As many of you probably know first hand, the inspiration received from other shelter blogs is pretty ridic. Really, you should see the absurd amount of links I file in my Mail’s “Inspiration” folder. This past Monday, I took to my folder, and, well… got inspired. Not having a front stoop to primp and pretty for spring (our building has a maintenance crew that weeds our bitty tree lawn), I turned to our second floor door with mat decor from Restored Style – and even this more involved welcome from ReadyMade.
Here’s the ugly truth. We’ve been welcoming friends and family with the same college-day-doormat that my man’s been using for the last, oh, 8 years or so. Of course we love sporting Queen City pride, but that flimsy, soft mat had to go.
It’s not as if we’d never tried. Have you seen the doormats they stock in the stores? With most averaging around thirty dollars, we were actually happier to sticking with what we had. Too boring, too cheesy, too… ew, really? You bet we were picky.
But back to the whole inspiration thing I was feeling this week. We picked up the Ikea Trampa mat for just nine bucks – an over sized and surprisingly high quality scratchy coir with thick rubber backing. Our tiny door nook was a tight fit for the too-big dimensions, so I cut it down to a more slimming 20 x 30 inches. Tip: For anyone taking on their own cuts, I made my measurements on the non-slip back, then made at least 3 passes with a sharp razor blade. It’s easier (and much safer) to make several lighter cuts, rather than going for a single deep slice.
After running a few design ideas past Scott (he totally didn’t go for my big bunny plan), we agreed on a simple hi / bye theme – a welcome and farewell in one. Using Microsoft Word (although any program that allows you to use text would work), I printed hi and bye using a 400 pt Helvetica font. Because the paper would also act as the stencil, I used a heavy card stock to prevent any curling the paint may cause. From there, I simply cut each letter out with a knife, making sure I stayed within the lines and saving any inside pieces, such as the middle of my b.
A dry fit ensured I was on the right path (easy enough), and I used plain scotch tape to secure my stencils. Any part of the mat that was exposed was covered in old shopping bags, including the tiny edges my stencils didn’t cover. But learn from my mistake – I did all my taping inside, and you better believe that things would have been much easier if I had tackled all the stencil securing outdoors. Carrying my mat to the patio while keeping everything in place was quite the, um, unwanted challenge.
I used a few paint cans to hold everything down (since the wind was certainly not cooperating that day), and misted 3 light coats of on-hand flat black spray paint.
Once everything was good and dry (as in, I impatiently waited a whole 5 minutes to rip off the paper), I was relieved to see mostly clear, even letters. Eee! Over spray was minimal (although the edges are faintly fuzzy – let’s call that “charm”), and as I mentioned before, I’d recommend something sturdier than thin copy paper. I’d say our cover stock worked like a champ, but anything thinner would have been a near disaster (so dramatic!).
Holy heck of an improvement. (And cute, too.) Scott was as excited as any guy would be over a doormat, going so far as to eagerly volunteer and haul away the dingy Bengal. No complaints, and without so much as a last look at his team’s logo.
Not to mention that ol’ tiger never bid us farewell on our way out the door.
And for good measure, a gratuitous photo of our little man. You can’t see it from this angle (check it out above), but he’s staring right at his leash. If the door opens, you bet he’s hoping for a w-a-l-k.
Okay, so we may not have the luxury of stocking up on planters to flank the front door, but we’re really enjoying our own little version of sprucing up our so-called exterior.
What about the rest of you apartment dwellers? Any entry primping tips and tricks to share? How do you make the most of your not-so-outdoor interior exteriors? Woah, tongue-twister.
… Well, kind of. When we moved into this teeny casa of ours over 3 years ago, we went to the book store and picked up a handful of glossies for inspiration. Somewhere between a Chicago Home + Garden and a big, bad Nate Berkus hardcover, we fell in love with the combo of mint and kelly, and we’d been smitten with our punchy walls ever since.
But with the new wall came the chance for change, and although hesitant at first, we decided to say goodbye to the kelly green, Behr’s Chlorophyll, and continue the mint from the rest of the room, Behr’s Winterfresh. We thought we’d be sad. But we’re really sort of happy. And of course we have our foyer to keep my colorful heart content.
Painting the wall meant taking down everything (duh) – so basically half of our bitty living room. We’ve been living with chaos for the better part of a week, which surprisingly didn’t bother us as much as the kiddos. Jack can’t figure out where his shaggy carpet went, and Maddie has tried to lick my roller more than once.
And once again, our office became the stash-all. (From floods to friendly drop-ins, that poor room just can’t catch a break.) It’s really pretty amusing to see Scott squeeze into that little slice of space and work on the computer.
We’re thisclose and I’ll even tell ya that the wall is up! I don’t mean to be a tease, but it was dark upon (partial) completion and the shelves are still bare while the poly cures. And I’m still being a big ol’ weirdo about styling them, so updates on that are in order as well. Cure, poly, cure! Waiting is no fun.
