Category Archives: DIY

Apartment Therapy January Cure: Day 1

When my friend Lindsay introduced me to Apartment Therapy in college, I fell in love. The two of us would sit around looking at pictures of beautiful houses and apartments, imagining what our places would look like when we weren’t so gross and college-like. It was like moving out of Worcester would magically make us cleaner and more organized and better at life. Yeah. Right.

Okay, so I guess it worked a little bit. When we bought our house, I was OBSESSED with AT, oogling house tours, picking paint colors, planning full-on demolitions of our house. While some of the ideas actually made it into our house (blue dining room! painted chandelier!), most of them were (and still are) pipe dreams. Over the past few months, I’ve become (slightly) more realistic about our space, our budget, and what will and won’t work. I’ve also come to terms with “our style” and how that compares to “what is correct according to interior designers” and “what is popular” (they’re often not the same). But guess what! It’s our house! We’ll do what we want!

I actually read an article on there once about how you shouldn’t put family pictures and personal artifacts on the first floor. Because no one wants to look at pictures of your kids and dogs and family vacations. Funny, because I’m pretty sure that I live in my house and I’ll spend more time there than any guest ever would. And if I want to look at pictures of me and Jesse frolicking through concrete corn fields during our first road trip, then I sure as hell am going to do that.

Other than articles like that, AT is pretty great. This year, I noticed they’re doing this thing called January Cure. From what I gather, it’s a way of getting the year off to a good start, getting your house in order for the upcoming year. Since we’re finally settling in to the house and things are generally where we want them to be, I thought this would be a fun project to tackle. Also, it is winter and I have a really hard time staying motivated in the winter, and every little project helps!

Day 1 of the January Cure is Make a List of Projects! I love lists. I also love lists of things that I will never accomplish. Dishes I want to cook. Cakes I want to make. Places I want to visit. Things that need to be fixed in the house. Things I want to do in the house. Trust me, I am AWESOME at making lists. The best thing about Day 1? They tell you not to do anything! Just make a list! That is totally doable.

To make the list, you are advised to walk through each room in the house, making notes on any trouble spots organized by room. Note each area or item that needs a good cleaning, a de-cluttering or a re-organization. Then, go through the list and pick 3-5 things from each room as main focus points.

That’s it!

Walking through our house produced nothing that was unexpected. Everything on my list are things that I was planning on tackling over the next month or two anyway, so we’re all good!

Here’s my list:

PORCH

  • Wash floor and windows
  • Remove junk
  • Get a shoe rack
  • Paint it white
  • New front door
  • New light fixture

KITCHEN

  • Shelves for over table
  • Organize junk drawer
  • Get trash into a cabinet
  • Organize drawers and cabinets
  • Curtain over sink
  • New light fixtures

BATHROOM

  • Paint
  • Find a new mirror
  • Change hardware
  • New light fixture
  • Get a new bathroom rug & shower curtain

DINING ROOM

  • Build table and benches
  • Shelves
  • Finish curtains
  • Find new shades

LIVING ROOM

  • Paint
  • Rug
  • Ottoman
  • Hang artwork behind couch
  • New shades

HALLWAY & STAIRWELL

  • Paint
  • Hang pictures
  • New light fixtures

OFFICE

  • Rug
  • Chair
  • Curtains/shades
  • Get pictures off of the floor and onto the walls
  • New light fixture

SPARE BEDROOM

  • Make it more like a bedroom and less like storage
  • New lights

OUR BEDROOM

  • New dresser for Jesse
  • Rug
  • Paint
  • Space heater
  • Hang things on walls
  • New sheets
  • New light fixture

The awesome thing about this list is that every item on it is doable, just not in the month of January. These are all things that need to get done, at some point or another. The crossed-out items will have to wait until time, money, and weather allow, but everything else? I think I can do it!

The rooms I’m the most focused on are the living room and the bedroom. The office, if I have to, is completely off the list. Same goes for the spare bedroom (the only person who has been sleeping over is Jess, and she’s all about our couch). Now all I need is a little bit of motivation and a whole bunch of beer.

