Knobby Upgrades (From The Sale Rack)

August 25, 2011   //  Posted in: Decor, Office Space   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

I wasn’t much bothered by the drawer pulls that were on the original Pier 1 dresser that I updated and shared with you earlier in the week, but once the fresh white coat was in place and the whole desk was reassembled, I began to wish for something different.

Something more colorful.

Something more like… oh, I don’t know… this?

New, blue, pretty drawer pull. Thank you Anthropologie.

It caught my at Anthropologie. Sale priced too, discounted to $2.95 from it’s original $8. And such a pretty bright color and heavy knob, I couldn’t pass it up for the cost; after all, my whole plan for the new office revolves around tossing pops of color in with neutral anchor pieces. I love them pops of color, and so the turquoise knob came home with me.

It was perfect for another reason as well; the original black metal hardware on the desk was affixed by not one, but two screws, meaning that if I didn’t have a new drawer pull with the same holes, I risked having the existing holes popping out visibly.

Measuring the placement of the holes from the existing desk hardware. Need to cover up that spacing behind the screws somehow.

The best part about the knob that I bought was that it had a wide metal base, so even though it was going to be a solitary-bolt attachment, the existing two holes should be totally hidden by the base. Even though I had measured before going to Anthropologie, I still wasn’t sure that the base would be quite wide enough, but decided that the risk was totally worth that almost $3.

I drilled a hole directly in the middle of the other two holes with a 11/64 drill bit, knowing that the previous drawer pull has been installed centered on the drawer.

New knob, new drilled hole, and can you tell where the wood had been protected by the previous drawer pull? Odd.

Fortunately, it all did line up and cover the previous holes, leaving me with a pretty new pop of color on my refinished desk drawer. If you’re wondering, the second tier of shelving won’t be reinstalled or refinished in any way to work with the new desktop; it’ll likely just sit in the attic, and what that means in terms of drawer pulls is that I really only did need to spend $3 on a single pull, instead of $9 on a set of three.

Desk, with the new knob.

Ooh, shiny desk. New knob. Pop of color.

Pretty pretty.

You might have noticed in the first photo that there was a second set of knobs in the background.

More knobbies. These ones envisioned for use on the IKEA shelving unit that remained in the office.

Also recovered from the sale bin at Anthropologie, I bought them for $3.95 each on a whim thinking that they would be good, solid knobs for the IKEA shelving unit that we’re keeping in the room for concealed storage (plus, they were originally $14 each!). The current knobs are just wooden pegs, and while they’re totally functional, I wasn’t opposed to an upgrade when I laid my eyes on those colorful, bubbly model.

Existing knobs on the IKEA shelving. Uneven! Blasphemy.

Also, as you can tell those knobbies are uneven as could be. It’s not so apparent until you’re hovering at their level (around knee-height) and photographing them, but I thought the more ornate knobs would distract from the unevenness better than something sleek that needs to align in an exacting way.

New knob on one side. Looking more even already. Deception at its finest.

The shelving unit itself will eventually get an office overhaul to better vibe with the space (the laminate just isn’t cutting it anymore), but that’s another project for a day down the road. For now, the installed knobs help to make the existing uneven holes a little more aligned, while adding a nice extra hoo-hah to the neutral cabinetry.

I should also note that it looks like the knobs/doors would bonk into the opposite knob, but they don’t for the most part. That isn’t to say that there’s a lot of clearance, but they definitely allow the shelving doors to open and close easily.

Updated knobs. Nope, they don't bonk against either either... the doors on the shelving remain fully functional.

I’d say not too bad, considering that the original cost of the 3 pulls would have exceeded $36 with taxes and I paid just under $12 total. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, almost all great Anthropologie knobs go on sale at some point, and at any point in time there’s usually a fine selection to choose from.

And if you’re wondering how my organization is coming along… it’s getting there. For the purposes of taking some of these updated photos in a cleared setting though, I did shove the remaining odds and ends off to the corner. The closet door won’t even close because it’s so jam packed with assorted stuff.

Clean up in progress.

Aaand, it’s probably time to get rid of some shoes. Work in progress. More to come.

Mexicana Infusion

August 24, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, Decor   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

Two weeks ago today we were leaving Mexico. During our 3-night stay (that you can read about over here), we did spend one morning off the resort exploring Playa Del Carmen. The town itself a great tourist trap, and not surprisingly, where we made the bulk of our souvenir purchases.

