Saturday, July 30, 2011

Feathering Our Nest With Love: Part 4 Wax On!

My patient waiting for the mailman paid off! Check out that incredible finish on our dresser! Late last week I ordered a tin of Briwax Wood Wax from their North American Mid-west Distributor. This English product, endorsed by Her Royal Majesty the Queen of England herself, is made from a blend of real beeswax and carnauba wax. According to the product’s North American website, “Briwax is designed to protect raw wood and can be applied to virtually any existing finish. Use Briwax on all woods, untreated leather, marble, concrete, metal and painted surfaces.” After priming and applying two coats of Pittsburgh Paint Ultra in Aqua Bay, I used fine grit sandpaper to distress the drawers, concentrating on corners and edges that routinely receive typical wear ‘n’ tear.

I then applied a thin coat of Original Briwax in Dark Brown to the dresser drawer, using a soft cloth. You can see the difference between a Briwax-treated drawer and an untreated drawer in the first image. (Click on the image for a larger view) Notice the aged look this gives the drawer and the weathered appearance it invokes. Difficult to believe years and years of weathering and discoloring could happen in less than 5 minutes!

After waxing all four drawers, I added “new” hardware. Both the knobs and drawer pulls were purchased at various Habitat for Humanity Restores throughout the state. The knobs were sold 8 for $1.75 (that’s $0.22 each!) and the drawer pulls were $0.50 each and still in their original packaging! Awesome deals! Awesome way to reduce and reuse and support an amazing cause!

The victim of an over-active imagination, I wanted to add a special touch to the top of our dressers that would retain the casual look of the dressers but update them with a hint of elegance. A broad border in Aqua Bay on the Bamboo painted top of the dresser was the perfect touch! (The above photo was taken before the top was sanded and wax.) This broad border was made using a ruler, a pencil, masking tape, and a fine painter’s brush. The masking tape provided a straight yet feathered edge to my border, perfect for that imperfect hand-painted look.

After sanding and waxing the body of the dresser and installing it in Jay’s closet in our bedroom, the impressive results speak for themselves.

Jay and I were both so impressed at my handiwork that we can’t wait to paint our second dresser and finish our headboard using the same techniques! It will be the first time either of us will have matching bedroom furniture! The days of hand-me-down furniture aren’t gone, they’re just Bri-waxed to a perfect polish! Yay!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Feathering Our Nest with Love: Part 3 a.k.a. Playin' with Power!

As you can see from the above snapshots, we’ve started work on the much anticipated headboard! We picked up as many of our supplies from Habitat for Humanity Restore as possible. That awesome paneled door was a mere 25 cents! Jay gladly used his new toys to cut the door to a size we need (roughly 60 inches for a queen size bed). The door is a standard 36” wide door. We’re using two 4x4’s (5 feet in length) as the legs for our headboard. We splurged a little bit on the shelf portion of our headboard, spending $50 at the Restore. It’s a quality, unfinished piece that would have easily retailed at $175+ if we had purchased it anywhere else.

We’re keeping with the color scheme established by the dressers we’re refinishing. Pittsburgh Paints has a stunning collection of colors that inspired us. The two colors we’ve chosen to complement each other in our new bedroom are Aqua Bay, a greenish-teal inspired by the sea, and Bamboo, a delicate cream with a splash of honeyed green tea color. Both colors appear in their “Serene” Ultimate Style Collection available at Menard’s. In contrast to our dressers, Bamboo will be the primary color of this piece, with the striking Aqua Bay serving as an unexpected pop of color in very calculated places. But first the ever laborious task of priming!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Feathering Our Nest With Love: Part 2 & a Crafty Quick Fix!

We've surged full steam ahead on making over our bedroom! Despite the heat and the handicap of living in small apartment with very limited workspace, we've made quite a bit of progress! Jay is thrilled because he's gotten to use some new power tools we received as wedding gifts and I'm super excited to get a paintbrush back in my hands!

Here's a quick preview of some of our progress:

Removed all the hardware from Jay's tall dresser. Helpful tip: Use duct tape to label the lids of re-used plastic yogurt containers. Store any loose hardware you may need again in these containers. Write the name of the project on the duct (and if you're anything like me, the date too! You might have more than one project going at once!)

