March 29, 2011

Oh cracked floor no more...

Almost three years ago, we negotiated ourselves out of a fixed kitchen floor to save some money on our new home... The previous (then current) homeowners had offered to fix the one broken ceramic tile in front of the sink in the kitchen if we accepted a certain price. Well, we do not accept that price and convinced ourselves that the broken tile could be covered with an area rug. Well, it turns out that more tiles were just waiting to break on us...

You see, the homeowners had this idea to cut-out a rectangular section in the center of the beautiful hardwood floor that covered their kitchen, and in it's place, lay some peachy and quite ugly ceramic tile. Seeing as the hardwood floor was about 3/4" thick, but the new tile was only about 1/4" thick, they built-up the sub floor with a sheet of plywood. What we have now figured out is that, that sheet of plywood was not properly secured to the sub floor, therefore allowing too much movement and give, and causing almost every single tile to eventually crack. To make matters worse, the tiling job was not well done either. The tiles were actually removed quite easily... (Mike Holmes would have been so furious!)

My F-in-L (father-in-law) Tim came to stay for a week with the most important goal of changing our broken and quite dangerous kitchen floor for a new laminate floating floor.

The Befores and Afters

Here are some before shots, taken Sunday afternoon:
Here are some post-demolition and pre-instillation shots taken Sunday evening:
(That's my husband workin' hard!)

And here is what I came home to after work on Monday:

What a difference! And oh! does it feel good to walk on! No bumps, no broken tiles, no chunks of grout coming out here and there, no impossible-sweeping-cause-everything-gets-stuck-in-all-the-cracks... Joy oh joy! This makes me happy!

What is next on my kitchen to-do list (cause you know THE list never ends)?

We are currently hunting down some second-hand white appliances (stove and refrigerator) to replace the old almond colored ones that came with the house.

I have also found quite a bargain through on new cabinet hardware for a steal of a deal (the entire kitchen, 32 doors, for $60).

And of course I wish the backsplash tile would just go away...
Isn't it awful? But we are holding-off on that for now. I may decide to whip-out a sledge hammer and demolish the backsplash and paint it a nice, light café-au-lait color in the meantime (I think anything would be better than that peach-and-terra cotta combo!) but we'll see. I may sweet talk my F-in-L into helping me while he's here...Ideally when we re-tile the backsplash, we would change the counter tops to something lighter and more modern.

Most urgently, I need to replace the curtains cause look what happened during demolition:

Oops right? Well, Jon hated them from the moment I brought them home and installed them. He was just waiting for the day where he could accidentally rip them! I am not at all sad to have to replace them. And since Jon wants me to avoid a blue color scheme, it will allow me to find a new scheme for the kitchen. I'm thinking light lime green... I have seen some gorgeous curtains lately...
I'll keep you "posted" on the developments.

And for all you DIY-ers looking to do something like this yourself (mind you, I did not install the floor but my husband and F-in-L did), here are a few tips:
  • The demolition and the prep work takes the longest. Grab lots of garbage bags or boxes or bins to collect the old stuff.
  • Keep a vacuum cleaner close by to quickly pick up any dust before it spreads to the ends of the earth... well, of your house.
  • Avoid sweeping as it will only raise the dust in the air and allow it to settle on everything else.
  • Once the demolition is done, start with the cleanest slate possible.
  • Take your time figuring out the lay-out and follow the instructions carefully.
  • Enlist a friend or two to help, and hopefully one of them will have previous experience.
  • Ask for helpful tips and advice when purchasing the product.
On to the next project...

March 21, 2011

Look what I found...

Ah yes, I am really starting to love second-hand furniture hunting... I found yet another deal, this time on Kijiji Ottawa. I have been looking for a perfectly sized TV armoire for our main floor family room probably since we first moved in almost three years ago. Well, for $50, I found one that is just the right size.

It's just to say 5' tall (perfect Mylène size!) and is perfectly suited for my sweet 22" LCD TV! It is in pretty decent condition! Of course, it has a few dings here and there, and a few pieces for the drawer hardware may need to be replaced. But overall, it is in good condition! Although Jon and I like the warmth of the current color, the dings and dents that it does have are obvious, so refinishing is in order. I will also be adjusting the height of the shelf to fit the TV.

