Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring living room reveal!

I promised her so here she is!  Tons of pictures today.
Introducing...our living room all dressed for Spring!

The coffee table was a hand-me-down that was originally made in Chile, the blue couch was a $40 garage sale find.  The rug is a "wooly bully" rug from Lowes and the drop-arm chaise in front of the window I found at an antiques place in the country.  I haven't had an opportunity to reupholster it yet so it has throws covering it for the time being.

The curtains are white raw-silk from Bed Bath and Beyond and the mirrored "old-world" map on the wall is from TJ Maxx, along with the pillows on the couch.

These end tables are the only pieces of furniture I've ever bought new from a store, I got them back when Target had their "world bazaar"... man I miss that!  The candle holder is from IKEA, I filled the base with moss to earth it down a little bit.  The wax horse-bust was my grandma's, I always wanted it when I was little!

Pidge always knows when I'm taking pictures!  This is the other side of the room, the buffet, mirror and feathers stayed the same, I just changed up some of the accessories.

I finally decided to just put out my bottle collection, I think if you're displaying bottles they always need to be somewhere where they can catch the light and sparkle.  If they're in a dark corner they just look dingy, so clean up those bottles and get them on a window-sill!  The lady's brush was found at an antique shop, it has one of my grandma's embroidered hankies tucked under it.

The "wreath" is nothing more than some leftover rope tied into a small coil with some lavender hung over it.  I love wreaths over mirrors and this is a super unique (and super cheap!) alternative.

Usually I don't like little figurines etc. but I found this tiny horse at a Goodwill for 25 cents and liked how clean and graphic it was.

Now to the fireplace wall...the sconces were a big splurge from Anthropologie, I have a small magnifying glass collection and loved these as soon as I saw them.  The mirror was a big save from an antique mall 45 minutes away!

I like cluttered mantels, what can I say?

I found the boat at TJ Maxx last year and couldn't pass it up.  The candlesticks were from Goodwill, I've left them tarnished because I like the patina...I also put some sheet moss on the bobeche to add some green.

The L-O-V-E letters were found in Hobby Lobby's clearance bin.

The antlers were a gift from my father-in-law, he grew up in Louisiana and hunting is how he helped provide for his family when they were growing up.  I covered the trophy board with burlap to soften it and gave the antlers a little peat moss for Spring.

I love this coffee-table-scape!  It's just some vintage books from a nunnery across the river and a scale that I found in a tiny "dive" antique shop.  It's one of my favorite finds of all time, I love scales and this one was particularly interesting.  I covered one side with sheet moss and the little "weights" that came with it.  
The other side is a little nest made from peat moss with three little unfinished, cardboard eggs nestled in it.  That says Spring to me!

I hope you enjoyed this room, I really had fun putting it together.  It's amazing how a little change can really perk up your day and nothing is perkier than blooms and green and everything darling!

Please send me your Spring rooms!

For a "before and after" of this room visit here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring has sprung at Stonegate Cottage!

Finally we have gotten some beautiful days here in the Midwest!  Of course, this is Illinois so we are sure to be taunted and disappointed for several weeks still before Spring really kicks in.

However I have chosen to hurry the season change inside anyway since I'm just too impatient to wait for it outside!

A full "spring living room reveal" is coming next week!

I promise

While I'm at it, thank you so much to everyone who takes the time to leave a comment here, it makes my day!  Makes me think maybe I'm not crazy and talking to myself :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Couch SOS!

Okay so today I am hoping that I can get some advice on a subject that I am completely unfamiliar with!  I need to buy a couch...

You would assume that since I'm living in a 'fully' furnished house I would have bought a couch before...but no!  Actually, I have never bought a new upholstered piece of furniture in my whole life.  I have always been a staunch "find and redo" kind of girl and my taste is distinctly vintage/antique with the lyrical shapes and wood frames.  I have a problem now, here's the setup...

