finish line around drawer fronts, tape them off prior to painting, and never paint sliders on which drawers need to run or your drawers will not slide properly.

Red Mirror

If painting a chair with a removable upholstered seat, remove the seat prior to painting and replace once your chair is finished.

Once your project is done, you will be anxious to move it into place and start using it.  A word of caution, do not be too anxious.  It takes time for all the finishes to cure.  Give yourself three to five days before putting your piece to work for you to prevent scrapes and dents as temperature, humidity, and paint thickness all affect drying time.

You are not limited by what furniture you can paint to end up with a masterpiece as long as it is wood,in good condition, and properly prepped and finished. Having said that, there are primers and paints on the market that let you paint over melamine and plastic surfaces as well as long as you follow additional steps in the process. So pick up your paint brush and tackle a chair, dresser, table, bench, console, mirror frame, picture frame, or whatever else your heart desires. Add a pop of vibrant color, or blend your piece into its surroundings. The sky is the limit!

Early Signs of Spring

•April 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Early Signs of Spring.

Decluttering

•April 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I hate to bring up the topic, especially on the heels of the last one… being organized.  I sound like a skipping record..(does anyone still remember that saying?) …but I cannot get the idea out of my head.  I mean, the importance of decluttering in order to run a household more efficiently and effectively.

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By decluttering I am referring to the act of purging unnecessary items from the home which gives better opportunity for necessary items to be stored in an orderly fashion with the result of a more organized lifestyle, saving time, energy, and apparently, by those who have studied the topic more fully, unnecessary stress negatively affecting one’s well-being.  So rather than repeating what I highlighted in my last blog, practical ways to declutter and become more organized, let’s look at decluttering from a different perspective.  Let’s look at the sense of freedom we receive from letting go of things that have stockpiled up and caused us to stagnate when making decisions regarding our environment and lifestyle

No, I am not saying it is easy to part with certain items of clothing or furnishings we have lived with for years, but certainly there can’t be a debate going on inside of us regarding the stacks of newspapers sitting in the hallway, the disorganized pile of outgrown and overworn footwear in the back of the closet, the kitchen drawers full of useless utensils that never get pulled out, but only take up space and make it more difficult to find what we are looking for.  Certainly no one would argue that our reluctance to have guests over because we are self-conscious and feel ashamed about the mess that always seems to accumulate throughout our home is reason enough to take action.

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But, say for instance, that you have an attachment to things that really serve no purpose, other than to remind you of days gone by.  How do you deal with that?  How do you separate your emotions from these things if you truly are set on relinquishing them?  Can you, or do you feel trapped?  How do you conquer the overwhelming sense of being controlled by the things that surround you?

Well, first of all, I think you need to determine in your own mind the benefits of a clutter free environment, the time you will save as well as the space you will gain back when unnecessary items are removed.  You need to be convinced that you do not need these things to be happy.  Maybe you have held onto something because it brings back good memories, or offers a sense of comfort.  Is it worth the space, time, and energy expended toward it?  And finally, you need to recognize that this attachment interferes with your freedom to live each new day to the full, experiencing new things and creating new memories.

Decluttering is your ticket to moving forward.  Examining each object in question, each box, bin, and stashed, piled, or pushed aside possession is necessary in order to distinguish its true value.  Do you really need to keep something you paid a lot of money for years ago or something given to you as a gift that you have no use for now?  Does holding onto it serve you, or is it working against you?

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If you do decide you want to be free, you are well on your way to dealing with the clutter in your home, and therefore in you life.  You can then roll up your sleeves, dive in, and apply helpful techniques to sort through and discard what needs to go.  If, however, you are unable to come to this conclusion, if you are too emotionally and  psychologically dependant on your clutter, sooner or later, it will get the best of you.  If left unaddressed, according to the experts, you will find its affects proving negative on your health, both physically and mentally.  What possible benefit could there be to that?

But, even in this scenario, there is good news.  There is hope.  A professional organizer can walk you through the process of letting go step by step, giving you the tools you need to work with in order to overcome such an attachment. Instead of being overwhelmed by the clutter that surrounds you, you will then be able to conquer it.  You only need to be willing.

No matter how you look at it, or what approach you take, decluttering is an important aspect to a well-organized home, a more stress-free lifestyle, and a healthier you.  Instead of letting clutter be your master, master it, and in so doing, gain back your freedom…… and that is about as good as it gets!

 

 

Being Organized

•April 5, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Being organized takes great effort and of course, time.  I am not a great organizer, but I do have a basic concept of what needs to be done to keep my home decent and in order, at least from a home-decorating perspective.

I do put time and effort into regularly purging my home of excessive items, those that, well, collect dust and do not contribute to my overall scheme.  So purging is high on my list of priorities, but along with that, is identifying ways in which I can more effectively keep things unused hidden and display those that add to the ease of function in the home.

McNab Bed Room Closet

For instance, I continually keep a lookout for furnishings that aid in the battle of the bulge, that is, bulging drawers and cupboards, and my resource of choice for these is the second-hand shop.  This not only warrants inventive use of previously owned furnishings, but adds to the concept of being organized in that I can bring order to my spending… another topic in itself!

