Wednesday, July 30, 2014

When Travel Schedules Collide

You may have noticed things have been quieter than normal so I figured it was time to give you the REAL deal going on around here.  Alex has been in Germany & France for work and little ol' me has been at home with the doggies for two weeks. Thankfully he's finally home! 
Alex at the Berlin Gate in Germany, riding his bike around Paris, and posing with his bike in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral
You'd think I'd be feeling refreshed after all the "me time" right?  Unfortunately it's been feeling quite the opposite because a travel schedule apocalypse of sorts is upon us!   *dun-DUN-dun*

I only get a few days with Alex and then I will be heading out to New York City followed by Hong Kong, China (Shenzhen), with a last stop in the most exotic of all travel locations- Toledo, Ohio- I hear it's splendid this time of the year (sarcasm font) nothing against Toledo it's just a random part of our business trip :)
Glad my Hello Kitty plane visual came in handy again :)
BUT WAIT, there's more!  Shortly after I return home, Alex will be heading out on another business trip to Europe.   The planning of all this has felt like a huge crazy fiery meteor is about it hit us.... or maybe just me?  KABOOM.

Alex said I was over thinking it all and sent me this visual.  Pretty accurate I suppose, my head does feel like it's about to explode.  Clever boy.

Amidst all this, somewhere in there I also have a BIG birthday on the horizon, maybe tomorrow's horizon already?  Crap.  Well, if you'd like to send an early birthday gift, I'd love to know...

How do you avoid feeling stressed/overwhelmed and keep everything balanced?
Are you an "over thinker" too? How do you deal with extra stress?

Hope you'll stop back for my birthday post (click to see Twenty-Seven, Twenty-Eight, and Twenty-Nine birthday "thankful" lists)!  That is if my head doesn't explode before that :)  Things might be wacky around here for a while!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A DIY Look That Feels Right At Last!

Phew! what a week! Things have been a little crazy around here but I was finally able to make a trip to SR Harris yesterday to get some upholstery fabric for my chair seats!  I had been going back and forth on what I wanted to do with them, but finally made a commitment!  Also, I gotta tell ya- I think I need to stay away from any chair redo/ reupholstery projects in the future because this all feels like déjà vu!  (see past example here) I always get stuck on the fabric selection part and then a simple project takes weeks, so silly! 

Anyway...  They are DONE!!!!  Check out the before & after action! 
I  was inspired by the accent chairs that my friend Katie had in her house along with a few chairs I found at West Elm that had a brown/black thing going on so I settled on doing a dark walnut color for the wood and distressed black faux leather for the seat.  

It was surprisingly easy to find exactly what I wanted in their giant warehouse o' fabric.  There it was right at the top of the stack!  I looked for real leather but it would have been really pricey and let's be real, I change my mind all the time and I'm sure someday I'll be messing with these again :)    The normal price for the fabric was $19.99/yd but with the typical 50% off you get on everything at SR Harris it was just $9.99/yd!  I purchased one and a half yards to cover both seat cushions so only had to spend $14.99, awesome deal right?!
Once I got home I jumped right into action!   I started by tearing off the old fabric from the seat cushions using some pliers to remove the old staples under the seat.  Needle nose pliers would have been better to use for this part but someone used them and I was unable to locate them (ahem, Alex).
After that I grabbed the faux leather fabric & cut out a piece for each cushion.  With the full 1.5 yards of fabric laid out, I placed the cushions in opposite corners of the fabric and cut around them leaving about 4 or 5 inches excess to wrap around to the underside of each seat cushion and staple in place.
Then it was time to grab the staple gun and finish these up!  That's when the unthinkable happened- no staples...
Ugh!  It was Friday night and I knew I had company joining me for dinner so I called it quits for the night and headed to Home Depot this morning to get more staples.  

With my gun reloaded and ready, I wrapped the fabric around the edges and to the back of the seat cushions to staple on place.  Here you sort of have to fold & fuss with it to get the fabric to wrap cleanly around the edges of the seat.
My last step was adding some nickel finish nailhead trim.  It is kind of tedious because you have to add them one by one with a hammer... Boy my fingers and knuckles hurt! 

Once that part was complete I placed each seat back on the chairs, wala! 
Heavens! They look way better right?!  I still don't know what the heck I was thinking with the blue/purple look.  At least now I think I've right my DIY done wrong :)  Next up is just some finishing touches in the sunroom then I'll share the rest of the look! 

What do you think of the new look on the chairs?

Have a wonderful weekend everybody! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Time to Right a DIY Done Wrong

I'm still making decisions when it comes to my sunroom project but one thing I do know for sure is that the DIY redo I put these chairs through was a REAL bad idea because there's no way I can use them in the room as is...