We spend 90% of our time in our den, which is really one of the house's bedrooms.  In it right now is a loveseat waaaaaay older than me that is a hand-me-down from my mom, along with an 80's chaise that also predates me.  Both have reached the end of their life in this house, I think the couch may just fall apart around me one of these days!  This is the room where I do my upholstery, watch TV and work online so whatever we get has to be SUPER durable.  Also, it needs to be more comfortable than vintage couches tend to be (no wooden arms etc.), Allen likes to fall asleep a lot earlier in the evening than I do so he needs a spot to actually be able to sleep while I'm still "up and at 'em."

Ideally I would love a white, slipcovered sofa with a pleated skirt and little legs sticking out but I can't find any options with pleats that are affordable.  If you know of any please send them my way!

Here are some actual options that I've found, all I know is I'm thinking value!

Harrison Slipcover Sofa
Overstock - $450
Ektorp Sofa
IKEA - $400
Hovas Sofa
IKEA - $500

Told you!  I only have three options because I really don't know how to shop for furniture!  I'm not sure what stores are out there but I'll keep looking.  I'm asking for any opinions or ideas here!  

Also I should mention, I have thought of finding a "modern" sofa on craigslist and slipcovering it myself with pleats etc. but I am not a seamstress and that is a project  that I consider way out of my skill set!

Thanks for your help!

Ps. If you'd rather... :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I'm sure some of ya'll (yeah, I said that) have been wondering where I've been this week!  Well the hubs and I took the ten hour drive down to Birmingham to visit his family this weekend.  It was wonderful to see everyone and Pidge loves nothing more than running around with her cousins!  
On Saturday we went to the first day of "Trade Days" in Tannehill.  I'm not sure the best way to describe it, it's like part flea market, part craft fair, part antique mall, and part fine art fair.  Since it was the first day it was open we waited nearly two hours in a line of cars to get in.  We had a great time though, the weather was so warm and the sun was shining...MmmmmMmmm.

Now that we're home I have my big confession to make...

I didn't bring a camera.

I knowit, I've failed as a writer in blogland.

Don't hold it too much against me!  We've been having some "technical difficulties" when it comes to the camera.   

Sheepish grin.

We did pick up a few things for the house, some vintage prints, a piece of driftwood and an antique velvet equestrian helmet.  I wish you could see them!  I got so many great ideas from this trip, I can't wait to get started on some of them!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The greatest accomplishment candle covers!

Okay, that may have been ramping it up a bit but really, I think this is pretty awesome.

So one of my biggest pet peeves in the world is ugly candle covers.  Either paper, plastic or glass...if they don't look right they just ruin a light fixture.  

So I bought a chandelier for our sunroom off of ebay for the cheapy-cheaps.  In the picture the candle covers looked all drippy and pretty so I thought it would work out well.  
When it arrived the chandelier was beautiful and heavy and vintage-looking, but the candle covers were awful.  They looked like cut sections of PVC pipe, they were huge, stark white and the ugliest cheap plastic in the world.  Anyway I contacted the company and they kindly sent me some different plastic covers with "drips" on them but they were still ugly and not the right size anyway.

What's a girl to do?  Turn to the internet!  I found many GORGEOUS candle covers from excellent businesses out there made of beeswax or resin, all handmade and yummy.  These tended to run $5-$15 apiece though...too much for me!

So I turned to my friend Deidre, I had considered every diy approach I could think of, from melting wax candles and dipping the covers in it to glycerin soap (yeah I was desperate) to finding an easy-to-work-with resin online.  Then Deidre mentioned hot the cuff as if it was the most obvious solution ever, clearly unaware she had just rocked my world!  Sheer genius, but would it work?

Indeed-e-o it does :)

This is how my covers looked when I started (and please forgive picture quality, I was sick with an awful fever when I did these and since I haven't mastered the art of having three hands yet I did the best I could with two).
Soooooo unattractive.

So I got out my trusty hot glue gun and went to town.  I let it heat up until it was ready and then began covering the entire tube with "lines" of glue butting up to each other.  What happens is that while the glue is still hot it "melds" the lines together to form a slightly imperfect coating of translucent glue.

