Wednesday, December 26, 2012

christmas nutcrackers - before & after

I posted some of my Christmas decorations yesterday, but wanted to add a before and after of those big nutcrackers I had on the credenza in my living room.   I saw them at Joann Fabrics a few weeks ago but they were $140 each.  Uh, I don't think so.  But I happened to be back at Joann a few days before Christmas and all the holiday stuff was on crazy discount, like, 70% off.  I was looking for a big "statement piece" (for lack of a better word) for the space in front of my living room window, and thought that these would be just the right size.  But the color scheme, as you'll see below, was just plain ugly (I'm not a huge fan of the green and red color palette for Christmas).  So I decided to spray paint them white lacquer, which made them super fresh, if I do say so myself!  Here's the before:

And again, here are some after shots!  Much fresher and crisper and more fun, I think!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

merry christmas!

I hosted Christmas Eve at my house for the family last night and, while I was so busy that I didn't get a chance to take pictures of everything set up, I did want to get some photos of everything still looking kind of Christmas-y this morning.  And yes, I did finally sign up for instagram, so I've been a little out of control with it lately.   Not much time to add tons of commentary here today, but just wanted to post some pictures from around the house!   

Those enormous nutcrackers were a hideous green/burgundy when I bought them and I spray painted them white lacquer - will post before/after pics later.  

I DIY'ed that table runner for crazy cheap!  Just a big long piece of gray felt...

...cut with a little chevron at the end.  And look who's there in the foreground?  Mr. You-Know-Who with a Christmas bow on his neck! 

Same shot, this time through instagram filter. 

Cute deer with Christmas holly

Sorry for the dark shot - window is backlighting the whole thing.

My first (fake) tree! 

Christmas bar!  I painted that deer head above (will post before and after of that as well, later on) - a big improvement over the bar I had there before.  More on this change soon!).  

Pretty Christmas coffee table!

A very tired Kevin after all the Christmas celebrating!!!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

guest bathroom, before and after

My new place has a whopping FOUR bathrooms, which is a real treat after coming from a condo that had only one.  Trouble is, though, that I wasn't too crazy about the tile/vanity cabinets/lighting/faucets in all of them when I moved in.  At first I considered having the countertops switched out - they're a dark granite, which isn't really my style - and painting the cabinets, since they were also a dark cherry-tone wood, which to me seemed a little dated.  But after living with them for a few weeks, I decided I could probably make the rooms work with some minor changes.  For example, I did change out the lighting and switched the hardware from what was previously a hideous brushed nickel (why does anyone like brushed nickel?  It's just so horribly ugly) to a shiny chrome, which immediately made things look better.  I was finally able to accept the marble tile in the master bathroom - pictures of that later - but the tile in the second floor guest bathroom was a hideous ceramic beige blah nightmare.  Even worse, the shower had a decorative tile border, which made me want to kill someone.  Case in point:


In order to save money, I opted to have the shower tiles reglazed to bright white, which made things a whole lot better (although the company I used, and which shall remain nameless, ended up charging me more than they originally quoted, so if I had just paid a few hundred bucks more, I probably could have gotten the whole shower retiled.  Ugh.  Lesson learned).  After:

Not as amazing as a newly-tiled stall, but still: enormous improvement.

 Once the shower was white, though, the bathroom floor was even more disgusting, so I decided to take the plunge and get it re-tiled.  Here were my choices - and seeing them against the original floor makes it even more clear how heinous it was:

I ended up settling for the tile all the way on the right: a basket weave carrera marble that I think really worked in the space - it included the bright white of the newly reglazed shower tiles, but also had some dark tones within the marble, which picked up on the dark countertop.  The tile itself was a little pricey for me ($14/square foot), but since the floor space was so small, I decided to splurge.  And here's how it turned out!

After the tiling was finished, I was initially like, 'whoa.  That's a busy floor.'  But I'm getting used to it now and really like it - it's so shiny and clean looking, and I feel like you can never go wrong with a classic basket weave tile in marble.

