Friday, May 29, 2009

#24...I heart faux bois

When I first saw the eclectic, cool, faux bois paneling in the bathroom of Shauna Alterio & Stephen Loidolt of something's hiding in here, I was totally smitten. The apartment was featured as a design*sponge sneak peek here, and also been featured on Etsy's There's No Place Like Here series.

Shauna and Stephen shared their instructions for making your own faux bois paneling via Readymade magazine online, (which is where my faux bois paneling project began,) however sadly, I can no longer find the instructions anywhere on Readymade's website. Shauna gave these simple instructions on design*sponge:
"we painted it using a very simple plastic “wood graining” tool from home depot. all you need is two colors of paint and this tool it’s so easy."

I found their instructions very helpful, however I wanted to share a few additional tips I learned while making my own paneling. My first faux bois project was to make paneling for my dining room window seat. You can see it below on the walls and ceiling of the window cut-out.

After installing my dining room paneling, I became obsessed, and made some for my guest room in my loft/studio space. (below)Here's what I learned while painting the paneling:
* Home Depot stopped carrying the graining tool in store, but you can still find it at many paint stores, or online here.
* Choose two contrasting colors. I chose navy/light grey for the dining room, and turquoise/light grey for the guest room. I opted for the darker of the two for the base, and the light grey to create the grain effect. Opt for latex paint.
* I purchased the unfinished paneling at Lowe's. First, paint the paneling in a solid base coat of chosen color. Then mix a 3 to 1 ratio of paint to water with the graining color to make a glaze like paint mixture. Making a glaze seemed to make the graining tool slide easier down the paneling, and extended the drying time of the top coat, allowing more time for working.
* Paint one panel piece at a time, and then immediately use the graining tool by sliding it down the board, rocking your tool back and forth as you drag. This creates the grain effect. Wipe excess paint off of the graining tool between boards.
* Alternate the direction that you drag the tool down the to bottom, then bottom to top for the next board. This will help insure that your pattern does not look too similar for each board. Hang and admire!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

#23...bud vase line-up

I love the centerpiece of glass bud vases displayed on the table in the above magazine shot. It is simple, and graphic and fun. Singularly, a glass bud vase isn't much to look at, but grouped they are something to admire. There is power in numbers.

I decided to recreate this look on my dining table. Digging through my vase menagerie, I found two bud vases that I liked enough to display. So, I headed to the Goodwill and the Salvation Army stores in my neighborhood and rounded up another 7 vases for my centerpiece. Each vase cost less than $2, with some costing as little as 30 cents. The total for my newly acquired old bud vases was $8.10.

I visited the flower market, looking for something with similar texture and size to the flowers in the inspiration photo. I purchased 9 yellow spider mums for $1.25 a stem, for a total of $11.50, and set about arranging them. This centerpiece cost less than $20, and has lasted for 6 days thus far. I'm excited to fill my vases with a new flower in a few days.

Monday, May 25, 2009

#22...watermelon basket basics

My Mom always carves a watermelon basket for parties, showers and summer soirees. It makes such a nice centerpiece that you hardly need any other table decorations. She's a pro at it, and although I have witnessed her making many a basket, I have never carved one on my own. For a Memorial Day barbecue yesterday, I decided to pick up the knife and try my hand at fruit carving. Although my basket garnered lots of compliments (pictured above), I think that Mom's basket (pictured below) still takes the cake!I spent about 2 hours carving and assembling the basket. (I did have help from my sister-in-law Jennifer cutting up all of the fruit, so I can't take full credit.) Here's how I did it....

First, cut the sides out of the watermelon to create the basket shape like this. Next, begin cutting and scooping the meat of the watermelon out to create the basket. I used a fruit baller and worked away removing the fruit in balls, which go into the fruit salad. The watermelon was really juicy, and several times I got an unexpected bath of watermelon juice while scraping the rind. I dumped excess juice out of the rind basket because I did not want the juices to heavily flavor all of the other fruit.
Cutting the zig-zag edge around the basket and handle was tougher than I thought it would be. I think that I should have used a smaller knife. My basket turned out looking a little like a jagged, toothy jack-o-lantern compared to Mom's perfectly formed zig-zag edge. I guess practice makes perfect.The final touch to the basket exterior is to cut a tiny hole in the basket handle and add a flower. I cut a flower from a weed-like vine growing behind my house. Because the basket needed to sit out for the duration of the party, I decided to fill it with fruits that do not turn brown quickly. My fruit salad consisted of watermelon balls, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple and grapes. The fruit options are endless, just remember that if you include a fruit that browns quickly, like apples or bananas, you'll need to include a citrus fruit so the juices can stave off the browning. I mixed the fruit salad in a bowl and simply filled the basket about 10 minutes before party time, so the fruit would be fresh and chilled.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

