Sunday, 26 June 2011

New Stuff

I've picked up a couple of pretty little things over the past few weeks.

First, I used some of my birthday money to buy a mirrored bird tray from Urban Outfitters, which is now hosting a trio of vases in my bedroom:
Then, when we were in Santa Barbara last week, I found a carved wood tray and a carved wood box at an Indian stall on the side of the road:
Aren't they pretty?

Oh, and while I was looking to see if that first tray was still available online (it wasn't, sadly), I discovered that Urban Outfitters has started doing King size bedding. Do you know how exciting this is?! They still don't have my favorite (this one), but they do have these pretty ones in King now.
Painted Medallions Duvet CoverWaterfall Ruffle Duvet Cover Corner Ruffle Duvet CoverFloral Medallion Duvet Cover
Go check out the rest here. :)

Friday, 24 June 2011

Chalk Board Frame

I still haven't gotten round to painting S's room. Or the bookcase. Neither have I finished beautifying my binders. Want to know why (apart from going on vacation)? Because I found this - the Ung Drill frame - at Ikea, and all my other projects went out the window.
UNG DRILL Frame black Width: 23 ¼ " Height: 33 ½ " Picture, width: 15 ¾ " Picture, height: 19 ¾ "  Width: 59 cm Height: 85 cm Picture, width: 40 cm Picture, height: 50 cm
I marveled at it's beauty for a second and then I realized I simply had to buy it and turn it into a chalk board. Obviously.
The black plastic wasn't doing it for me, so I pulled out my Zinsser Bullseye 123 Primer. It claims it can be used on any surface without sanding, and I've had a tub sitting in the cupboard for months waiting to be used on the bookcase.

After I'd coated it, I wasn't convinced. It looked streaky and freaky.
I do wonder whether it did that because I was painting in 95°f/35°C) heat (it's recommended not to paint above 90°), but when I googled for images of other things primed with Zinsser and found one that looked similarly streaky, I let it dry and then started on the paint.
It took two coats of Benjamin Moore's Tranquil Blue to cover all those fiddly bits, but the paint stayed put - Zinsser works!

I have to add here that I used a cheap-o $2 brush for the primer, thinking that with all the dabbing necessary to get in all the crevices, it might wreck my lovely Purdy brush. It so wasn't worth it. I used my Purdy for the paint (which took twice as much dabbing), and look at the difference after all that:
Cheap-o brush was destroyed and went straight in the bin. Purdy has been with me for two years and is still going strong - best $16 I ever spent (on a brush).

Oh, by the way, this whole process would have been infinitely quicker with spray paint. But I live in an apartment and there isn't really anywhere to spray paint here, so I did what I had to do. The whole painting part probably took about two and a half hours total (for three coats).

Then came the fun part. I have been itching to give the metallic wax finishes by Rub & Buff a go for yonks. I couldn't decide which colour I wanted, so I threw caution to the wind and bought all of them.
My initial thought was to use gold, but then I saw the pewter and went for that instead. I tried using a cloth to apply it, but it was easier to just use my finger. Once I'd spread it over all the pretty details, it was looking pretty good...
...But when I stood back, it didn't feel finished...
Since I had the option, I decided to go back to Plan A and use gold to accent the Pewter. I tried Gold Leaf first, but it was a bit too yellow, then I settled on Grecian Gold. I didn't use much - just a little to highlight certain areas.
Where it felt a bit washed out with just the Pewter, the Grecian Gold gave it more depth and looked better from a distance. I love it.
That was the frame done. Yay. Next, I gave the glass insert a couple of coats of Rustoleum Chalk Board Paint using a weeny roller (waiting four hours in between). You can buy chalk board paint in lots of colours but I went with basic black.
I reassembled it, covered the chalk board completely in a light dusting of chalk to activate the surface (as per the instructions), and my new chalk board was good to go.
It's currently sitting in the kitchen, but I'm not convinced it really works in there. It might end up above our desk when we move our office. Anyhoo, such decisions can wait.

One more time - before...
And after...