But editing furnishings and keeping to a minimum of well-working choices is not all there is to being organized.  House cleaning is also part and parcel, keeping up with household chores in a most effective way.

No, I am not talking about setting unrealistic goals, but having a system that works for you, a rough idea of what it should look like, and how to attain it.  I work from a “To Do” list, and even that is flexible when it comes to less important jobs, and with others, timing is negotiable.  Of course there is a daily routine that cannot be altered, like menu planning, meal preparation, general tidying up, making beds, folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, and emptying the garbage, to name a few, and other chores looked after less frequently, such as cleaning sinks, showers, toilets, and mirrors, changing bed linens, cleaning the refrigerator and oven, and mending clothing, but scheduling in extras is what I am addressing here.

For instance, spring cleaning, falls into a category all its own.  With the advent of warmer weather, there is a stirring in each of us to get at jobs we have been putting off all winter, some that could have been done, and others that could not.  Now is the time to do some intensive evaluating and cleaning of items not on our day-to-day list.  Now is the time to tackle cleaning the windows, airing out the house, taking down the curtains and running them through the wash.  It is at this time that we will most likely consider giving the home a thorough cleaning, getting into nooks and crannies, vacuuming under beds, washing walls and woodwork, cleaning out and organizing drawers and closets, and steam cleaning carpets.  Added to the list is cleaning and re-organizing kitchen cupboards and the pantry, fixing and touching up with paint nics and scratches to walls, woodwork, and furniture.  If our energy is still unrelenting when all this is done, we will then want to better organize the basement and tackle the garage.

Of course with the change of season, without excuse, we will be packing up winter clothing and pulling out and organizing spring wear, and taking those used boots, shoes, and clothing items we are sure we will not wear again to a donation center.

But even during the year, there are unusual circumstances that dictate a closer look at organization.  Take for example Christmas get-togethers and other special occasions.  Their anticipation demands deeper cleaning, a pantry equipped with what is needed for food preparation, extra baking, and special decorating.  If we are expecting overnight guests, beds need to be made up and special touches added to make accommodations welcoming.

Why be organized?… To get done all the chores on our “To Do” list in a most efficient way, so that we have time to enjoy family, friends, and extra curricular activities… 

 

 

Simple Sewing Project

•April 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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The emphasis is on “simple!”  Finally I got around to this simple sewing project which I had intended months ago.  It obviously was not important enough to me to commit myself to it sooner.  I could live without its completion.  However, now that it is done, I am impressed with the results.

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Several months ago I found the most unique and interesting set of chairs at a thrift shop and paid next to nothing for them.  They “go” with the style of my home, which is quite unusual in itself, referred to at one point as being “Futuristic.”  I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that myself, however, it certainly does not fit another descriptive home style category that I know of.

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The décor I chose to enhance the abundance of natural wood in floors, ceiling, and wall panels, included a lot of white and a lean toward modern furnishings.  So when I set eyes on these chairs, I knew I had to have them, that they could be incorporated into my decorating scheme with ease.  The only drawback with them was that their cushions were old and faded and needed to be recovered, and although I found a temporary solution of throwing a Fikati over them to get me through the winter months, the comfort of their seating still needed to be addressed, thus my project.

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The chairs are steel framed, light-weight, and moderately comfortable, and add an unusually airy vibe to my existing décor.  In order to keep the light and airiness of their form, as well as amp up their modern edge, I opted for a clean-lined look.  To cover the seat cushions, I purchased a piece of white vinyl fabric, traced the outline of the cushion onto it leaving enough extra fabric to accommodate its thickness as well as allow for a  5/8 inch seam.  I then sewed two pieces back-to-back leaving an unseamed edge to the back of the cover in which to insert the cushion.  Once that was done, I clipped the seam of the corner edges down to 1/4 inch to facilitate a smooth corner when turning the cushion from inside-out to outside-out…

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Once I inserted the cushion into the open end of the cover, I then folded the edge of this seam inward and top-stitched it closed.

As I mentioned, this was a very simple sewing project.  Although the original cushion had been topstitched with quilted detail, I chose to simplify the look, as well as the project itself by leaving the finished cushion un-quilted.  Instead, and to soften its contours, and make it look like it belonged, I laid it in place on the chair, sat on it, turned it over, then sat on it again, thereby releasing trapped air and causing the cover to conform to the shape of the original cushion.

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Repeating the cutting, sewing, turning, stuffing, and retro-fitting process three more times to outfit the rest of my chairs, ended my project.  Not too overwhelming, and the end result, well, now the chairs seat more comfortably, and they add that quirky touch I was going for in my décor, with or without the Fikati…. So glad I got around to it!

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Hope this blog inspires you to take on a simple, but worthwhile project for your home, maybe one you too, have been putting off for ages.  Once you get to it, you will be glad you did!

 

Container Gardening

•April 3, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Container Gardening.