Saturday, August 29, 2015

All Knit Everything...

It's no secret that we are embarking on my FAVORITE time: September to December.  The best four months of the entire calendar year!!!!  Hey, I like to be cold.  Messengers have lived in New England since 1637, so I think the cold Northeast air is in my bones.

There is almost nothing I love more than sweater weather.  And speaking of sweaters, I was perusing the October issue of Country Living Magazine which showed up in my mailbox yesterday, and they featured a red, knit inspired teapot from Yedi Housewares.   And that got me thinking about all the things I have loved over the years that are knit or cable knit inspired.

Their Red collection is entitled "Sweater" and I adore all of it:  It turns out it also comes in Blue, White, and Taupe so there is something for everyone's color taste.

Yedi Housewares Sweater Collection

And then, after I looked up the red teapot, I found all of this!  I wish that cake plate especially would find its way into one of my cupboards.  (Cake Platter, $49.99)   This collection is entitled "Matte Sweater" and it's a bit daintier and is featured in Baby Blue or Eggshell White.

Yedi Housewares Matte Sweater Collection

On my lengthy cold weather to do list is to make a few sweater throw pillow covers.  I love the idea of putting out sweater pillows for fall to winter, because they are sort of generically winter themed and won't need to be put away at Christmas.  Plus they would be comfortable: Micah is not a fan of some of my twill decorative pillow covers because he likes to use a soft pillow.  I plan to mine our thrift shop and maybe Goodwill for some fun finds to accomplish this.  But in the meantime, here is some inspiration for you.  Winter is coming!  Get your home ready.

I think this woman's tutorial for sewing sweater pillows is excellent, plus her tip for lining the pillows with another fabric so they hold their shape and don't look all wonky and squooshed seems genius.  I could have seen myself making that same mistake initially if I hadn't read her post.  Cami blogs at Tidbits, and I found her tutorial via Pinterest (of course).  Follow the link to her website in the caption! 

Repurposed Sweater Pillow Tutorial, Tidbits blog

This votive pair from Partylite has always been a favorite of mine, but for some reason, I just never got around to buying it.  Probably because my home is already overflowing with candle stuff and I have to get rid of some before I can get more.  But I just got the newsletter in my email from my candle lady Julie, and noticed that this pair is in their Clearance Outlet (marked down from $30 original price to $8.10, which is an insane steal!  The link to buy this from my candle lady Julie is under the photo.   If you are interested, hurry, because these will disappear soon.

Partylite Cable Knit Pair

I found these coasters on Pinterest, and it took me awhile to find the original maker, but I did it.  Her name is Alyssa Ettinger, and unfortunately her shop is closed for now, but she still maintains a website with a link to her knitware line!  It's gorgeous: I hope she starts making it again in the near future.  

Alyssa Ettinger Design
Alyssa Ettinger Design

This spread in Country Living caught my eye a long time ago.  I can't remember what issue it was featured in (maybe their winter white issue in 2014) but they still feature this on the website.  So, I tracked down the artist who creates this line, and it is Danielle Spector of Reshape Studio...

Now technically, these look woven, but Country Living included them as part of their knit home décor article, so I am going to say they count!  I love this idea for storing wood next to the fireplace, or for kindling/newspaper next to the fireplace.  I am toying with the idea of crocheting some large baskets like this for that exact purpose.  Apparently these were originally sold as part of the Robert Ogden for Lostine line, but they are no longer for sale on their website that I can find.

Last, but certainly not least, why not cozy up your fall decorations by trying your hand at this awesome Finger Knit Wreath (follow the link to get the pattern) or this fabulous idea to repurpose old sweaters into home décor pumpkins. 

Old Fashioned Living Finger Knit Wreath Pattern

Homeward Found Decor Sweet Sweater Pumpkin Tutorial
I think these pumpkins are so cute.  They are the product of a woman named Deb at Homeward Found Décor, so follow the link in the caption above for her instructions / tutorial.  It's a great tutorial with many pictures.  I may give it a try myself. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Adventures in Hutch Painting

This hutch came to our family for free, and I still maintain that some of the best finds are in fact, free.  A friend of my stepfather's was moving and he no longer had room for this, so my mother inherited it.  And I'm thankful she did, as I've been staring at it for years and seeing the potential for something very elegant beneath that fake wood veneer exterior.

If it had not been for the Zinsser BIN shellac primer my friend Marty gave me, this project would not have been a success.  While the hutch was a solid wood base, it had a laminate overlay on the main shelf plus veneered sides and trim.  And I know from experience (the ultimate failure of my latex paint job on my teenage dresser / nightstand set) that without more tooth for the paint to stick to, it would not be easy to paint over those materials.   So, I recommend it for painting over anything with a plastic or poly-urethaned surface.  BIN, you have my enthusiastic endorsement.  I can't wait to try it when I redo said dresser and nightstand. 

Anyway, here are some pictures of the process I went through.  Of course, a thorough cleaning and disassembling of the doors and drawer was key before I began priming. 