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

How to Decorate Without Paint - UK Edition

A couple of my readers have asked whether the products I talked about in my original version of this post are available in the UK. On that note, here is a Brit version of How To Decorate Without Paint!

Temporary Wallpaper
Sadly, Tempaper (makers of fabulously removable temporary wallpaper) doesn't sell in the UK. Still, you might consider using normal wallpaper with temporary adhesion, like Winston's Roost did here - this gorgeous wallpaper is attached to the wall with thumb tacks and the edges are held down with blue tack.

Make Your Own "Wallpaper" with Washi Tape
Washi tape is basically pretty masking tape. Jenny from Little Green Notebook used aqua washi tape to create a diamond pattern in her entryway and totally transformed the space. Genius!

From here

Check Paper MashFox & Star or Paperchase for cute washi tapes in the UK.

A slight less renter-friendly option is to use ribbon and thumbtacks like Rita from Design Megillah did. You might be left with a lot of patching to do when you leave, but it sure is pretty!

From here

Use Sticky Back Plastic (aka Contact Paper)
If you have plaster walls (this method isn't so great on drywall - it can be hard to remove), sticky back plastic can provide an inexpensive starting point for more interesting walls. Stephanie at Sabbe Interior Design used white contact paper to create a chevron pattern in her rental.

Sabbe Interior Design
If you'd rather not stick it on the walls, you can always use it to cover the back of a bookshelf or a china cabinet, like Jesyka at Visual Vocabulary did here:
You can buy decorative sticky back plastic at places like B&Q, Homebase and Hobbycraft. I especially love this sticky back hessian - so pretty.

Wall Decals
If you have drywall in your place, or you aren't interested in making your own decals, ready-made decals can be an equally affordable option, especially in kids' spaces.
Triangle Decals - Not on the High Street
Not On The Highstreet and Etsy are good places to look for wall stickers.

Jazz Up A Kitchen or Bathroom with Tile Stickers
Got a boring back splash? Give it a custom look with tile tattoos.
Tile Stickers - Etsy

Starched Fabric Walls
Another alternative to wallpaper - take enough fabric to cover your wall, apply liquid starch (available in supermarkets) with a roller, and stick the fabric to the wall like Kim Myles did here. When it's time to move, dampen the fabric with a sponge and it'll come right off again. I am itching to try this myself!
You could also use decorative thumb tacks to secure fabric to the wall for even easier removal.

Do let me knowif you decide to give any of these ideas a go - I'd love to see your results!

Post contains some affiliate links.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Cute, Colourful Kids Rooms

For S's big boy room, I'm embracing bright colours and kid-friendly design with a focus on lots of his favorite things. I've shared the design board for this room before (here and here), but here it is again:
There wasn't one particular room that inspired this design, but I did love the colors in this one:
From a Crown Paint catalog
Here are some other inspiring kids' spaces that embrace colour and aren't afraid to echo their occupants' young, fun personalities.
{Via}
{Via}
{Via
{Isabella & Max Rooms via Made By Girl}
{Via}
I have to give this one a special mention because it's in a Chicago loft very similar to ours! I love the grey walls balanced with all the colour. See more details at kitschicagoan.
My plan this weekend is to at least get started on painting my little man's room. After all the painting I did in our master bedroom, I'm finding it a bit difficult to get motivated to begin another whole room, but seeing pretty pictures like these always helps!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Refurbished Wooden Patio Set

Last weekend, my lovely husband sanded and sealed our patio set - phase one of prettifying the balcony...
{Before} 
{After}
Okay, I know it doesn't look like a huge transformation, but the wood was really suffering before and now it's all rich and lovely-looking again (and, thankfully, less orange). We got the set for about $100 at the end of summer a few years ago (best time to buy patio furniture) and it worked well on our old balcony...
The style (and color) is slightly at odds with the industrial look of our new space, but I think I can make it work. I need to get lots of flowers out there, obviously, but I'm waiting until after we go on vacation. The balcony also needs a good clean, and I'm on the hunt for a cheap and cheerful outdoor rug (because that black metal gets scorching hot) and some colorful chair pads.