Apr 21, 2014

From Navy to Eggplant - Easy Living Room Update

Is it spring where you are? Going by the calendar it's supposed to be spring here, but the inch of snow we just received contradicts that notion. But regardless of what's going on outside my window, I decided to start on a living room spring makeover. Not a complete overhaul - that's already been done - but just some colour changes to liven it up some.

If you remember, our walls are painted Ranchwood by Benjamin Moore. I love this colour so much. What I'm starting to not love is that it looks green in the living room. No matter the time of day - it's always green. I don't dislike green per se, it's just that I was aiming for a more taupe-y room when I picked it. I accessorized the room with navy and white, but it never felt cohesive to me. I think it's because the artwork on the walls is full of dark reds and yellows (and greens). The paintings were purchased for our last house (where we first had burgundy, then green walls) and we haven't found anything suitable to replace them.

So while I was grocery shopping one day, I wandered into the housewares section and saw these pillows and knew that was the direction to go.

There were also solid-coloured pillows in, what would you say, plum? Eggplant? But what really caught my eye were the fleece throw blankets in the same shade, for $5 each. They were large enough to make two pillow covers each with a little left over.

The couch and loveseat (p.s. we bought new ones and I didn't mention it) each came with two pillows, so I just needed to sew new covers the same size as the current ones. Adding in the four zippers I'd need to buy, that still works out to less than $5 per pillow. I made my own piping using the leftover material and twine - super easy.

Just like that, I had four new pillows. Four cozy, snuggly pillows. I've dragged the dropcloth-covered pillows up from the basement to lighten up the look a bit since then. The pillows now bring out the purplish shades in the paintings above. The one on the right is still a little too red, but I'm working on what to do with that.

I even had enough fabric left over to recover that little footstool I have. This is the one that has already been recovered with dropcloth (see how to do the image transfer here), and then with a dark yellow fabric. I added a piping-like detail across the top - like I did with the storage bench - to keep it from being too plain.

A purple vase and a white ceramic turtle - isn't he cute? - complete the colour switch. I think the room still needs something else - maybe teal, or gold? Or maybe just a lot more white. The windows face north so the room isn't ever really awash in light.

It is awash in dog hair, however, as Chloe is in love with the new pillows. Do you get that too?

Apr 8, 2014

Recovering a Stool in Less Than Ten Minutes

I'm still chipping away at the basement TV room.  After getting the walls and ceiling painted, I'm focusing on layering in the details. We're going for a cottage feel -  an easy, relaxed, put-your-feet-up kind of vibe. Big, slouchy couch, cushy pillows, and soft neutral colours.

In a burst of energy late one night, I decided to recover the coffee table/foot stool to make it a bit brighter and more fun. I bought the stool a few years ago from HomeSense (the Canadian version of HomeGoods), and it came with a boring brown fabric (for some reason I was into brown at the time).

I had planned to accessorize this room in grey, and first recovered the stool in the same grey flannel as the bedroom bench and the storage bench.  And that was fine for a while, but the colour was kind of a drag on a room that was otherwise bright and cheerful.  I purchased some fabric in an aqua print to make pillows for the couch and still had a lot left over. The type of recovering I'm going to show you doesn't require any sewing whatsoever - all you need is a staplegun.

The legs and frame attach to the top with four long bolts underneath. They just needed to be removed and the two pieces came apart. I cut a piece of the new fabric in a square that was large enough to cover the top, sides, and then had about two extra inches all around so that I could fold the edge over and staple it. Having a clean edge looks nicer, and keeps the fabric from fraying later.

Lay out your fabric face down on the floor, place the piece you're recovering upside down on top of it, and bring your first side up and over the bottom of the base. You'll put one staple in the center of each side first to keep your fabric centered and in place. Fold the edge of the fabric over about half an inch or so and staple it securely to the base. Do the same on the opposite side, making sure that you pull the fabric taut and keep it smooth. Then do the other two sides.

Once your four sides are done, you can start working towards the corners. Repeat what you did before, folding over the edge and keeping the fabric taut and smooth. Stop once you're a few inches from the corner.