If you do use the BIN, know this: it might not be what you are expecting.  It is very liquid and it dries extremely fast.  So, by the time you are brushing on the water like substance, when it touches the wood surface it nearly immediately turns to the consistency of glue.  It was a rather drippy and time consuming process to cover the entire piece.  Marty recommends lighter coats of both paint and the primer and I agree.  You will get better adhesion and it will be more likely to NOT peel off if you use a lighter touch when applying your paints, stains and primers.  I have also learned this the hard way.  Globbing on the paint will result in a thick peeling surface later.   So, be sparing with the primer.  But act quickly as it's not easy to spread around once it starts to get gluey.  Just coat your surface and let it soak in.

 I let the BIN dry overnight before I began applying the Chalk Paint. Technically you don't have to wait that long: the Zinsser website says it sets up in 45 minutes and I believe that based on how quickly it was drying as I applied.  I used the Folk Art brand again, in Rich Black.  I bought my chalk paint at Jo-Ann's Fabrics.  Michael's may carry it too.    I bought the 16 oz size which costs $13.99.  I ended up needing 1 and a half containers, so buy two for a project of this size.

And then I got to work on the first coat.  As always, I was finishing the first coat late at night and it looked great.  But I ran out of the first container and had to wait until the next day to hop over to the store and get a second to do the finishing touches.  So, I took that opportunity to start spray painting hardware on the sidewalk in the middle of the night.  Yup, that's how I roll.  By the way, I just used Rustoleum in Satin Black to repaint the brass hardware.  I love old hardware.  I wouldn't replace old hardware unless it was very ugly.  Besides, it's difficult to fit new hardware on older furniture.  The spacing of the holes on hardware is not always standard and you don't want to destroy something by having to drill new holes.

you can't see this because it's dark (hardware before)

guess what: it's still nighttime and you can't see the finished product either

still nighttime, but you get the picture: you can get this at almost any hardware store

And of course, the harsh light of day revealed that I had a ton more work to do on the cabinet itself.  Our dining room is very dark as it is, thanks to the beautiful but light blocking Craftsman woodwork.  And so, I got to work touching up the piece.    And then I thought it was finished.  It looked beautiful.  Until I decided to ruin it with matte varnish.

at the point where I "thought" I was done
So, I painted every shelf surface only with matte varnish.  I used a roller and it looked like it went on smoothly.  I have used matte and satin varnish poly finishes before, and I was thinking it would protect the surfaces, etc.  What I didn't count on, is that even matte poly, is still shiny in comparison to the ultra matte finish of chalk paint.  When I woke up the next morning, it looked terrible and streaky.  I should have taken a picture to show you the mistake.  And it was a mistake.  I lightly sanded the varnished shelf surfaces and just painted one more coat of chalk paint over it instead and decided to say "f it" to poly altogether.  If it gets scratched or water stained from people setting their drinks on it, I will just do another coat of chalk paint and give it a light sand in the future.  That's my plan for the coffee bar desk as well.  When we move I will give it a quick sand and a touch up coat.

So, it took me a day or so to style these shelves.  It's a hard business, tweaking things.  The colors have to balance.  I wanted a very full, stuffed, farmhouse look.  I didn't want it to be too sparse, modern, or too precise.  I think that part of what makes décor look "farmhouse" is the feel of something being a little imperfect, a little messy, a little rustic.  You get the idea.  So, I filled it with my treasures.

I think it's important to mix textures as well as colors.  I wanted a little metal, some wood, basket material, ceramic, and of course, a vehicle for displaying my ironstone collectables.   Some of these pieces are very old: colonial American era.  And some are newer.  I love the patina, the crazing and the aging on some of the pieces.  I don't want them all to be the same shade of white. 

And I just love how the black matte paint brought out the details of the piece that I barely noticed before with the old finish.  Look at that molding!  Look at how beautiful the cabinet doors look!  Not to mention that World Market White French Drying Rack for my Mugs.  Worth every penny of the $14.99 I spent on it and more.

I hope you enjoyed the outcome of my project!  Every time I walk by it now, it puts a smile on my face.  It is very satisfying to see a vision realized. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

World Market Rocks for Adding Farmhouse Style

I have been sadly neglecting my craft blogging duties and I have several projects going that aren't even close to being finished and I haven't added anything new to the Etsy shop of late.

I have a lot on my mind, a lot on my work plate, a lot on my to-do list and a very cluttered personal space that needs attention. 

But yesterday, I got to thinking about Cost Plus World Market.  Someone I follow on Instagram posted some awesome mason jar themed finds from that store, and although I have never been in a brick and mortar (nor am I sure there is one in the Connecticut area) I fell in love with the online shop when I was searching for glass, gasketed pantry storage containers last Spring (you might recall.) 

And here's a picture if you don't recall. 

Anyway, I found myself browsing last night.  Also as some of you know, my budget is on lock down as I save, save, save for our pending move in Spring 2016.  I can't and frankly don't need to buy any more home décor items.  But that doesn't stop me from admiring and coveting from afar!