#21...faux malachite finish

I am in the process of helping my parents update their dining room. We added this new buffet to the room, that I found at a discount retail chain. It 's perfect for the room, but when I got it, it had a big blemish in the wood on the front left drawer, as you can somewhat see below.
Initially, I thought that I could fix the blemish with stain, and I tried to sand and refinish the spot to blend it into the rest of the piece. It didn't look good, and was still very noticeable. Using the book Paint Effects Masterclass by Sacha Cohen, I decided to try a faux finish on the buffet to mask the problem. The book is filled with pages of how to paint various stone finishes and wood grain looks. I wanted to choose a finish that was fairly easy to complete and did not require precise painting skills. I settled on a Malachite stone pattern. Malachite is a green mineral stone with circular and ribbon-like patterning.

Since green stone would have looked a little out of place in the dining room, I decided to translate the pattern to varying shades of dark brown.

To begin the project, I taped off the cabinet and primed and painted the section that I wanted to faux with a latex cream colored enamel.

Next, using artist's acrylic tube paints from the art supply store, I squeezed out two different shades of dark brown into separate piles on my palette. Using two different brushes, I painted patches of the two browns over my base coat. I worked in about a five inch square at a time, so that my paint would not dry before I got to faux it. To create the malachite circular ribbon pattern I simply tore up pieces of index cards and dragged them over the wet brown paint in a circular, squiggly motion, removing some of the brown paint, revealing the pattern. The book explains how to do the finish in more detail, and shows detailed pictures of how to drag the index card over the paint. The finished look is not perfect, but natural stone patterns are irregular anyway. There is a definite hand painted look to the cabinet, but overall I like how it turned out. After it dried, I brushed an artists gloss varnish over the faux finish to shine it up, and make it look more like the actual malachite stone. The project took me about 2 hours to complete and cost less than $10 for the small tubes of paint and varnish.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

#20...personality for elfa

I think that the elfa shelving system from The Container Store is genius. One top rail that mounts into the wall, and everything else suspends off said rail....what could be easier than that. It is perfect for people who hate to put holes in the wall, and people who hate measuring and leveling. I have two large elfa shelving systems in my house, and they hold an unreal amount of weight. Maybe it's magic.

The only thing I don't like about elfa is the actual shelves that the Container Store sells for the system. They are short, so you have to string a bunch together to get long horizontal shelves, and they are way too expensive (in my opinion) for veneered pieces of pressed particle board..(i.e. fake wood)

I have found a solution to this elfa shelf dilemma that is much more economical than purchasing the pre-fab shelves. I simply buy wood from the local home improvement store and make my own shelves. The only difference in using the elfa shelves and using wood is that you will have to buy some small wood screws and screw the brackets into the wood once the shelves are in place instead of using the pins that come with the pre-fab shelves and brackets.

elfa brackets come in several sizes, so once you decide on how deep you want your shelves and what bracket to purchase, you can buy planks of wood in the chosen depth. The great thing about stores like Home Depot is that most will even cut your wood to size for you for free.

Since the shelves are made of wood, they can be painted or stained to coordinate with their new home. There are so many options for what your shelves can look like. I have painted my shelves to match the color of my wall, as shown above and below.

I have also stained the shelves to match the floor.

And I have painted them an accent color like in this room. No two elfa's will ever look the same again!

Friday, May 15, 2009

#19...from butter knives to bracelets

I bought this beat-up old wooden silver chest* at the Goodwill awhile back. I thought that it could make a really nice jewelry box, and would be a fairly easy project. I ripped the guts out of the box and lightly sanded the exterior for good paint adhesion. I primed the box, and used an oil based enamel that I had leftover from a shelving project I did in my bedroom to coat the box twice.
* this is not my actual box in first photo, as I lost my "before" shot and had to pull one off ebay. My box did look exactly like this one though...I promise.
After painting, the box looked a little plain, so I decided to paint my initial on the top of the box using silver craft paints. I drew my "C" on paper first and then transferred it onto my box with carbon paper. I did not trust that I would be able to freehand a perfectly formed letter "C". You could also print out a letter from any font you like, if you don't want to draw it yourself. I added a new knob and pull to finish off the outside of the box.

Moving on to the inside of the box, I decided which pieces of my costume jewelry collection I wanted to house in the box and then set to work retro-fitting the box. I cut pieces of cardboard and used spray adhesive (use it outdoors) to stick some 1/4" foam or batting (also cut to size to the cardboard.) I then choose Amy Butler's Midwest Modern print for the lining. I wrapped the foam/cardboard pieces like a present, and fitted them into the box.