Oh look. Just me sweating my butt off at the puerto. Note to the ladies: loose cotton shift dress from J.Crew. Will not cling. The pattern will not show sweat. Makes humidity bearable.

Heading down to the beach at Playa del Carmen.

It should come to no surprise that I was looking for bargains and limited by suitcase space (we shared a single carry-on to avoid the whole checking-bags headache). Before leaving, I had wild mexican dreams of bringing home a few phenomenally embroidered tapestries like these, although I knew they would be expensive. Would have made a nice throw, or a pop of color as a bed coverlet, right? Maybe next time.

Colorful tapestries in Playa del Carmen.

During our walk up and down 5th avenue, the main touristy strip of PDC, pile of textiles outside one of the shops caught my eye (and were without a doubt within my budget, marked in a sale pile for $4 USD). We inspected few of the products (sized like a 3’x5′ carpet) trying to figure out if they were intended to be. Wall decor? For floor use? Blankets? Wearable wools? All of those things? We’re clearly not seasoned mexican travelers or well-exposed to authentic materials. In any case, our mind went to making the textile floorable, so I bought one in a blue/gray woven knit to use as an accent piece in our bedroom, where it’s happily already taken up residence. That wrinkly, wrinkly bed.

Hint of mexicana. Not sure if it's really a rug, but it is for us.

You see, the big reason it’s in there is because after the great bed switch, the beloved West Elm Pebble Rug was providing less coverage than it had been. Mostly, this was due to the size of the queen bed, because we really loved the carpet and wanted to optimize how much of it was showing in the room. So while the rug runs along the whole front of the bed and part of each side, not so much shown in these pictures, we had a small space to fill between it and the dresser right about where my feet land on the wood floor every morning.

How about a close-up of the overlapping West Elm Pebble Rug and Mexican "rug"?

It’s not a problem in this summer heat, but during the winter I do favor stepping onto something cushy and not cold and hard, so I had been on the lookout for something that would complement the existing pebble rug that I still love so much. Similar colors, different texture, different patterns, and this winning Mexican textile is all of that. It’s a nice mix of modern and classically-authentic (we think) when pulled together, so on the floor it will stay.

The carpet width was also ideal for the tight gap between the dresser and box spring, so the edges do tuck securely underneath both pieces of furniture (score!) so that the lightweight weave (which really does need a carpet pad) doesn’t move around very much or wrinkle underfoot. Yes, there are still some creases from the original folds. I’m thinking that should have been ironed first.

Fits perfectly between the IKEA dresser and bed.

Having only spent $4 on my “carpet,” I allowed myself a second souvineer, of course, it was not (and still is not) seasonably appropriate, nor does it remind me highly of Mexico because I know I have a similar one from Gap circa 2001, but it’s a big wool scarf. And I’m a girl who likes scarves.

Or was it narrow carpet runner. Or towel? Honestly, not totally sure, but I started sweating .5 seconds after draping this thing around myself in the store. Seems scarfy to me. Pendleton scarfy.

Hanging scarf. Is it a scarf?

Scarf-y texture.

Humidity + Mexico + Wool = not pleasant, but I thought it would be great in NY during the 6-month season of chill. It was only $9 USD, and I further justified the spend by deciding that I couldn’t put a textile I sweated on that much back on the rack.

Added bonus: Very cozy.

Scarf? Yes, it'll work as a scarf.

Additionally, and you already saw this, we picked up an ornament for our Christmas tree, since I’ve always liked a tree covered in brightly colored, memory-inducing treasures. I’m especially fond of the sparkle.

Mexico ornament, 2011.

Lovely Mexican Ornament. Sparkles.

Not that I’ve done an extensive online search yet, but I’m sure most of these items are also available directly from the sources (or the popular wholesalers like who were infused into each of the Playa del Carmen shops). While not direct, Sunshine Yoga showed up in one of my early searches, promoting their similar products as mexican blankets (totally not rugs), and as much as I’d love to directly fuel the mexican economy, these hammocks sold via The Mexican Hammock Company in the UK are pretty.