Yep I admit it, I made these poor chairs look pretty fugly with that purple fabric and I should have just left the wood as is.  So stupid, ugh! 

I guess I can't say it was a total mistake though- The one good thing that came out of it was that I learned how to tuft a seat cushion, something I've never done before!  So it's kind of a bummer that I have to tear it all apart but in the end this look just ain't gonna fly anywhere in this house! Time to get to work! 

****   How would YOU redo these chairs DIY style?   ****

What color or wood stain for the chair frame? 
What type of fabric & color for the seat cushion?

More to come on these AND 
the sunroom soon!  See you then! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Darker Side of the Sunroom?!

Time for the last (current) project on my to-do list, the sunroom!  This was one of the three projects I mentioned taking on all at the same time a couple weeks ago.  Now that we have the tree taken care of and the patio set finished, I can focus on wrapping up a new look for our sunroom!

We've changed up the look of this room a couple times already, but I felt like it needed a BIGGER change overall- that change being the paint color.
I started growing really tired of that dusty muted gray/blue color.  I know we loved it when we picked it out about five years ago, but I just felt like I couldn't change much of the decor in that room because of that color.... or maybe I just couldn't decorate with it because I didn't want to?!

Whatever the case, I was ready for something new.... now.  Like, right now.  So, I made the spontaneous decision while Alex was traveling for work to JUST DO IT and used the gallon of leftover navy paint in our basement (same color we used for our kitchen update).  You can really tell it was super spontaneous because of my lack of paint prep :)
Ummmm, yeah.  Never paint a room with your window treatments, rugs, and other random textiles in the room... I consider myself a pro when it comes to painting though so our home goods survived my lack of paint prep at least and I did remove everything for the second coat which I don't have picks of yet :(

I know you might be thinking I'm going too crazy with the whole black/white combo, but I really love the simple, clean, neutral look.  Our sunroom also doesn't really have a lot of wall space, so the use of the dark color is pretty minimal in the end.  I still hope it doesn't end up looking too dark, but here's some of the inspiration I gathered up before whipping out my paint brush...

I'm thinking I need to change up some of the window treatments and get a new rug in there too, but it's a really tricky space when it comes to decorating since there are hallway arches/entryways on two of the walls, large windows and a radiator cover on the third wall, and then the big glass sliding doors covering most of the fourth wall.  Really doesn't leave much space for furniture and it's pretty limiting for wall decor too in those thin spaces.  All that leads me to YOU for some suggestions!

What types of window treatments would you use for the windows and glass doors?

What pieces of accent furniture would you use in those small corners?

Most of all- What would you put on the radiator cover? A way to give it purpose?!

That last one has always been tricky for me but if you have any ideas or suggestions I'd love to know!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fourth of July Fun

Hey everybody, how was your Fourth of July?  

We had a whole-lotta fun hosting a little shindig with some family, friends, and neighbors and I wanted to share some of the DIY decor I put together beforehand but ran out of time to get it posted yesterday.  So although the Fourth is behind us, here's a look at some of the decor along with a few fun pics from our celebration! 

How did you decorate and/or celebrate the Fourth?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Some Serious Stripping... and Refinishing Our Wood Patio Set

I did a lot of stripping during the past three weekends- paint stripping that is!  Any other kind of stripping likely won't be my cup of tea :)  but the project I took on almost a month ago was to remove the paint from our old wood patio set so I could get down to the natural wood then sand it, stain it, and properly reseal it.
I thought it was going to be a one weekend type project (and you'd think I would know better by now) but they never are, or maybe our expectations are just way off all the time?  But it wasn't as simple of a project like I thought it'd be, but I'm so glad to finally get this one checked off the to-do list!

I wish I had better before photos of it, but here's a look at the problem we were dealing with because some idiot thought it was a good idea to paint our wood patio set.  Sadly, I admit that I am the idiot that painted them :(  Alex told me it was a bad idea and he was right.
It didn't take long for the chairs to look weathered, worn, and have the paint just plain chip off all over the place.  We used them that summer (2012) after I painted them and when we got them out last summer I thought they looked terrible so I repainted them, even had to touch them up mid-summer.  So this summer when we got them out of storage and saw the same thing I decided it was time to do the right thing and strip off all the paint so I could stain, seal and protect the wood look.