I wanted the lid of the box to house my pin collection, so I used some fabric scraps to make three strips that I wrapped across the front of the fabric and around the sides of the lid insert so that I would have something that I could pin to.This project took me about 3 hours to complete (not including drying time) and cost less than $35. I think this would make a lovely gift. Here is a breakdown of the materials costs.

old silver box: $10
1/2 yard of fabric: $8
foam: $5
seashell knob: $3 (on sale at Anthropologie)
pull: $4 (Home Depot)
cardboard: free, I cut up a box
paint & primer: free, leftovers
My box even has a bottom drawer!

Thursday, May 14, 2009*sponge

Today I am featured on the design*sponge blog in a "before & after" spot for a nursery I decorated and blogged about a few weeks ago. Thanks so much Grace for the props, and for posting my pics! Check it out here!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

#17...birds of light

O AT HOME Fall 2004

Metropolitan Home
April 2009

I fell in love at first sight with this winged bird light by German designer Ingo Maurer. It's whimsical and offbeat...totally my style. My husband Tyler, (who normally does not like this style,) took a look at the photos of the fixture, got inspired and decided that he wanted to attempt to recreate it.

Using a light fixture similar to the KRYSSBO from Ikea, some pliers, and a dozen wings that we dismembered from white doves sold in a local craft store's wedding section, he had fun bending the wires and positioning the wings. While I know that ours is not quite the quality of the original, it cost less than $100, allowing us to be able to afford to keep the light on!

Monday, May 11, 2009

#16...potting a pond

When choosing something for the landscape for the little curved bed just off my front porch steps, I wanted something sculptural, but not something too overpowering. I decided to test my green thumb by growing a potted water garden. Surprisingly, the water garden pot has turned out to be less maintenance than any of my other plants.

Here's how I made it, and some tips on how I care for it.

First, I found a pot at a garden center. This pot has a metallic bronze glaze on the bottom portion and was natural terracotta on the top portion. To ready the pot to hold water, I filled the bottom water hole in the pot with silicone used for sealing windows and doors that I bought in tube form and squeezed into the hole to close it up.

Next, I painted the entire inside of the terracotta pot with DRYLOK waterproofer. Since DRYLOK only came in white, and I did not want the interior of my pond to be white, I simply mixed a little bit of black acrylic paint that I had lying around into the DRYLOK to make it a gray color. I went ahead and painted the DRYLOK on the outside terracotta rim of the pot, as I did not like the terracotta look anyway, and wanted to totally seal the terracotta so that the water would not seep out. Note: DRYLOCK is messy! Wear gloves and expect your brush to get so mangeled that you'll throw it away.

Lastly, I painted the exterior rim of the pot with a gray/brown exterior latex floor paint that was leftover from when we painted the lattice skirting on our house.Then came time to fill the pot with water. I filled the pot and let it stand for a few weeks, monitoring if any water was seeping out, and how much was lost to evaporation. If it had lost a lot of water I figured I would drain it, check my silicone plug, and apply more DRYLOK.

Very little water is lost to evaporation. During the fall, winter and spring I have to add about 2 inches to the top about every six weeks. During the summer, I have to add the same 2 inches about once a week. This pot actually requires soooo much less water than a ground plant requires.

When it came time to choose plants, I did a little on-line research and found many on-line water garden nurseries selling plants. For about $25 I was able to purchase 5 varieties of water plants. My pot sits on the Northeast corner of my house, so I was observant of the sun it got and did my best to order plants that would thrive in my pot's sun allotment. The plants came in the mail, and looked like limp seaweed, but I carefully planted them according to the instructions that came with them. Click here for a diagram and more info on how to place water plants in pot.
Of the five plants that I ordered, only two lived, and only one is doing really well. The lily (shown above) has made lily pads covering the entire water surface....but no lily blooms yet. The taller plant is supposed to be about 2 feet tall, but it only sticks out of the water about 6 inches. Despite that the plants may not have done exactly what I thought they would, I like how the pond looks, and I love the little maintenance it needs.
This project took about six hours over the course of several weeks. Costs totaled less than $200, and included:
Pot: $120
DRYLOK paint: $25
Silicone: $6
Plants: $25
Pavers and Containers for Elevating Plants: $10

Thursday, May 7, 2009

#15....the magic of starch

My brother Mike, and sister-in-law (to be) Kelly, had a plain corner of their kitchen that was just calling out for some type of functional yet pretty cabinet. They purchased the smadal bookcase with glass doors from Ikea to house Kelly's red Fiestaware collection.