I thought I'd share some farmhouse style finds with you, that are surprisingly cheap considering.  And you know I like cheap décor.  I don't believe in shopping at the fanciest places.  Instead, I like to gain inspiration from those places (like Pottery Barn or Williams Sonoma or Ballard) and find cheap sources of the same types of products.  Saving money yo.  Saving money.

It's really not that difficult or that expensive to change the look of your home a little bit at a time.  It surely is, if you do a full makeover, but I prefer to switch it up progressively.  It's more fun that way and more affordable.  Choosing a color scheme or a new theme (such as farmhouse, or floral or beach cottage or nautical) can get you started.  Be creative but be true to yourself.  Think about your hobbies, your family interests, your favorite colors, the feeling you want the room to evoke, and the functionality.  (Do you want to Relax? Read? Or do you want a vibrant space to inspire you creatively? Do you entertain in the space or is it for private family use only?)  Function is just as important as style. 

As you know, my personal style has evolved from a sleek, bright, contemporary love of red and black, to a more casual, country vibe that draws from the English and French countryside.  But, I still like bold modern prints, and I still love my red and black, only now I temper it with teal, turquoise, and white and an appreciation for more natural fibers/fabrics (hemp, burlap, linen, etc.)

Here is the link to this item.  27.99, and it's barn metal:
 These lined wire basket would add practical, but attractive, farmhouse style storage on a media console or a bookcase in the living room OR kitchen pantry storage OR bathroom / linen closet storage.  These range in price from $7.19 to $22.49 depending on which size you are ordering.
 French drying racks work wonderfully as display stands for mug collections.  You know: for those of us that have extensive mug collections.  Want!   This one is only $14.99 which is a steal.  I have seen similar items at more expensive retailers for about one hundred dollars.
  One easy and cheap thing you can do to add personality to any room, is to change out the light switch plates.  When I painted my bedroom when I first moved in, I ditched the ugly almond broken switch plate in favor of a matte finish black one from Target.  This plate is country and distressed but also an elegant and refined touch.   $6.99 a piece!
 I had to include one splurge item.  I love the idea of using a tufted ottoman as a coffee table, with a serving tray on it as the hard, storage surface.  This particular piece is expensive because the upholstery is done custom for each order, and personally I adore this antique red.  This would be a statement piece in a living room.  While it seems pricey, it's linen and it's made in the USA and hand tufting is no joke: very time consuming.   $343.99 each.,
 This fabulous, aqua and floral table-runner is only $12.49 right now and I adore it.  Modern and yet, evokes a French or English country aesthetic.
And speaking of French Country, you can't get any more French than a table runner inspired by a French ticking striped grain sack.   $12.99!  I prefer table runners to table cloths for everyday use so that you can still see the table underneath but it adds a pop of color.
I love the versatility of serving pieces like this.  Right now, I use a wooden three tiered server that belongs to my sister Jennifer but I'd prefer something like this because it adds another material to a room (I like combing wood, metal, ironstone, glass, etc for visual interest).  It also reminds me of a project I recently checked out on the Dear Lillie blog where she made an Ice Cream Station on a 3 tiered grey wooden server.  See link here:

But really, there are so many things you can do with a piece like this.  If you have a buffet or a larger coffee bar, it could make an excellent storage piece.  You could do a variety of themed stations, such as Hot Chocolate in Winter, or perhaps it could serve as a dining room table centerpiece during the holidays (can't you just see pumpkins, ornaments or greenery in there!  I can.)  So many ideas, and so much room for creativity.  $39.99 from World Market for this particular model.
 Not much needs to be said about this awesome, turquoise, cast iron kettle.  World Market has a large selection of awesome kettles and teapots / infusers in a variety of colors, and I love tea kettles just as much as I love mugs, so at some point I will take advantage of their excellent selection and affordability. $24.99 for something truly unique and far beyond your basic Farberware kettle.,
 Now that I have begun dabbling in sewing, I finally understand why curtains are soooo expensive.  Fabric is not cheap.  A decent home décor fabric ranges from $8 to $50 dollars PER YARD and you need many yards to make a pair of curtains.  It's worth it to invest in curtains that you KNOW you are going to enjoy for quite some time.  I know they say that you should not design around one element in a room, but for those of us on a budget, curtains (like area rugs) can be a commitment.  My Threshold brand Farrah floral curtains (black and linen) inspired my modern French country redesign and I waited to purchase them until they were clearanced and actually traveled to THREE Target stores around Connecticut to find all 8 panels that I wanted/needed.   So, to make a long story short, curtains are not cheap for a reason.  Yes, these are stunning (and notice they are the same pattern as the table runner I admired above) and I wouldn't mind owning these for a long time.  These are $69.98 to $93.98 for a PAIR depending on which length you order.  Not bad.
At $4.99 this is a ridiculous steal, and I would love to hang this over my coffee bar.
These definitely look like they would cost a fortune at Ballard or Pottery Barn.  They really evoke a French or English cottage style, and I would LOVE a pair of these to coordinate with my white distressed wooden finish pillar holders I currently have on the mantel.  $17.59 a piece! You can't beat that at Pier1 or Partylite or the higher end department stores.