DIY Network: Tiny Yard Tips

May 03, 2012   //  Posted in: Backyard, Curb Appeal, DIY, DIY Network Projects, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

I preface this with a very upfront “I’m No Landscaper” disclosure, but my little 1/10th-acre lot is a great place to start learning the landscaping essentials without getting totally, whole-heartedly, and robustly overwhelmed. I can mow the whole yard 20 minutes flat, I can drop $20 and have the whole front yard sufficiently mulched, and I’ve been able to keep up with other regular upkeep by workin’ the 5 tips that I outline in today’s post on DIY Network.

First signs of springtime, a happy sight. Not so happy, the mulchy leaves from fall, but they did their job.

Go check it out for yourself, and add to my little list. There are plenty of good easy-to-do tips out there for the common homeowner!


Behind Closed Bi-fold Doors

May 02, 2012   //  Posted in: Closets, Organized, Stairwell   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

I’ve briefed you on this situation before. On any given day, the possibility of the linen closet explosion knocking you down the stairs was 8-in-10. The contents within were crammed like a clown car, and there were many days when a-blind reach into the darkness could not yield a pillowcase or dust rag.

Closet disaster, revealed.

After I made some adjustments to the door frame and installed a new and fully-operational bi-fold door, there were no excuses keeping me from taming the wildness that had been slowly gathering in this closet over the last few years. Eagerly, I stripped it clear and assessed the situation; I can’t recall if I had slapped a fresh coat of white on the inside when I moved in, but there’s an completely equal chance that I didn’t do as much as spray it down with Lysol. In any case, the closet was a bit ragged. More ragged than you’d expect a closet that stored rags to be, anyways.

There we have it, a stark naked linen closet.

First things first, with the racks removed, I cleaned the space and started planning a hand-painted stripe design. By using paint from my own basement stash, I managed to complete this update for $0.00, and in just a day with no excessive trips to and from the store. And by using paint that already flows cohesively through the house (Behr Summer Field, shown as the upper half of the living room), it was an easy win in keeping with the defined color palette.

Hand painting the stripes in the closet meant fully embracing the soft edges and streaky effect left by the 3″ paint brush, while trying to reach the point where it looked neat and intentional and not like I gave a child the paint brush and turned my back. With the first wall, I spaced out some pieces of painters tape that were level to give me some sort of guide line (for similar reason that I did this with the painted pillow cases, just so my natural motions didn’t leave me with curved lines like when you write on unruled paper). It worked well. I didn’t have a specific line width and spacing planned when I started, I just followed what felt right after the first few lines, and was happy with the overall organization.

As I moved onto the second wall, I penciled off level lines from the already-painted stripes so that they would wrap fluidly around the wall.

I used tape to help mark out level lines initially.

Painting with the brush and avoiding paint trays and rollers made it a really quick and neat process. Because the linen closet had been built so the base had several tiers, I comfortably sat inside and had all of the stripes done within an hour. With the door partially closed, I’m told I looked like I was in a confession chamber. And Cody had no idea where my voice was coming from, which made for hysterical howling and him running up and down the stairs past me during the entire project.

Confessional or closet painting?

With all three walls painted, I left the tiered base white. It cleaned up pretty well, so I left it to dry overnight.

Cleaned, shiny, ready to be refilled.

The coated metal racks I never really liked for no good reason other than that they’re not especially pretty, common, and expected; I had immediately planned to lose them all together and replace with some stained 1×12 boards, but in trial, I didn’t really like the way the stained shelves were looking so I ditched the plan. Back in went the metal shelves, although note that instead of creating really deep shelves like what was there originally, I only replaced the shelves that rested along the back half of the closet, leaving more open space in the front. Immediately, it was apparent that reaching into the depths of the closet for a beach towel or painters cloth would be dramatically less dramatic, while still giving us plenty of room to stack our linens. I guess sometimes it’s about limiting how much space you give yourself to store clutter?

Hand painted striped closet.

When it came right down to organizing the contents back into place, I followed some advice and donated a whopping 1/3 of our junk towel stash to a local animal shelter (that’s two paper garbage bags full). Considering further that much of the time we’re using rags and painting cloths in the basement, I moved another 1/3 of the towels into a bin in the basement so they were more handy, leaving the final 1/3 in the best condition to be stored upstairs. Most often, the little towels are used for dusting and the big ones are used for drying off wet dog feet, so we didn’t actually feel like we needed to have 45 on hand anymore.

All of the linens went back in, and I even still had room for our three bigger beach towels and the 4 seat cushions that I remember to put on the outdoor patio chairs from time to time. Things like Pete’s Carhart suit, a random unused kite, and a few table cloths that I’ve never once draped went into a trunk in the attic where they can stay nice and dry and accessible, but totally out of the way.