If anyone has recommendations for wholesalers and online shops native to Mexico, please, please leave a comment with more info

Office Progress: Refinishing A Desk

August 23, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Office Space   //  By: Emily   //  12 responses

Office Reno 2011 has kicked-off. Yesterday, you saw the fresh coat of paint. Next up?

I’m on a mission to refinish a Pier 1 desk that has been moving around with me since 1998.

Its simple design was never too out-of-place in all of the apartments and homes I’ve lived in, and its undeniable functionality has always come in handy. Lately though, it’s been a good surface for accumulating junk. The built-in drawer in the front is spacious, and an optional second tier of storage can be installed to extend across the back of the desk, something that I’ve intermittently swapped on and off. It’s sturdy, solid wood, but hasn’t been used as a formal workspace in a long while.

Guest room tornado.

To give you a better sense of what it actually looked like, I found this picture from earlier in the year when I had it squeezed into another room, serving no purpose but collecting dust and dog fur around its legs.

The guest room, filled with nothing that would permit me to have house guests.

My plan of attack involved removing the second tier of storage, and refinishing part of the desk with a glossy, fresh coat of paint. The biggest decision I had to make was whether I should paint the frame white, and leave the top of the desk natural wood, or do just the opposite, leaving the legs and frame natural, and giving myself a new glossy work surface.

I wanted to transform it. Less Pier 1, more CB2. At least migrate it’s design in that direction, at least.

Not that I have nothing against Pier 1, this old piece just needed an pick-me-up.

Disassembling the desk to prep for painting.

Messy room, yes, but it’s organized chaos. Everything will have a home when I’m through.

Going with my gut, I leaned towards painting the top. Main reason being because over time, careless spills and condensation had caused a few watermarks to imperfect the surface of the wood visually. Having removed it from the base, I set up my painting workshop in the sunroom. In there, I was guaranteed sufficient ventilation with shelter from potential rain. Note the mild discolorations:

Note: Mild rings and splatters from encounters with wetness.

Because most of my rollers had been used several times each already, and I wanted to work with brand new clean tools to help provide a great result, I splurged on a set of new 6″ high density foam rollers for the job.

Ultra Smooth High Density Foam Rollers.

While they were clearly categorized as the “BETTER” rollers in the good-better-best sequencing at Home Depot, I was more confident that I’d achieve a sleek, blemish-free paint surface with the high-density foam instead of the “BEST” premium microfiber rollers. I bought some of those rollers last winter when I got busy painting the open kitchen shelves, and while the paint did apply smoothly, I recalled the roller getting bogged with paint and not rolling perfectly at times.

The foam rollers claimed to be best suited for gloss paints and smooth surfaces, which was the real seller for me. The hardwood surface was already very smooth – Smoother even than my Pier 1 laminate dining room table. Great writing surface, although a softer wood than you’d want to be writing on all day long. To prep, I went over the desktop with a medium sandpaper to create a better surface for the first coat, the primer, to adhere to.

Because it was a natural wood surface, I used a basic primer that I generally use on walls. If it had been a laminate surface or melamine (like most IKEA finishes), I would have splurged on a high-adhesion primer.

Steps 1 and 2: Sanded, and primed the desktop.

My research indicated that oil-based paint was a must-have for furniture of this type; latex would have remained tacky and peeled up with use, and considering it was going to be a heavily used, banged against, surface with a purpose, the $9 cost of a quart of the glossy white Rustoleum paint (the same kind of paint that I used when I painted the radiator) was totally worth it.

The first coat of paint went on after the primer was dry; the high-density foam roller made the first coat thin, smooth, and even. I planned all along on doing 2-3 coats to ensure a perfectly smooth, even coat, and doing so required me to allow the paint to dry a minimum of 12-hours between each coat. Tick, tock. Yes, this took several days to complete.

It was fantastically glossy after the second coat.

Glossy desktop after the second coat of paint.

To even out any inevitable drips, which mostly happened along the edges where I was also painting the edges of the desktop, I very lightly sanded the entire paint surface inbetween each of the three coats (yes, I went back in for a third and it was worth it). Very shiny, very smooth.

New, painted, closer to CB2 desk.

The rest of the office is still coming together, hence the limited photos of the desk in space (who really wants to look at more pictures with all of my junk smooshed against a wall?).

In any case, the desk progress already makes a big impact and helps me begin to see the overall plan beginning to take effect.