I kicked off my project using my trusty belt sander along with 50 grit sandpaper....  and that step alone took like six total hours of work over two weekends.  That is the main reason this not-so-little project took so dang long to finish.  That much belt sanding isn't fun at all but it is the easiest way to cleanly remove paint from wood and then the surface is ready to stain and seal.  I have to say though that I think it made my arms a little buffer!? :) 
Couple things to keep in mind if you use a belt sander on wood: 
1. Always go with the grain direction on the wood, if you go perpendicular to the grain your wood surface will be very rough.
2. Keep the sander moving, if you hold it too long in one spot you will dig deeper into the wood and your surface won't be level.
3. Keep the belt sander away from metal hardware, your sandpaper will likely rip off the belt if you run into screws/bolts.  Honestly, it happened a couple times to me on this project, just kind of startles you and then you have to stop and get another sandpaper belt.
4. Use gloves and protective eyewear!  If your sandpaper belt rips, it will likely hit your hand so always good to protect them and for eyewear, I know I don't have official goggles on but sunnies worked for me.  Stinks if you get wood dust in your eyes because it'll stick around and annoy you for a while!

Anyway, I did the best I could getting most of the paint off with the belt sander but in the spots where I couldn't use the belt sander I used Klean Strip Sprayable Stripper to remove the paint.  It worked pretty well, you just spray, let it sit for ten minutes, then scrape or wipe off.  
After all of that paint removal effort, I couldn't get into all the nooks and crannies of the table and chairs and sort of said f*** it.  The natural wood surface was showing for the most part and it already looked worlds better so I was happy with it.  Sometimes you have to just make a call on what you can and can't do in a project and trying to get in between all of those narrow wood pieces wasn't going to happen and I was cool with that.

Done with paint removal, finally time for a new step!  Before I could start staining the wood, I used Mineral Spirits to clean off all the wood dust and other debris from the wood.  After that, I used Minwax PolyShades One-Step Stain and Finish to stain and seal the wood.  It's pretty simple to apply using a paint brush going along the direction of the wood grain.
Click here for more info on Minwax PolyShades One-Step Stain and Finishes
Since Minwax PolyShades is intended for indoor use only, I also used Varathane Spar Urethane since our wood patio set is outside.  Alex asked why I didn't use wood deck type stain instead and I honestly just didn't think of it but that probably would work as well.  Either way I think spraying the Varathane weather and UV protectant whether you use indoor or outdoor stain.
Click here for more info on Varathane Spar Urethane Wood Protectant
After that dried, that was it!  I moved the set back up to our deck so we could sit and enjoy it once again.  I know it isn't 100% perfect but I am sooooo much happier with the look now and I won't have to constantly touch up the paint :)  Glad I got it done in time for another family visit this weekend and for the Fourth of July!
We have Alex's parents in town for a visit this weekend, I hope it doesn't rain so we can sit outside and use it!

One thing I know though, if it does rain all weekend I can imagine they'll be a glorious MOA (Mall of America) trip in our future :)  It is one of the Twin Cities finest tourist attractions after all.  Works for me because I need to make a stop across the street at Ikea for my next project (a new look in our sunroom!).  Hope you'll stop back next week for an update on that too!   Have a great weekend everybody!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Tree Troubles

Alex and I got one project done over the weekend that we have been putting off for a while.  Well  maybe that isn't the right way to say it, I guess we had been in denial and it took us a while to accept the sad obvious truth in front of us- Our poor little post-tornado tree is dead and it's time to cut it down.
Alex and I happily planted this little tree after the 2011 tornado.  It felt really special to us because it was part of the rebuilding following the tornado and was sort of a sign of new beginnings.
See that excited hopeful smile?  Makes me sad seeing it now knowing our tree didn't make it, ugh!
I thought we'd get to watch it grow each year.  Might seem silly, but I am really bummed about it.

Once springtime arrived in Minnesota, I started watering it, watching it, and inspecting it.  Meanwhile, I watched all of the other little trees neighbors planted post tornado start to bloom, ours just sat there all sad and leafless :(  we aren't sure if the harsh winter did it, or if we didn't water it enough in the fall, or if we just planted it in a bad spot.  But it was pretty clear that our little tree wasn't coming back.
Alex had wanted to cut it down for almost a month now, but for a while I kept saying, "but what if it comes back?  Should we wait?"  He let me wait/accept that it was dead and finally cut it down yesterday.

We would like to plant another tree, so if you have suggestions on types (especially ones that will survive the crazy cold Minnesota winters) please let us know!  

We'll probably plant the tree in a different location in our yard, but any other helpful tree tips or ideas would be great!  I hope we have better luck with the next one, we'll see?

Aside from our tree troubles, I finished up our wood patio furniture this weekend too so I'll share that next!  So excited we can finally use it again, be sure to stop back to see it!