The question after the floor had been laid was what color to paint the room.  My mom has been helping me paint some of the rooms in my new place and offered to paint this bathroom for me.  So I picked out what I thought would be a sophisticated mustard-y yellow with a green undertone, and put her to work while I was out of the house at a meeting.  And when I came back to find the bathroom halfway done, I was mortified - the yellow was straight up McDonald's arches yellow.  So ugly and bright and wrong.  I felt bad after my mom had done so much work, but I think even she agreed that the yellow was pretty ugly.  I had also initially considered doing the room a nice shade of lavender, but nixed the idea, thinking it would be too close to the mauve-y gray I painted my bedroom, but after the mustard yellow catastrophe, decided to just go for it, and promptly went to Home Depot to get a gallon of what ended up being a really pretty shade of light purple:

And here it is!  I still got my dose of mustard yellow with that tortoise shell I got from the Nate Berkus line at Target right now, and the other stuff hanging up I already had.  Once the painting was all said and done, the countertop and vanity cabinet actually looked really nice, and the granite top is kind of a tortoiseshell finish (black with some mottled browns and grays), so I'm really actually kind of liking the counter now, believe it or not.  I still need to get the faucet switched out, but the light fixture is new, too (I'll look and see if I have a picture of the old fixture - it was terrible).   I think the dark countertop and the wall decor are the right colors to keep the lavender from looking too "sweet" - I didn't want it to come off as juvenile.

Here are a few more images:

The towels are from West Elm, and the jar in the corner is filled with old hotel soaps that my paternal grandfather collected in the '50s and '60s when he went on business trips.  They're so special to me and have a lot of sentimental value and a bathroom seemed like just the right place for them.

More to come soon!

Monday, November 5, 2012

sneakie peekie update

Here's the same shot as my last post, but now with the walls painted the most beautiful shade of Tiffany blue.  I've always wanted a room this color - I think it's so pretty - and my mom and I spent all weekend painting the first floor and the master bedroom.  Right now I'll leave you with just this photo, since the place is still more or less a mess and not photo-ready:

Yes, that is a fire going in the fireplace.  It's super duper cozy in here.

Just bought these awesome brass lamps on eBay for the bedroom.  I think it's going to look preeeeeety nice in there, too.  

Much more in the works!

Friday, November 2, 2012

sneakie peekie

Well, I've moved in and am unpacking my fingers to the bone!  Trying to decide on lots of fun stuff like paint colors and new light fixtures (and also trying not to spend too much dough, blah).  Here's a sneak peek of the new fireplace with a little paint swatch on the side - thinking of painting my living and dining room this pretty light blue!

More to come!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

it has begun

Well, packing has begun.  If all goes according to plan, I'm moving in less than two weeks (*gulp*).  My mom and grandma came over today to help me pack up all my stuff (and by "help," I mean more or less do all the work for me) - and you can see that they've already made a big dent in the living room.  Man, I'm going to use a lot of boxes.  So many books!  But it's hard to give them up.

Kevin is not looking too happy about all the changes. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

cheapie craigslist coffee table + thoughts on kitchen cabinets

I mentioned the super cute coffee table I scored recently on craigslist for a cool $30, and finally got around to taking some pictures of it.  It's in excellent condition and I'm loving the marble top - so pretty!      I'm pretty sure I'm going to put it in my basement, which will hopefully be super cozy.  


Isn't it cool?  Just the right amount of vintage.

I'm also considering what to do about the ugly kitchen cabinets in my new house.  They are cherry and ugly and I want white cabinetry.  At first I thought about just painting the whole kitchen, but after getting some advice from the very friendly Danika Herrick of Gorgeous Shiny Things, I'm reconsidering the idea.  She did a wonderful job with her kitchen re-painting, but it does sound like a tremendous amount of work, which I might not be game for after painting pretty much every other surface in the house.   Plus, I'm a little worried about the cabinets chipping over time.  So I'm thinking about maybe just painting out the cabinet framework itself but then buying new doors.  I have IKEA cabinets in my kitchen right now, and I like them a lot.  Even though it might be kind of lame, I'm thinking about maybe getting the exact same cabinets that I have now, namely, the Lidingö cabinets:

They seem to range in price, depending on size, from between $30 and $60.  I need to get into the house to measure the cabinets, but taking $45 as an average price per cabinet door, I might be looking at dropping something like $1000 on doors.  Ouch.  I'm also not sure if IKEA has the right sized drawer fronts to replace the ones in there now.   I wonder if it will be worth it when I consider the time I'll need to invest to paint everything?  