This sounds like it would absolutely take ages but it only took me ten minutes each!
You can see how much texture and thickness it adds to the candle sleeve.

After you have the whole thing covered initially, let it sit a few minutes to cool just enough to handle it again, then if you want them, make the "drips."
I made mine a little on the subtle side and kept them mostly at the top, but you can add as many as you want, or make them much longer, like the candle has been burning down for hours.  
Don't be concerned if it's sloppy or you "mess it up," that's just how candles look anyway!

Now every time I look at my chandelier it makes me so happy!
The covers glow just like a real candle does and the wax is beautifully translucent.  They look just like the real thing whether it's turned on or off!

If you want to try a slightly different look, find yourself some opaque hot glue (you can find it in colors or just white).  There was none at any of our local shops but I did find some on Etsy, I just wasn't patient enough to wait for it :).  Or after you've done the glue part you could spray or hand paint over it.  You'll take away the translucence but you'll get the look of an antique candle cover if that's what you're going for.

I hope some of you give this a try, it could not have been any easier and the result is 1,000X more beautiful than before.  Even better, it's virtually free...cause that's the way I roll.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Little room "before" coming atcha!

Our house is a three-bedroom cape and the smallest of these bedrooms is 8.5' x 9.5'... I challenge you to find a bedroom smaller than that!  Most master bedroom closets are larger than this room.  But wouldn't you know it, it's become one of our very favorite spots in the house...of course!  Since it doesn't have an obvious purpose we just began calling it the "little room" and so it remains today.

Because of the size, it warms up in about .2 seconds and is so comfy cozy, it's also bright and cheerful 90% of the day because the house next door is white and reflects all that southern light into its little windows.  We use it (loosely) as an office/studio, there is a desk in there but really I use it for a reading room, there isn't a pleasanter spot to sit and read than in the quiet back of the house.

This is how the room looked when we moved in.
It had the same "rag-rolled" technique on the walls as the living room had, but this time in blue.  There was a teddy bear wallpaper boarder at the top (which turned out to be a strange) and a tiiiiiny white and brass ceiling fan with some fabric scraps hanging down from it.  The curtains were encrusted with dust (you know, how they get when they've never been moved) and the window frames were cracked and broken.  Finally, the ceiling was splotchy and unfinished.

Since this room had so little obvious potential it became my furniture refinishing studio at first and eventually (as I began doing my work in one of the larger rooms) simply a repository for junk...any junk...all junk...everything we didn't know what to do with.  There were points where you couldn't open the door!
By the way, if you have one of these junk rooms, just clean it out.  Really, it's amazing the drag that it can be on your mind and what a waste of useable space!  Just dedicate a weekend and get all that stuff outa there!  You'll feel oh so much better.

That being said we probably lived with the clutter for a year, then I had a friend.  I've mentioned my friend Abby before (she helped me with the kitchen...friends for oh so long!) and she is an organizer and motivator extraordinaire.  Any time I need organizing help or motivation to attack something not fun she's there!  We had decided one day enough was enough and while Allen was at work we went through the entire room of stuff along with the closet as well.  It was monumental, and as if that wasn't enough the next day we ripped down the wallpaper border and painted the walls and the ceiling.  We were able to keep it a secret from Allen because the door was always closed anyway.  We changed the lighting and re-staged the room as a big surprise to the hubby who was dreading having to tackle this room with me!

The COMPLETELY different "after" is coming very very soon... I think the ENTIRE budget (furniture, paint and all fixtures included) was about $300 so stick around!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My chalkboard door...and the big 2-5!

I was raised in the land of "waste not want not," hence whenever I have a project in mind I look around to see what I already have that I can use.  Last summer I was teaching art classes for some little girls in our church and I needed a chalkboard for our lessons.  Not wanting to spend the money for a new one, I took one of the cabinet doors from our old kitchen, spray painted the edges yellow and brushed the middle with some $5 chalkboard paint.  