The cabinet looked good, but I really wanted to punch it up, and turn it into a one-of-a-kind piece. Using fabric and liquid starch, I was able to give this piece some personality. Here is how I applied the fabric to the back of the cabinet, resembeling wallpaper.

1. Cut the fabric to the shape of the back panels of your chosen bookcase or cabinet.

2. Pour a mixture of 3 parts liquid starch to 1 part water into a bowl big enough to dip and submerge the fabric. (The mixture of water to starch does not have to be precise. Mixing some water into the starch simply stretches your starch, giving you more mixture for dipping.)
    3. Dip cut fabric pieces into the mixture making sure to get them coated with the starch. Squeeze out any excess, as it is messy if the fabric is so wet that it drips.
    4. Position the dipped fabric in place and smooth out any air bubbles.
The fabric will dry in a few hours and the beauty of using starch as glue is that it will stay up as long as you want it too, but when you are ready to take it down, there is no damage or messy residue left on your cabinet. Simply peel off the fabric and wipe the cabinet with a damp sponge.
The total cost of this project was about $4 for the starch. I used fabric from my stash, so I did not have to purchase new. It took me about 1 hour to complete this project.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 with clay

I just finished reading the book Julie & Julia by Julie Powell, and although I am a little behind the times in my reading list, (the movie comes out this summer,) I am so glad I read the book because literature is always so much more savory (pardon the cooking pun) for me than viewing a two hour flick. The book is witty and hopeful, which I needed a good dose of, so I am feeling particularly cheery today.

While I have little interest in cooking, I did complete my own version of a masterpiece in my kitchen a few years ago. I decided to make my own back splash tiles. The whole thing started because I fell in love with some expensive, hand made tiles that I could not afford. I was not deterred though, I simply hatched a scheme to make my own hand made tiles.

At the time, I did have some experience working with ceramics and pre-made bisque, as I owned a paint-your-own-pottery studio in a retail shopping center. Despite the thousands of ceramic pieces I had painted and fired, I had never attempted to work from scratch with clay to create the pottery piece.
How hard could it be?
I began with a rolling pin, some clay, and some cookie sheets, and an hour or so into the project I had about ten perfectly formed wet clay tiles. Not a bad turnaround if I were making cookies, but I needed about 500 tiles for my kitchen.

Fast forward 2 years .....
I lost over half of the initial 200 tiles I made due to improperly drying them, which caused hairline cracks, which caused them to break during firing. After that, I signed up for a pottery class at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Glassell School, where I greedily used their massive drying racks and big slab roller.....then the semester ended, and I still only had half the tiles I needed. My parent's felt sorry for me...(or maybe they were worried about my sanity) and they bought me my own slab roller for my B-day. At some point, I finished the tile making, got the tiles glazed and fired, and installed them into my kitchen. I also made a tile cap for the top edge of the tiles. I get tons of compliments on my tiles and I am really glad I did it, but I don't think that I would have,if I had known how long it would take, and the incredible learning curve that goes along with working with clay.

In total, the project cost me about $300 for clay, glaze and firing, another $500 for the class I took, and close to a $1000 was spent by my parent's on my slab roller. I can not begin to factor the time I put into the project over the course of the two years. I'm pretty sure I could have gotten the original tiles I wanted for close to the same cost.

Time has gone by, and the strife of the project is behind me, and I am left with my beautiful tiles. I have been toying with making some new sample tiles for a bathroom remodel. I figure I need about 750 tiles....better get to rolling!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

#13...kitty kraft

I recently made these kitty dolls for my cousin's nursery. She and her husband really love their cats Alfi and Miska (bottom photo), so I decided to create their likeness in fabric for a nursery decoration. I know that the stuffed versions will be loved by baby as much as the real ones are loved by the parent's-to-be.

To make the stuffed cats, I used a pattern from Denyse Schmidt's book Quilts. I have had the book for a year or so, and I have been dying to make this pattern. It was really easy to follow and really fun to make. I used scraps from a vintage tweed skirt, and a scrap from an old white quilt to craft the kitty dolls. I followed the pattern almost exactly, with one exception... I decided to sew the ears with finished seams by sewing right sides together and turning them inside out instead of clipping around the ears with pinking shears to finish them as the pattern calls for.

Denyse's pattern does suggest using felt eyes instead of buttons if the cats are intended for an infant, but I decided to go with buttons, knowing that baby will admire his or her cats on the shelf for a few years before getting to love them.

Each cat took me about 2 to 3 hours to create, and since I used recycled fabrics and buttons, each cost less than $6 for polyfil, felt and embroidery floss. I'm currently looking for my next kitty muse.