Getting Things Done

It’s sort of ridiculous how quickly three months go by. One second, I’m super psyched on this blog and silly DIY projects. The next, Christmas is over and we still don’t have an assembled futon in the spare bedroom. It’d be easy to sit here and complain about how we’ve gotten nothing done, about how all of the rooms look relatively the same, and about how many more things we have to do to make the house feel more like ours and less like an apartment that we’ve been renting for five months. I’m not going to do that, though! Because we’ve made a small amount of progress! And we’ve done what we can afford! And time goes by TOO FAST and the work days are too long and suddenly it’s Christmas and it’s snowing and it is impossible to do anything without my poor little fingers freezing off.

So what have we been busy with around the Schloss? First off, we got this little guy in October:Roland

Jesse found him on a park bench near where he works on one of the coldest nights in October. Naturally, we took the little guy in, got him checked out, tried to find him a home, and ended up keeping him despite our older cat, Bean, hating him. Roland has toughed it out, though. He’s doubled in size since October and just this morning, I caught the two of them sleeping on our bed suspiciously close to one another.

Speaking of beds, we also got one of those! I’d show a picture, but our bedroom is, unfortunately, not a room we’ve made any progress in. However, we bought an awesome frame from Boston Interiors. Having the mattress off of the floor made it feel a lot more like we were living in a house and less like we were crashing on some buddy’s mattress on the floor of some college apartment. Let’s hear it for adulthood!

Adulthood has also brought us other money-sucking endeavors, such as wisdom teeth removal, new tires for Jesse’s car, and astronomically high oil bills. These necessary but totally-not-fun things have prevented us from buying things like rugs, pillows, paint, curtains, and other way-more-fun things, but that’s okay. We’ve had the money to buy lots of awesome beer, so that’s really what matters. Priorities.

Despite how it sounds, we have made some progress on some rooms! Let me introduce the project I am THE MOST PROUD OF. Ready?? Drumroll….

TA DA! CD SHELVES!

CD Shelves IMG_7415

This project took far longer to complete than I would like to admit, but I did all of the sanding, staining, and installation on my own while Jesse was at band practice. Gotta be productive, right? It’s hard to grasp the size of the shelves in these photos (my wide-angle lens is sadly out of commission for the time being), but the longer shelves span the length of one wall while the shorter shelves go from the corner to the window. For the longer shelves, I mounted two of the brackets to studs and used toggle bolts for the middle bracket. This is the first time I’ve drilled a 5/8″ hole through ANYTHING, so it was terrifying and AWESOME at the same time. Everything went (relatively) smoothly. A co-worker let me borrow his sander after I tried sanding one single shelf by hand (never again). The stain came out EXACTLY as we imagined it. And! The shelves hold all of Jesse’s CDs! And they haven’t fallen off of the wall yet! Success! IMG_7414 IMG_7412

Before the shelves were installed, the office received a fresh coat of WHITE paint (not Contractor’s Off White). We also bought a new desk from Ikea and hung things on the walls! It amazes me how pictures on the walls make a room feel instantly more homey.

IMG_7367 IMG_7401

For this room, there isn’t much left! I want to replace the mini-blinds with something more exciting, probably some homemade Roman shades with some funky fabric. As much as I like the white walls, this room needs some serious color. Stark just ain’t my thing.

IMG_7402 IMG_7404 IMG_7394

So what’s in store for the new year? PAINT. Everything is getting painted. The hallway, the bedroom, the living room, the bathroom. I can’t even start thinking beyond that right now, mostly because we don’t really have the cash to do anything bigger than that, and because I can’t get ahead of myself.

We also need rugs. My feet are cold.

As for this here blog? Maybe more frequent updates? Except before we know it, it’ll be March and the snow will be melting and I’ll have to start planning my garden. That’s fine with me…

Brass-Be-Gone: One Down, 1546 to Go!