Primed all the drawers and the dresser itself with Zinsser. The primer I chose purportedly adheres to painted and finished metal, wood, masonry, etc. without the need for sanding. This snapshot is the top of the dresser after one coat.
After two coats of primer (with thorough drying time), I got to add my first coat of real paint! Our color of choice: Aqua Bay by Pittsburgh Paints. We have an exciting finish to add over top of the Aqua Bay paint, but we're anxiously awaiting it's arrival from the postman! Stay tuned!!!

And as promised, a crafty quick fix perfect for any living space!

Crafty Quick Fix: DIY Privacy Fabric Window Clings

Achieve a comforting sense of privacy while letting in the natural light! This project is perfect for apartment dwellers or anyone looking for an inexpensive and removable solution.

White Cotton Fabric, Scissors, Ruler or Tape Measure, Iron, Plastic storage bin, Spray Starch

Step 1: Assemble supplies (Image A)

Step 2: Measure the width of your selected window. (Image B) Choose how much of the actual window you want to cover. Since our window contains two panes of 27”, we decided to cover the bottom 27 square inches of each pane. This allows unfiltered light through the top portion of the window, while still providing plenty of privacy from the lower portion. (We have blinds we can lower if we ever want to reduce the level of light in the room!)

Step 3: Clean your window with glass cleaner. We like Seventh Generation Free & Clear Glass and Surface Cleaner!

Step 4: Cut your white cotton fabric to the appropriate size to fit your window. Since I need two 27” squares for my window, I’ve resorted to the old origami trick of folding a right triangle to achieve my square! (Image C) Iron out any wrinkles. You want your fabric as wrinkle-free as possible.

Step 5: Using your plastic storage bin to protect your work surfaces, gently begin dousing your fabric with spray starch. (Image D) Use your spray starch as directed, giving the fabric a good soaking.

Step 6: Once your fabric is thoroughly moist with starch, hang on your clean window pane. Beginning at the top, gently smooth out any wrinkles. Continue to spray your fabric with starch to encourage adhesion. Once all of the initial wrinkles have been smoothed out, apply a thorough coat of starch to the entire fabric. (Image E)

Step 7: Repeat steps 4 through 6 for any additional panes you wish to cover. Rinse your hands, wash out your plastic bin, and revel in your privacy! Image F is a snapshot of our window from the outside at night. The left window pane is completed and the right pane jealously awaits it’s turn!

Tomorrow I'll have updates on the progress to our DIY headboard and Jay's quality time with his new toys!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Feathering Our Nest With Love: Part One

Now that my devoted husband and I are settling into married life (2 months & counting!), we thought we'd say ta-ta to our bachelor decor ways. Gone are the days of mismatched furniture, disorganized disarray, feuding color palettes, and living out of the clean clothes baskets. Since our lovely Governor is doing his utmost to foil our plans of moving Northwards, we've decided to plow forward and do whatever we can to make our current (yet temporary) living space truly feel like home to us.

First and foremost for any newly-wedded couple: the bedroom. In a one-bedroom apartment, this space needs to be versatile and well-organized but also serene and tranquil.
We have approximately 13' x 13' to work with. This includes a closet with floor to ceiling sliding doors running along the entire eastern wall. We have an awkward 4' window in the middle of the northern wall, directly above our apartment's sole air conditioning unit. Like most apartments, our walls are painted a hazy off-white. Most of the trim and woodwork, including the monstrous closet doors, are a dark espresso veneer. Visually, here is what we have to work with:

To update our pathetic and paltry bedroom, Jay and I have started scouring the internet, sorting through our fine collection of DIY books, and keeping our eyes open for inspiration. We'd like to re-use and re-purpose whatever we can and supplement what we do have with goodies from Habitat ReStore and thrift stores whenever possible. Visually, here are our initial ideas:

hanks to and Gimp, we've been able to cobble together an inspiration board of sorts. Pottery Barn has an awesome online tool to help you visually map out your room design. We've created the above layout, switching our queen bed from the western wall to the sourthern wall, and adding in some luxury with a unique floor rug. In Gimp, we were able to play around with color and shape to design a working idea. Here's a list of some of the projects/items/ideas we'd like to pursue:
  • Create a headboard out of re-purposed vintage door
  • Find His & Her gooseneck or adjustable wall-mounted reading lamps for bedside
  • Re-configure closets for more efficient use of storage space
  • Re-finish the old dressers Jay has had since he was a kid
  • Enhance the window to allow for natural light yet still provide privacy
  • Disguise the Goliath-size closet doors
  • Provide me with an intimate and inviting workspace
  • Create a serene, tranquil, and stress-free sleeping environment that uses a canopy of sorts to block out the rest of the room for when we just want to "get away from it all"
My plan is to keep y'all posted with daily updates on our progress. Some of these projects are simple Crafty-Quick-Fixes, while other projects may require several days to reach completion. This adventure Jay and I are about to embark upon will be great practice for when we move to a more permanent and North-Eastern-ly location. Blogging about our triumphs and especially our tribulations will help regulate my perfectionism too!