Perhaps the best outcome of this reorg is that I still had some leftover room for cleaning supplies and toiletries. The cleaning supplies, previously stored beneath the bathroom vanity, and in two kitchen cabinets came together simply and can rest out of child’s reach on the top shelf of the closet. The toilet paper and excessive boxes of tissues (I had a coupon) fit along the bottom shelf of the closet, accessible to all, and thankfully clearing them out of the guest room’s closet. Because there’s nothing like waking your guests up at 7AM when you need a new roll.

Oh, I'm so happy to be organized.

When you look into the closet straight on like in that above photo, you don’t really get a taste of the hand painted stripes. But they’re still there, and very visible when you’re glancing in to either side of the space. Voila.

Oh, I'm so happy to be organized.

I know everyone’s in full-on spring cleaning fever, so what have you been plowing through this week?

A Lighter Way (For $10)

May 01, 2012   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, Living Room, Windows   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

With almost as much eagerness as when I had stripped the felt covers off the living room pillows, I updated the sunroom door curtain over the weekend. The heavy felt roman shade did a fine job insulating the main house from the totally-uninsulated-basically-outside sunroom, and looked great all winter long. Its construction and installation was my first project for DIY Network, and I actually felt a little sad about taking it down, but it retained it’s shape and form so well that it’s likely to go up again come fall.

Roman shading to the max. A great addition to my living room (and relief to my winter heating bill).

This is actually the third post pertaining to wrappin’ up the sunroom door, and viewing the series makes for a nice way to see how the room has evolved over the last 14 months. The photo above was from last November, and right here you can see my first iteration, from February 2011.

But for now, onward with something lighter. I really only insist on keeping a curtain of some sort over the door because at night with the lights on indoors, anyone could see inside from the street and we like our privacy (slash, I don’t need my neighbors to see what really lame TV I tune into, it’d be embarrassing). Because so many of the fabrics in the room are opaque and have substance, I was avoiding something that was sheer but hoping to find something substantial, but still light and breezy. Something more summery. Something Khaki?

To keep my new found love for twills flowing, I returned to JoAnn’s for more fabric while the heavy-weight cottons that I had also used for the new pillows were still 50% off. Sometimes I’m not so lucky with the amount of fabric on the bolt, but this time the fabric was plentiful and I bought 3.5 yards of this off-white 54″W material for just $14. I can’t confirm the manufacturer’s name, and don’t actually believe that the sale is still on, but if you’re going to go source your own, pay particular mention to the width of the fabric on the bolt; this brand had numerous widths all priced exactly the same, so I went with the widest option available.

Ivory cotton for the living room curtain.

Out with the felt, in with the ivory with the help of a few quick bronze curtain clips. (FYI, the clips, I already owned, but if you’re looking to buy your own I really like and recommend the 14-packs sold at Walmart for $3, same as shown in this post. Can’t beat that price).

Because it’s the same curtain rod up there too, it was just a matter of sliding the new clips onto the rod, and voila, it’s a room update that’s as easy as can be. And wow, our living room is bright again.

Simple curtain clips, bronze from Walmart.

Always a-howlin'.

One thing you can’t see in the above picture, blocked by the howling beast, is an extra yard of fabric. I’m a bad judge of ceiling height and my 3.5 yard purchase was much more than I actually needed in order to achieve the look of a full-length curtain (I should keep these measurements with me, but in the store on the cutting table 2.5 yards seemed deceivingly short). With a quick snip-snip,  I took a full yard off the bottom to neaten up the way it hung, ironed out some creases, and rehung it. If you want to do a little recalc at this point, the fabric that I actually used only would have totalled 10-buckeroos if not for the overage. Good deal. And you know that the scrap will find its way into a future project.

Instant improvement. I cleared both the dog and that wicker chair this time so you can see how it just barely grazes the floor. And you can’t tell so much in the photos, but I even lightly hemmed the base with a quick sew using the dark gold thread I used on the pillows too. Minimally noticeable, very subtle infusion of color.

Shortened curtain, happy sunroom door.

Pulled open, it successfully covers the downward hanging wire from the pendant light I made a few months ago; the light, we still love and use most nights, but the exposed white cord still irks me unnecessarily. It’s nice that now I have the option of keeping it disguised during the day, but it’s no masterful decoy, you and I still know it’s there (taunting me).

Blocking the downward hanging pendant cord, still classing up the joint.

Ooh, and that 2×3 carpet? It’s the newbie I bought a few months ago from West Elm. It’s found a happy home leading into the sunroom, doing it’s thing, acting all woven and pretty.

West Elm rug.

Everything’s right at home, and it feels good to have some warm weather again.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who entered Pete and Marty’s giveaway for the rechargeable lawn mower; they shockingly haven’t heard from the winner yet. Check your email (and spam folders) people!