At first, I was thinking semi-gloss black with brushed satin tear drop or ring pulls to give it a more contemporary look, get it away from the country feel and match it to the two end tables I currently have in the space which are black. But I am afraid painting it dark will make it feel just that: dark! And it would probably also make it the focal point of the entire room, which I don't necessarily want. So, I am thinking I want to finish it in a warm grey wash, sort of like this:
It should only take a light sanding and one thin coat of paint, and then a protective matte finish clear coat. I want to be able to see the grain and the knots, and similar to the above piece, I would also pair it with black hardware (mine will be a little fancier though, or at least not as boring!). Where I am currently torn is if I am keeping the doors on or taking them off. If they stay on, they would remain open 90% of the time as I could only see myself closing them when we have company and even then, I don't feel it would be necessary to close them. Plus, in it's future home which is a corner on an angle, and since the doors don't fold all the way back and out of the way, the doors would hit a wall on one side and a lamp shade on the other... yeah, not very esthetically pleasing! If I take them off all together, I could line the back with a patterned paper or fabric which would add some pattern. So, of course, I am leaning towards taking them off. Ideally, I would love for them to slide inwards and vanish when open because I do like the idea of being able to keep the TV behind closed doors if I ever want to. Lee Valley sells the hardware to do it, but I would have to trim the doors which is what I am not sure of and quite uncomfortable with.

So, we'll see. I'm not ready to paint yet in any case. Plus, my father-in-law is coming next week to install my new kitchen floor (TEASER WARNING! PHOTOS TO COME!) so I may ask him to help me reconfigure the doors since he is bringing his tools already (gotta love Dads and Dads-in-law for that!).

Stay tuned!

March 19, 2011

The second and final reveal

One of my first posts and my first official "blog" projects was a second-hand desk that I found through Craigslist for $50. After painting it glossy white and changing the hardware, I still was not in love with the finished product. You can read all the details in this previous post. I had a few other things I wanted to try to see if it would enhance the area before starting over from scratch. Well, the desk is now done...

First, I added a few coats of glossy clear varnish so that it really looked finished. I ended up painting the "F-A-M-I-L-L-E" letters above the photo gallery in white. I also (finally) filled the frames with black and white pictures of people I actually knew. Finally, I polished the shiny chrome 1" high legs or feet, and put them in place. It added that little bit of extra height to balance out the proportions.

The Befores and Afters


Here is the first reveal again:


But the whole look was not perfect to me.

And here is the finished product:


Here, you see the bit of extra height added by the little "feet".

As you can see in this next picture, I paired two of the damask placemats from Dollorama that I bought for 2-for-$1 as a landing pad for my laptop. They also add a bit more interest to the large all-white surface.

I added a lamp that I had lying around with an old IKEA lampshade that I bought several years ago. The colors match and the design is just girly enough. It will do for now and at least provides some task light to an otherwise quite dark basement corner.

I took four other damask placemats to line the two drawers. Because they are made of plastic, they will be easy to whipe off and will avoid damaging the drawers themselves. I secured them down using sticky poster gum.

I'm sure to many of you, it may not seem all that different. But, to me, the entire area just feels more complete. I still want to recover the computer chair in a fabric to add more color and re-enforce the color scheme. But for now, I LOVE it! My favorite part of the desk, besides its ginormous-ness, is by far the crystal knobs. Still love those babies!

March 17, 2011

Basement Inspiration Board

Our basement has a very good sized family room. It currently has one "end" for entertainment and the other "end" for Nico's toys. Then, somewhere in the middle is my (new) computer desk. Eventually, once Nico moves into his big boy room (hopefully sooner rather than later) all of his toys or at least 95% of them will move to his room as well. his current room is just too small. Along with this change, I want to better define my desk area with an area rug and use the entire space to its full potential.

Without further ado, here is my inspiration board for the basement family room:

Here is the floor plan:

Keep in mind that the entire basement is currently painted a warm beige with crisp white trim. Although the inspiration board may seem drab and dark, it would not actually feel that way. I would also add a tonne of decor and accents in the white entertainment unit to inject more color and life. I also currently have a lot of colorful artwork and display that would remain in the space, as shown here:

Another thought or maybe a wish that I have for the space is to create another little sitting area, maybe with a big comfy chair and ottoman, or a plush chaise lounge in the corner where the toy box is on the floor plan. It could be a little reading nook with its own lamp and table.

All I know for sure is that I can't wait for the snow to melt and the warm weather to arrive, cause my son and husband currently play soccer and hockey in the basement and they have come close to hitting or have actually hit me while I work / play at my desk... That will become a new rule with the warmer weather and a slightly older child: no more sports in the house!