This project couldn't be any easier, you can use the hinge hardware to simply hang it on the wall with nails.  I put $1.25 clearance knobs in the holes left from the old handle and added some clothespins (backed with sticky tack) to hold notes.  If you don't have a cabinet door hanging around, try Habitat for Humanity or a salvage store...usually odd ones will cost just a couple bucks.

In other news, yesterday was my beautiful hubby's twenty-fifth birthday!  He may be the sweetest, most caring man that ever walked this earth, I'm totally convinced that 25 will be the best year ever!

Happy birthday honey, I love you!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Enter Pidge...

This is Pidge, our two-year-old sheltie puppy.  She is all fluff, all bark, all bad and we love her oh so much! 

Her full name is Pigeon (in the family tradition) but that's just too many syllables so we call her Pidge.  She is one of the sweetest puppies ever to wake you up with gunbursts of barking only to jump on the bed and make sure you're ok afterward.  We call her our "shadow puppy" because no matter what we're doing in the house, she's right there making sure she's part of it!

We got Pidge the first year we were married, a few months after we found Bugs (read about him here).  You may ask, how well do they get along?

Oh. my. goodness.
You have never seen two disparate animals play this way.

They have decided the most fun game in the whole world is for Pidge to stand on her back legs flailing on Bugs with her front ones while he's clinging to her undercarriage completely airborne as she whirls around.  It's like watching bull-riding, except underneath!  They invented this game though when Pidge was much smaller, I think sometimes Bugs is surprised she got so big!
We left Bugs with all his claws so we don't have much concern about them playing too hard.  If Pidge gets too uppity with him you'll hear a yelp and see her streaking through the house with this tiny peaches and cream streak chasing after her.

When we got her I had spent literally months, probably at least half a year, researching everything I could ever need to know about raising a puppy.  We were crate-training her, feeding her better than ourselves, and she would never sleep in our bed etc.  Well, she got trained, went to obedience school, became the sweetest fuzzball in the world and now...
...she sleeps with me every night.  You knew that was coming right?

She's definitely large for a sheltie, I've never seen a female her size but it's just as well...more to love!  She is a pathological barker (as shelties tend to be), she just really wants me to know anytime a leaf has moved, or heaven forbid...a squirrel.  Because of this we have a house policy never to let her in the backyard off of leash before 9:00am or after 9:00pm.  It means a lot of early morning standing out there (for Allen) demanding a "pottying" but at least we have good relationships with our neighbors!

We went on a fishing trip with Allen's family last summer, Pidge thought that was the most exciting thing ever.

She was sure to let us know anytime there was a fish...or a leaf.

I hope you've enjoyed meeting the fluffiest member of our family, I'm sure she'll keep popping up, there's always a story to tell about Pidge!  She's sleeping on the couch next to me, so I'll tell her you said hi!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What can you do with $1,400???

Remodel your kitchen of course!

When we moved into our little cottage, the hubby was working a very unstable job and I was balancing three small part-time jobs so that we could buy a house and get out of our tiiiiiiiny apartment.  When we moved in the living room was the first room I tackled (under strict budgetary guidelines you understand!) and secondly, it was inevitable...came the kitchen.

Now, it should be pointed out that right after I began tearing the kitchen apart, hubs (very unexpectedly!) lost his job.  Since the kitchen was already decimated, we had to tighten the budget even more.  At times I wasn't sure it could be done, but waddaiknow!

I'm one of those people that gets an idea and runs with it...pretty much no matter what.  My friends refer to it as "rottweilerism."  So one day, Allen leaves for work and when he comes home, he finds the entire kitchen laid out in the living room...because that day I had woken up and thought, "Hey, let's redo the kitchen today!"  Enter Deidre.  Deidre is one of my oldest friends, we go back to kindergarten and she happens to live one neighborhood away from me (so less than a mile).  She's always up for something, so when I called her she came over and we spent that day dismantling the cabinetry.  We didn't have any power tools, just a hand screw driver and the determination of two tiny women in a kitchen!