(I only have a picture of the grey fabric edges.)

There are dozens of different ways you can finish the corners. The easiest is a simple angled fold like you'd do wrapping a present, but I like to do a kind of double fold that meets in the corner. I don't know if I'll be able to describe this accurately, but here goes.

Take a corner of the material and pull it straight up, stapling it down. Then take each of the "flaps" created and tuck the excess material under with a clean fold so that you have a straight line running parallel to the corner. Try and get each edge to be the same length and the same distance from the corner, pull them taut and staple them down.

Repeat on each of the other three corners. And that's it. Flip your padded base back over and admire. The frame is then bolted back on to the base and the stool is ready to go.

Having a padded coffee table is great. It's large enough and sturdy enough to put plates on, but it's also nice to have something cushioned to put your feet up on when watching tv.

I love recovering padded furniture. It only takes a few minutes (if you're doing the no-sew version) and it's like you have a whole new piece of furniture when you're finished.

The room is starting to come together now. We have the throw pillows in coral and blue (with a couple recovered in off-white dropcloth fabric as well), our "Turtle Beach" sign made of pallet boards, and this awesome sea turtle chalk drawing that my aunt gave me for my birthday. The background is navy blue (my favourite colour). Apparently she had to practically wrestle it away from another lady in the store.

On the sofa table - with the awesome built-in electrical outlets - we have two woven lamps that give off a soft glow at night. Over on the bar we have a canoe shelf that my sister gave me for my birthday, and I gave the laundry basket a stripe of blue to match the walls. The laundry chute lets out above the bar, so we keep a basket there to catch the clothes.

The bar still needs shelves hung on the wall. Right now all of the glassware is underneath in boxes. The other side of the room is still a work in progress as well, with dog beds and television cables everywhere. But I like the direction we're headed.

Mar 20, 2014

Bathroom Wall Graffiti

I swear the main bathroom is going to be the room that breaks me. If you remember, I painted it a taupe colour, decided it was too dark, and re-painted it a light blue. I was never that enamoured with the colour - I think I should have gone a shade darker. So now every day I look at it and wish it was different. But the thought of painting it a third time...just no.

Instead, I've decided that rather than re-painting I'm going to decorate around the wall colour. The vanity top is a speckled pattern of mostly navy blue with some green veining. It limits my options a bit, but I think I've found something I like.

I started with a turquoise shower curtain, which is actually a twin-sized flat sheet hemmed to the correct length. Don't worry, there's a shower curtain liner behind it.

I then found some deeper teal towels. Such a rich shade. All of our other towels are white or pale yellow or tan; I think I'd like to start replacing them with more vibrant jewel tones.

The final touch was some "art" to break up the expanse of pale blue above the towel rod. I have several 16"x20" blank canvases that I picked up from the dollar store a long time ago. I pulled one out along with all of my blue, green, and yellow craft paints.

Thank goodness I had a dozen or so little dessert cups from when I made cherry cheesecake and Oreo dirt cake (I'll warn you, if you go look at those pictures you might want to go make some. Like right now. It's okay, I'll wait.) The cups were perfect for mixing paint so that I could have even more colours to work with.

I had so many blues to choose from but not many greens, so the yellow paint came in handy to make my greens. It was surprising what colours I ended up with - that greyish colour is a mix of dark leaf green and yellow. Crazy, right? The turquoise on the far left is my favourite, and an almost perfect match for the towels, so I used it the most.

I just brushed the paint on willy-nilly using the widest artist brushes I could get my hands on.

Once I was happy with the outcome, I painted the edges of the canvas with the turquoise. I'm going to have Tom build a frame for it eventually, but for now I don't want the white edges showing. I also took some silver paint and a tiny brush and just lightly lined the edges of some of the pale blue sections. You can't even notice it unless the light hits it just right.

So, not fine art, but a nice little punch of colour in an otherwise bland room.  What's really funny is that when I went back through my pictures to find one of the vanity, I was reminded that the room was originally turquoise. Maybe I could have saved myself some trouble!


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