One of the things that we, and everyone we know, immediately noticed about our house is the higher-than-average number of brass fixtures. One in the bathroom. An awesome chandelier in the dining room. The ceiling fan in the living room. The sconces in all of the bedrooms and the hallway. The ceiling fan in the bedroom. The fixture in the attic.

From my understanding, these hideously ugly things were popular at some point. What’s even more amazing, is that they still sell these sorts of things in stores, meaning people still buy them. I can’t imagine why.

Because of the number of fixtures around the house, and the desire to tackle other projects before replacing every piece of brass in the place, I came to terms with the fact that we’d have to live with the brass and all of its shiny goodness for an indefinite amount of time… Until we painted the dining room. There’s something about a fresh coat of awesome blue paint to make a hideously ugly brass and glass fixture seem MORE out of place.

On Saturday, I decided things needed to change.

(Note: The picture above was actually taken before I decided to pull the chandelier down. I lightly poked at the top part, and the entire thing popped off. It was fate that the stupid thing needed to be pulled down.)

Jesse had plans to head to Providence to play with a new band. I had no plans… a perfect situation for spray-painting a chandelier! Before Jesse left, he gave me a hand with taking the chandelier off of the ceiling. Two screws and some un-wiring (after the power to the room was turned off, obviously) later, the chandelier was on the floor and ready to be disassembled. Jesse was concerned that we wouldn’t find a new chandelier before dark (I’m picky. And cheap), and when I told him the old one was going back up, he looked at me like I had three heads. Eventually I convinced him to trust me, without revealing my plan. He couldn’t dissuade me!

Diassembling the chandelier wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. I had to undo one of the chain links to get the top part off, but everything came apart pretty easily after that. (Note: When doing this, keep track of what piece goes where. I didn’t. Re-assembly was a little more challenging because of this. Oh well, live and learn.) To the garage! I laid a plastic dropcloth over the garage floor to protect it from spray paint distruction, opened the garage door, and went to town.

I wish I could say that everything went perfectly smooth from start to finish. It didn’t. I made a few mistakes:

Mistake #1: Using a plastic drop cloth. Spray paint sticks to plastic drop cloths, which makes the items you’re spray painting stick to plastic drop cloth. Whoops.

Mistake #2: Not properly weighing down the plastic drop cloth. It was windy on Saturday, and even though I was in the garage, the wind was blowing right through it. This meant the stupid drop cloth blew up and stuck to my freshly painted chandelier. Meh.

Mistake #3: Holding pieces while touching up the paint. Spray paint DOES NOT like to come off of hands. I should have warn gloves. Lesson learned.

For the paint, I used Rustoleum in Satin Black. I definitely wanted black, but I didn’t want it to be glaringly shiny. The brass was shiny enough. I sprayed one coat on all of the pieces, waited about 45 min, then applied a second coat. I let the chandelier sit out in the garage for about 2 hours before I went and checked on it. I have a habit of poking at things too early, so I let it sit out without even looking at it. This was NOT a mistake! Even after two hours, most of the pieces were still tacky. I touched up thin spots on a lot of the pieces, moved them all OFF of the stupid drop cloth, and left them to dry overnight.

Once everything was dry, I reassembled the chandelier and Jesse and I reattached it to the ceiling, screwed in my new bulbs (round white >> fake plastic candle bulbs), and restored the power to the room.

Voila!

There were a few spots on the chain and on one of the upper pieces where the paint had rubbed off. I didn’t degloss the thing before spraying, and I didn’t prime, so I sort of expected that there would be spots that weren’t perfect. I touched up those blemishes with a sharpie. You can’t even tell. Success!

So, do we love it? It’s alright. It looks good (from far away, and in the dark), and it looks a MILLION times better than the ugly brass beast, but it’s not what I would have chosen if we had gone to the store and picked something out. But, for the time being, it’ll be great. Mostly because it was cheap.

Now I have the spray paint bug. I have a bunch of old, cheap frames that are going to get a dose of white paint tomorrow afternoon. Then I will FINALLY get some pictures up on the walls.