I also just saw on the Home Depot website that something called cabinet refacing is available.  I'm trying to figure out what exactly it entails, and how much it will cost - but it might be something else to investigate.  

UPDATE: Just called Home Depot and it sounds like cabinet refacing is pretty pricey.  But the lady I spoke with there mentioned a product from Rustoleum that seems like a DIY cabinet refacing kit; the reviews online are mixed, but I've found more positive than negative ones.  Might consider going this route, since I'm worried that just regular paint will chip over time or get weird when I try to clean them, plus, I was dreading having to sand and prime all the cabinets if I just painted them on my own - this kit claims that I won't have to do that.  It sounds like the Rustoleum product is pretty durable and chip resistant, albeit time consuming, but I guess if I just want to spend a few hundred bucks, DIY is the route to go. An unlimited budget would be pretty nice...

Friday, October 5, 2012

why i love craigslist

Because I just scored this super awesome vintage bamboo table for $25.  TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!

Loving those brass drawer pulls!  I have just the spot for this in my new place.  I just bought a really cool marble coffee table for $30, too, but it's still in my car - will post photo of it later.

Monday, October 1, 2012

photos of new kitchen

As I mentioned in my previous post, I really like the look of my kitchen in my current condo, and plan to make the kitchen in my new house look similar, with white cabinets and dark countertops.  In the case of my new place, the current countertops are black granite (which I can definitely work with - the counters in the bathrooms, which are this yucky brown/black granite, however, are a different story).  Since the main level of the new house is all one long room (living room leads into dining area, which leads to the kitchen, off to the side), I plan on painting the entire area a nice light blue-y green (to be specific, Behr's Cool Jazz, which I used to paint the backsides of my dining room bookshelves in my current place - though the color in these bookshelf photos looks a bit washed out; the blue is brighter in real life).  I think that nice light blue will look really pretty against the white kitchen cabinets, black countertops, and brass hardware.  Here are two photos of the current kitchen:

So yes, you can see that there is just way too much cherry going on in here.  Blech.  I need to do some research on how to best paint these cabinets out - the last thing I want is to do all the work of painting and then have them chip.  I know Danika Herrick at Gorgeous Shiny Things did a great job of painting her kitchen cabinets, so maybe I'll muster up the courage and send her a note and ask her how she did hers (talk about a lady with a lot of talent!).  I'm still trying to find some suitable ceiling light fixtures for the kitchen, but I did find some AWESOME brass nautical pendant lights from Home Depot for FIFTEEN DOLLARS EACH (on sale from $50/each) to hang over the breakfast bar thingie.  There is NOTHING like an amazing deal to make me feel happy happy happy.  Aren't they cute?!?!?!?!


I have two of them in my possession, but am just posting a picture from online because they're in the box and I don't feel like opening it up and making a big mess.  

Exciting stuff!

Friday, September 28, 2012

kitchen time

I'm about to go out of town for the weekend, but wanted to quickly post some pics of my kitchen in my current condo before I leave.  I actually really like my kitchen a lot, and it was one of the reasons I bought my place: the previous owners had rehabbed it, and very tastefully, too; I love the cork floors and the marble backsplash.  I think it's an IKEA kitchen, and just for the record, I think IKEA does really great kitchens that are quite durable.  I know IKEA gets a bad rep sometimes for having items of sub-par quality, but I'm still an IKEA fan at heart, even though I wouldn't necessarily furnish my entire home with their stuff.   Here are a couple pictures (again, weirdly distorted; my apologies!):

Pretty cute, right?  The kitchen is a really nice size for a condo kitchen in Chicago.  I've made many a nice meal in here!  

The kitchen in my new place will hopefully look very much the same as this one once I'm done with it; it currently has some pretty lame-o cherry cabinets and black granite countertops; I plan to keep the countertops but paint the cabinets out white and add some brushed brass cabinet pulls (from overstock; photo below).  In my dream world I would also add a subway tile backsplash, but alas, I am going to be broke as a joke when I move into my place, and so that may have to wait for later.  I'll post pictures of the kitchen in the new place soon.  Gotta go pack!