Now, all this inspiration is great, but it comes with the biggest price tag as most of the furniture, with the exception of my desk and the television, would have to be purchased. So, this room will be at the end of our "home to-do list". But inspiration also equals motivation to save the pennies for such projects. In the mean time, I get to complete smaller projects. After all, that's life, right?

Tips, Tricks & Tools

I ain't no genius, but I have a few tricks that I've discovered along the way or learned from fellow blogger that I must share.

Power screw driver:
Before receiving a gorgeous DeWalt power drill for our wedding (which has since become my second child!) we used an el-cheapo rechargeable battery- powered screw driver. Sure, it seems lazy, but can I tell you that that 10$ power tool saved us at least an hour when assembling a baby crib? Sure, we would have had ripped arms (or just really sore arms) after the assembly was done, but we just loved that thing and it made the job a breeze! I even used it to drill a few holes in the wall (although it is really not what it is intended for... he he he!) It is a must have in any DIY-sister's tool box.

Command products by 3M (
Easy to use and won't damage the walls. Most recently, I love the Velcro products. I've hung many light-weight pieces on walls using it and love the results!

Sticky poster gum:You know, that sticky, gum-textured stuff? I place a teeny-tiny bit under a corner of pretty much every piece I hang when I don't want it to move (either with the slamming of the house door, or by every day life). Plus, can also be used to hang your smallest, lightest pieces. And (love this hint!) it you have something like a pedestal with a candle that you are afraid may get knocked over, stick a piece of this magic stuff underneath to secure it in place.

Bed skirt pins (link):
I know, I know... it seems ridiculous, but such a small thing can make a gorgeous finish! It holds the bed skirt in place that it floats just oh so right off the floor!

Duvet cover clips (link):
Again, sounds ridiculous, but adds to the "together" look of your bedroom by keeping your duvet perfectly placed inside its cover (without you having to fight with it).

Baskets, Boxes and Bins, Oh my!:
There are so many uses for any basket, box or bin you can find. Use them to organize just about any space: home office, washroom, craft station, make-up drawer, under-the-kitchen-sink cleaning products, bedroom closet, kitchen pantry, linen closet, underwear drawer, etc. etc. etc. ... And you can use any type, shape or form of these organization wonders! My clever sister even used an empty diaper box, which is quite sturdy and has handles, and recovered it with leftover fabric to use as a place to organize things in her bedroom closet. Pure genius she is! Basically, these three B's can be your home's best friends to keep it neat and organized.

March 16, 2011

Blog Land is a wonderful place

In the last month or so since I started blogging, I have been super inspired to tackle so many projects, big and small, all over the house. After a week or two, I actually had to take a step back and determine a "blog plan" for myself. You see, before even starting my blog, I had decided that I wanted to post at least one entry each week. I brainstormed for ideas of existing and future projects that I could write about. Next thing I knew, I had over a year's worth of weekly blog topics!

One day, while browsing my fellow-bloggers' posts, I actually felt overwhelmed by the amount of crafty and DIY inspirations out there. I kept feeling that "I have to do that too" or "I have to remember this project". I totally got ahead of myself... The dangers of being overly excited and inspired is that I started planning too many projects at once, having difficulty sleeping or concentrating on anything else because my mind would not shut down as it was just bursting with ideas...!!! And I caught myself buying supplies for future projects before even finishing current projects...

Now, just over a month in, I feel just as inspired, but also controlled and at piece with the idea of it all. I have also discovered the amazing fun of "link parties". You may have noticed that a few of my posts have "buttons" at the end, indicating that my post has been linked to another blog. Well, these blog link parties are filled with inspiration! At the same time, it allows me to discover new blogs that I can follow. Plus, I know that I can literally blog forever, and whenever I run out of ideas for current projects, I can easily find ideas on other blogs, which is quite amazing as the possibilities are actually endless.

The reality for me is that, being creative is who I am. I can't live without releasing and expressing my creative self and sharing my results with others. And, I have always loved writing in journals. Even if no one really reads it, this blog is first and foremost for me. In this blog, I find the encouragement and motivation to do something that I REALLY love! There is a form of freedom that comes with having your own blog. You get to write pretty much what you want about whatever you want!

So, as part of my blog plan, here are...

My blog rules goals:
1) one post every week (at minimum)
2) one project at a time
3) projects must be thrifty and inexpensive (which is quite natural for me as I am CHEAP!)
4) follow and link up to other blogs
5) be true to myself!