I'm itchin' to get started! Stayed tuned for many updates to come!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Next Chapter: Wifedom

For those of you that haven't heard, I'M MARRIED!!!

We eloped to Austin, Texas and tied the knot on May, 15th, 2011. More details about that in future posts. It's a total DIY wedding and the reception is coming up in July! I'll be posting some fun tutorials and inspiring ideas for all of you future DIY brides!

Also, for those of you that haven't heard, I'm a full-time wife now. I left my position as wedding cake coordinator at a prominent Fox Valley bakery for reasons unrelated to my new title of "wife".

In other news, Jay and I went thrift shopping together as husband and wife for the first time. We stumbled upon a couple of framed vintage prints circa 1911 by Lou Mayer, artist for Puck Magazine. We especially love this one! It's so fitting for us right now! (Click on the photo for a larger view!)
Though things go topsy turvy
And meals they miss a few,
These Newly Wedded Couples
Have other things to do!
I best be off to tackle my massive to-do list for this incredible wedding reception we're planning! There is just owlways something more to do! Ta-ta!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Strawberry Hazelnut Splendor

Just in time for summer picnics and Fourth of July parties! I've doctored the Raspberry Delights recipe from Taste of Home's "Best Summer Desserts 2010" magazine and created a heartier, healthier dessert using whole wheat flour, egg whites and organic strawberry preserve. I've also made the addition of our favorite cream cheese frosting as a rich, flavorful swirl on top.

Variations on this recipe abound! Try any of your favorite fruit preserves or homemade jams for a delicious spin. Combine two or more fruits like strawberry and raspberry for a berry-tastic treat! Experiment with your families favorite nut flavors. Hickory nuts, walnuts, almonds, even sans nuts could all enhance the flavor of this cookie bar! I know I'll be trying a butter streusel topping sprinkled over the next Strawberry Hazelnut Splendor I make for my family!

Strawberry Hazelnut Splendor

1 c Butter, softened
1 c Sugar
2 Eggs, egg-whites only
1/2 c Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 c All Purpose Flour
1 c chopped Hazelnuts
1 c organic Strawberry Preserve

1. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg whites. Gradually add flours and mix well. Stir in nuts until thoroughly blended.

2. Spread half of the batter into a lightly greased 13x9 baking pan. (Note: Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty! Spreading with your fingers may work easier than with a spatula.) Spread strawberry preserve over the entire surface of the pan. Drop remaining dough over strawberries in small dollops, in a random, haphazard way. Leave random spots of strawberry preserve exposed.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let cool. Drizzle with your favorite icing or leave plain. Cut into bars and serve up the splendor!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Crafty Quick Fix: Picture-Perfect Chalkboard

I'm one of those overly-organized people who write everything down lest she forgets. Post-it notes, To-do lists, and magazine clippings can be found all over the house, in my purse, on my fridge, all over my desk... Sometimes those little reminders just aren't enough. They get buried or get lost and you're stuck at the grocery store trying to remember those three silly items you came there to get! This Picture-Perfect Chalkboard helps remedy those pesky situations. Now that quick grocery list stares you in the face every time you walk by this beautiful work of art. It also works as a functional yet funky Family Message Board. Jot a love note to your sweetie, or remind him to take out the trash!



lways on the lookout for ways to re-use thrift store finds, I crafted this simple project out of a $2 frame. After removing the glass, I stripped the varnished and stained wood with this helpful new product I found: Citristrip. According to the manufacturer, this stripping product is safer to use and better for the environment because it lacks the harsh chemicals other strippers depend on. I also personally recommend Citristrip because it's gel form makes simple work out of stripping and provides excellent coverage on raised surfaces like the beveled frame I re-purposed. After two coats of "Aladdin's Wish" paint from Hardware Hank, and a quick coat of chalkboard spray paint from Krylon on a piece of paneling cut to the size of the frame, you're all set to assemble a fabulous new place to jot down your daily reminders!

P.S. Check out my collection of adorable Owl trivets! I just love that vintage charm!