Last weekend, we left Chicago in our Corolla and came home with a Subaru (more on that in a bit) and the long awaited media wall. We spent two days in our friends Ross and Patti’s insane wood shop, dined on the Queen City’s finest pizza (plain cheese LaRosa’s, hooray!), and even squeezed in time with family and friends. It was the good kind of exhausting, and we’re still recovering from thinking so hard – which may explain the weekend recap on a Thursday. Here’s a photo whirlwind of our time in the shop – pizza lunch included – where we used every tool imaginable, many I had never seen in my life – but some Scott pretended to (I kid!). Click on the top photo or any thumbnail for a full slide show (and P.S., check out my sweet glasses):
Of course it’s like us to pack in as many things as we can, and I mean that literally and figuratively. For one, we managed to buy my Vargo-in-laws Subaru wagon, and through miracles known as the tax return and family discounts, we paid in full. This was most definitly not a spur of the moment decision, as we’ve been in need of a big-boy car for years now. Scott’s been researching Subie pimping like mad lately (no insane lift kits – ha!, but surely a better stereo system), and it really is just a better fit for us overall. With Jack in tow, dumpster diving, and frequent hardware trips, the roomier inside made more sense while giving my man an excuse to tote tool bags and boxes with ease. And two, we planned our Cinci trip in such a way that the new car would be our way of transporting a whole wall of storage back to the Windy City.
Holy shmoly; it fit. All 6+ feet of hundred pound MDF and oak, paint bins, and every last accessory, tool, and squeeze bottle of Skyline hot sauce. And with room to spare!
No one believed we’d be able to pack it all in (okay, me included), but we did. This meant driving 2 cars back, but would you believe me if I told you we were so lucky to have sold the ‘Roll dog last night? Not even 2 days on Craigs, and the sweetest lady scooped it up faster than 3 other bargain talkers. Again, holy schmoly.
All the painting, poly-ing, and final touches will be done in our casa, but this includes an insane juggling act of painting the wall, lowering our television mount, and shuffling records, blankets, and sequin bunnies to other rooms during the work in progress. And because we’re being extra cautious with prep and dry times, this could take a week. Or so. We’ll see. And kudos to Ross for being so patient with us; he’s really the brains behind our soon-to-be addition. More to come!
Not every project we take on has those perfect, shiny results we hope for. And in this case, our results were pretty much as opposite as you can get from the original goal, but as luck would have it, we actually think it worked out pretty alright. More importantly, our “client” and friend Penina (whose bedroom you may remember), actually loved the outcome. Because the last thing we want is an oh-no-situation and asking her to pass the bread over take out while feeling mega guilt.
So here’s the short story. She asked me to help her take her lime-colored living room curtains and dye them to the perfect shade of khaki-mustard beige-ish. Having dyed nothing else in my life other than a pair of long johns when I was 10 (what?), I agreed on the premise that she understand I don’t know the first thing in Rit-etiquette. She didn’t either. It was a match made in heaven – if only it was opposite day. Here’s where we started:
I think we were aiming for something between #364 and #52, or at least something remotely close (hint: that didn’t happen):
Now for the long and not-so-short of it. Because the panels were light in value (albeit bright), we nixed the idea of bleaching them first or using any sort of color remover. (Hence, this post’s title). Using the color formula guide on Rit Dye’s website, we figured out the highly mathmetical proportions of taupe to yellow in hopes of getting that not-so-bright mustardy color we were aiming for. Ten minutes later on a smart phone calculator, we figured that for 3 panels, we’d need 12 oz yellow and 6 oz taupe. (FYI, the formulas are different for liquid vs. powder, and the mixtures are diluted with warm water.)
We chose the easiest and most convenient method of dying by using the washing machine and allowing for 3 wash cycles. Another highly calculated move on our part was to use the oven timer, reminding us to turn back the dial on the wash load every 12 minutes. (Again, refer to this post’s title.) Rit recommends at least a 30 minute wash, but our washer didn’t have a timed option, and a regular cycle runs for 12 minutes. Chaos, I tell ya. Thirty-six minutes later, we found this color.
It was certainly yellow. Needless to say, Penina wasn’t thrilled, and we were surprised to see the lack of taupe show through. (Perhaps this is where step one should have been a color remover?) After a lot of what now?, we decided to heck with it. Let’s just go for it. Let’s go bold. If taupe doesn’t show, surely dark brown will. All reason went out the window – which was largely in part due to afternoon cocktails.
Two oven-timed beeps later, we got our brown. Of course there was a ton of girly shrieking (surely coming from me), followed by a what’s done is done sort of mentality. We tossed our three very brown panels in the dryer and crossed our fingers they’d come out lighter.
They dried, we ironed (okay, she ironed and I totally just watched), and we hung ‘em. And you know what? They looked good. The wet, dark panels turned a pretty chocolate-y shade, and the window light brightened them up even more.
While our original intentions were nowhere near the end results, we easily warmed up to the whole ooh-la-la dramatic effect they brought to the room. Penina’s green throw and patterned, colorful rug already add the oomph, and the curtains are now an elegant back drop. And lucky for me, I received a very happy email from my lady a few days later – well after she’d had the time soak up all the moody goodness.
Okay, we know y’all are pretty darn smart, so who out there successfully transformed something with dye? And what was it? Goodness knows my long johns weren’t experience enough, but surprisingly, I learned a thing or two along the way. Or, shall I say, I learned what not to do.