So when Allen came home and was surprised to see a black hole where our kitchen used to be I quickly outlined my "plan" for getting it back...thank goodness he's such a patient man!

Without any further ado, here's my kitchen redo.
The day we moved in.
It was an incredibly small (even for me!) galley kitchen, cut off by the fridge with no light and no counter space to speak of.  The counters there were were old "faux marbled" laminate, the sink was about 4" deep with a broken garbage disposal and all old brass hardware.

One month, $1,400, a borrowed power driver and one bent jigsaw blade later, this is what our kitchen looked like.
A little better, no?  Some of the cabinets stayed put, others moved around, turned over, or went away.  The only new cabinet purchased for this whole project was the one that holds the sink because farmhouse sinks need extra support.  I didn't want to spend money on the doors so I made a skirt out of burlap, I love the texture, and it doesn't show water spots.  One of the upper cabinets on the left hand side I just turned from vertical to horizontal and the other is the tiny one that used to be over the refrigerator.  The corbels are not supportive but I wanted them to make that side of the kitchen look more like a freestanding piece.  The backsplash is beadboard painted white with an oil-based finish (glossy, for cleanup).  We chose butcher block countertops partially for their $ but also just for their charm.  I was very skeptical about their durability but they surprise me time and time again, eventually we may replace with either thicker of the same material or maybe add some stone, but for the time being they are wonderful...especially if you bake!

Across from it was a pantry area, in what was also the dining room.

So I moved the fridge over there, and voila!
The cubbies on the left side are made by yours truly with the help of my friend Abby, we've also been friends forever...thank goodness for your girlfriends, right?  The pantry on the right is the original that was there.  I took the top of the left pantry cabinet, and turned it on its side to go over the fridge.  I used some wood beadboard to fill in the gaps between cabinets and CAREFULLY cut out the center panel to install some radiator grate.  I think it helps to break up the black a little bit.  The drawer/door pulls are a beautiful matte black with a wrought iron look to them and a hammered detail, it might seem strange to put black hardware on black cabinets but I think it smoothes out the look of the kitchen nicely, besides, I loved them!

That area right next to it was the dining room.
It was SO small no one could move their chairs out from the table!  This room is also a pass-through from our living room to our sunroom so it was very inconvenient.  We decided to move the dining room into the adjoining sunroom so that we could expand the kitchen into the whole space and make it a more comfortable "eat in."

A kitchen cart that my mom found at a garage sale, I love how cute it is!  We painted it yellow and topped it with the same countertop material as the rest of the kitchen.  We felt we needed another surface over by the fridge to put stuff on, it's worked like a charm!

Our new breakfast nook, we love greeting the day here, our bird feeder is just outside the window.

Here is the basic layout of what I ended up doing, hopefully it will help clarify the space-plan.

Before                                                               After

I chose black for our cabinets because of its durability but I also feel it's something you hardly ever see, I was extremely nervous about it but it was during this reno that I was first introduced to "The Lettered Cottage" blog.  I really wanted my cabinets black and everyone was horrified at the idea, so someone on Gardenweb (love it!) directed me to Layls'a beautiful blog and her dark cabinets gave me the pluck to go for glad that I did!  Layla has since redone their kitchen in beautiful greys, but if you look in her archives you can find her black kitchen.

We call this super-budget reno "Phase 1," because the light fixtures obviously need addressing, the curtains, appliances and whoknowswhatotherknickknacks generally styling it a little nicer.  We have been thrilled with the result and for a cheapo kitchen it works like a dream!  Don't feel you have to settle for a layout that's not working for you or fixtures you don't like, anything can be changed and if you do your research it doesn't have to cost a fortune either!  

  And there you have it!  This post is getting into the 'very long' category so I will post sources and inspirations as well as the budget breakdown very soon so if you're planning a remodel like this one, should be easy as pie!  Well...

Have a diy kitchen?  I'd love to see it!  Please send pics to!

P.S. A few months later Allen did get a new job, it's at the not-for-profit he's working for now and he's just as happy as a clam!