This is me, and this is MY blog! And I am loving every minute of it!

March 13, 2011

Pillow talk

A few weeks ago, I went to a store called the Wicker Emporium for the first time, and LOVED it! I had to control myself not to buy every single thing that I loved. I did, however, buy three platinum grey pillows to start incorporating some grey into my bedding for our eventual move to the new scheme revealed in this inspiration board. Oh, and also because they were $6.99 each! To tie them in with my current bedding so that they would not look so disconnected, I decided to add a little blingy detail to one of the pillows.

I started with these:
The brooch I already had and the ribbon cost me a few buckaroos at Wal-Mart.

I wrapped the ribbon around the pillow and cut it with some excess so that I would be able to fold down the ends to avoid fraying. Once the folds were made and the placement was right, I pinned the ribbon using the brooch itself. And voilà! Why didn't I bother to sew the ribbon securely in place? It makes it temporary so I can easily change the ribbon to match any decor, or remove it all together with minimal damage to the fabric.

This is what the pillows look like on my bed now...

The side tables, lamp bases and a mirror in the room are also platinum grey, so the pillows are not the only grey in the room. I am also thinking of adding a grey ribbon to the lamp shades, but we'll see. I don't want to focus to much decorating-energy on the master bedroom as I know it will be changing very soon... (Can't wait! I picked up some purple color swatches last week and they are up on the wall...)

FUTURE POST TEASE: Look for a post about my DIY headboard shortly... I may also have guest posts by my Sisters who have made their own DIY headboards...

My post is linked to:
The DIY Show Off

The Girl Creative

March 9, 2011

Nico's Big Boy Room

I enjoyed making the inspiration board for our master bedroom so much, that I immediately turned around and started my inspiration board and floor plan for Nico's big boy room. I am quite excited to get these two rooms underway because we have been s-t-r-u-g-g-l-i-n-g with Nico who refuses to sleep in his own bed, and the whole family-bed / co-sleeping arrangement is just not working for us anymore... we are pooped!

Anyhow, back to Nico's big boy room. So, to briefly explain the switcheroo, our master will be moving into the current basement guest bedroom. In turn, Nico will get our current master with the queen size bed from the guestroom for his new big boy room. Get the gist? Before we can even think of moving Nico, we have to move ourselves out of the current master... It will be a long-ish process. But I can tell you that I have paint swatches on the wall in our new master, and when I showed them to Jon, he almost seemed willing to start painting that day! Sweet! So, he's on board!

Nico's current room is sweet, but, well, quite boring. When we moved in almost three years ago, his room had beige walls and blue carpet, which was quite suitable for a baby boy nursery. So, it stuck. I added some dark wood accents to match the crib, change table and rocking chair, and created some photo galleries and a few DIY decorating pieces.

It looked like this:

Ah! Look at how cute and tiny he was! My Mom made the curtains and matching bedskirt, the polka-dot bed sheet and the quilt on the wall. Obviously, his room has "grown" a bit since them. He now has a white single bed with drawers and a head board, that my Dad built for my niece Emma, and that we had been storing for my sister because they were not using it. The bed will be going back to them shortly for their son, Mathéo, who is Nico's age, at which point Nico will be upgrading to the queen bed.

Well, I am tired of beige and blue (that and Jon recently made the comment that our entire main floor, if not our entire house has a mostly blue color scheme... and he's right!). I want to add color... make that colors! Considering that Nico's big boy room will also become his play room, 1) because it is MASSIVE and 2) because I don't want toys all over the house anymore. I want his room to be kid friendly, bright and be able to grow with him.

Without further ado, here is my inspiration board:

You can't tell me you don't absolutely adore the moose accessories! So Northern-Ontario!

Here is the floor plan:

The only thing that will probably not get done immediately in his room is the built-ins. I would love to make them myself, but I lack the tools and experience. So, I would definitely need one of my Dads (well, Dad or Dad-in-law) to come help me with that when the time comes. But we'll see. If I do attempt them myself, I would definitely not make them from scratch. I may buy plain book shelves and add trim to make them look built-in. Then build the bench in between (I have ALWAYS wanted a window bench! ALWAYS!).

I can't wait to bring Nico with me to select paint swatches and I so look forward to the day when we can go to IKEA and purchase his things. In the meantime, we will continue trying to bribe him to sleep in his dull bedroom... Can't really blame the poor kid.

FUTURE POST TEASER: I made a few projects and finished my new/old desk last weekend, so will be posting those this week...

My post is linked to: