...because home doesn't happen overnight.

My master bedroom makeover is still a few weeks away from being ‘finished.’  {That’s what I get for trying to do it in the midst of the holiday season!}  But I thought I’d share a little peek with you…unmade bed, unhung artwork and all.

I wanted to make the wall behind the bed a focal point, so I painted it Suitable Brown by Sherwin Williams.  The dark wall makes the white bedding feel so fresh and light.  {I love me some white bedding.} Handy Hubby and I hauled home a bunch of old fence boards from his family’s farm back in Pennsylvania.  A few I’ve used to create custom artwork/a makeshift headboard.  The rest will become a sliding barn door to the master bathroom.  The dark pillow was a Ballard Designs outlet find for less than $12.  {It was my inspiration for the wall color.}  The ruffled mustard pillow is from Etsy…big surprise there, huh?

In other news, Handy Hubby went through his massive clothing collection and got rid of a ton of stuff.  {I guess calling him out on the world wide web did the trick.}  I’m so proud of him.  Now, I can finally get that old white dresser out of the bedroom.  Just like anything that happens around here, this makeover is happening ever so slowly.  But the end is in sight!

Don’t forget to enter to win $100 worth of tile from TILEShowroom!  You can enter until tomorrow evening @ 8:00 p.m. EST.  Go here to enter.

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

When I found a roll of deeply discounted {$15!!} designer trellis wallpaper at a Ballard Designs outlet this past summer, I didn’t know where I was going to use it.  But I knew I’d think of something.

And I did.  I got the idea to hang the wallpaper behind a trio of IKEA’s BILLY bookcases in our master bedroom.  I had never hung wallpaper before – except for some of that chintzy border stuff in my bedroom back in the early 90′s…if that counts.  I had this vision of me tackling this new project, documenting the successful process/results and sharing it all with you via a tutorial.  I would add wallpapering to my repertoire of DIY projects. Well, it wasn’t that easy.  Somewhere between reading online how-to’s and potty-training a toddler, I missed a few key points…about the wallpapering.  {Luckily, the potty-training thing went off without a hitch.} Because I have vowed to be honest about my {lack of} home improvement skills, I’m still sharing my wallpapering adventure with you.  If anything, maybe you’ll learn from my mistakes.

First, I placed my BILLY bookcases where I wanted them and patched 2 drywall holes where a mirror had previously hung.

I decided to forgo the cardboard backing on the bookcases and wallpaper directly onto the wall for fear that the cardboard would shrivel and wrinkle once it got wet with adhesive.  Using a tape measure, pencil and level, I marked off the portion of wall that I would cover.

Following my pencil lines as a guide, I taped off the wall with painter’s tape.  I noticed I’d be wallpapering around an electrical outlet, so I removed the cover.

I wiped down then primed the entire taped-off area with a Zinsser formula to promote a smooth surface and adhesion.  It rolls on just like paint but is clear.  {This step is NOT glue or adhesive.}

That’s when things started to get a little hairy.  I measured my wall space and PRE-cut {with a sharp utility knife} strips of my wallpaper to fit.  The problem?  I did not match up the pattern when I cut successive strips…I just cut them to length. Rookie mistake!  DO NOT PRE-CUT PATTERNED WALLPAPER WITHOUT MATCHING THE PATTERN UP STRIP-TO-STRIP! The bigger problem?  I had barely enough wallpaper to cover the square footage I had taped off.  In the infamous words of Tim Gunn, I had to ‘make it work.’  I applied wallpaper paste to the back of my wallpaper strip using a paint roller.  Here’s the paste I used…

Remembering at least one thing from the tutorials I had read, I folded the wallpaper’s ends onto itself – a process called ‘booking’.  Apparently, this helps the paper to absorb the adhesive and relax…whatever that means.

I was feeling pretty good about myself, conquering the ‘booking’ phase and all.  Then I made mistake #2.  I marked off where the left edge of my center strip should fall and hung it first.  Oops. {It’s better to work from left to right when hanging wallpaper.}

Not too long after, I realized my third wallpapering fault – going it alone.  It’s hard to hang wallpaper above your head.  Picture me standing with my belly to the wall, arms up and spread apart trying to smooth out my wet wallpaper.  The paper just kept falling down on my head.  I really should have had a helper, preferably someone taller than 40″.  But I didn’t, so I just kept plugging along hanging strip after strip and hoping I’d have enough wallpaper to finish the job.

Somehow, I did manage to cover the entire area with not-so-much as a few inches of wallpaper to spare.  {Divine intervention?}  Because I had pre-cut my strips incorrectly, I ended up having to patch a small piece of wallpaper down in the lower left-hand corner.  It’s awful.  The seam has no overlap because I had no more wallpaper.

In an effort to just be done, I wiped down all the hung wallpaper with a damp rag to remove any excess adhesive then put the bookcases back in place.

Once the adhesive dried several hours later and the seams flattened out a little, I decided the final product wasn’t too bad.  It was livable.  No wrinkles or bubbles.  Thank goodness!  At one point, I seriously thought I was going to have to rip it all down.  Luckily, the awful patch job {bottom left} will be disguised when our master bedroom makeover is complete.  And I must say I do love the pop of pattern behind the bookcases.  {I still have shelves and accessories to add.}

But let’s review what I did wrong just so you don’t make the same mistakes should you decide to hang wallpaper.

WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN HANGING WALLPAPER

  • Do not work alone.  You especially need a helper if you’ll be wallpapering above your head.
  • Do not forget to match up patterned wallpaper from strip-to-strip BEFORE you cut.
  • Do not start in the center of a wall and work your way out.  Work left to right or right to left.

Even though I made these dire mistakes, I think a few things saved my DIY project.

WHAT TO DO WHEN HANGING WALLPAPER

  • Do apply a wallpaper primer to the wall before hanging any paper.  I think this step helped my paper to dry smoothly in the end.
  • Do use a level to mark vertical/horizontal lines on the wall guiding your wallpaper placement. This is the reason my pattern is centered and straight.
  • Do use a new, sharp knife to get a clean wallpaper cut.  I bought a $2 knife just for this project.
  • Do ‘book’ each strip of wallpaper to maximize adhesion.  My wallpaper is not coming down on its own.
  • Do use a smoothing tool.  I used a vinyl smoothing tool to press out wrinkles and bubbles.
  • Do remove any excess adhesive immediately after hanging the wallpaper.  I wiped mine down with a wet rag to avoid discoloration and dirt attraction.

I think I was being a little unrealistic when I decided to tackle my first wallpapering project alone.  I could see this project being so much easier with an extra pair of hands…and another brain to work out the logistics of measuring, cutting and matching up the pattern.  During the entire process, I kept telling myself I would never wallpaper again.  I was that frustrated.  Now that it’s done, I think I would wallpaper again.  I just wouldn’t wallpaper ALONE again.

FYI – In case you’re in need of a professional wallpapering tutorial, you can find one here.

Images: 1) Ballard Designs  6) Lowe’s  the rest are all via Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

06.06.10 / You Asked For It

When I shared the most recent progress in our kitchen last Friday, I received several inquiries about my kitchen rug. 

Who’da thought a lil’ ole rug would steal the spotlight from granite countertops?!  So, here you go!  A post devoted entirely to my kitchen rug.

I first spotted this rug in the Ballard Designs catalog.  (If you’re not on their mailing list, sign up here.  Even if you aren’t able to shop them, their catalog pages are chock full of inspiration.)  It’s the Farrah Indoor/Outdoor rug and it retails for $59-$149.  I was looking for something to “hide” our builder vinyl flooring in the kitchen.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m drawn to geometric prints.  This rug was right up my alley.  But I held off on ordering it right away (I seldom by something the first time I see it) because I read in the description that it was made of plastic…recycled bottle caps to be exact.  And while keeping plastic out of our landfills sounds like a good idea to me, I wasn’t quite sold on a plastic rug.  After a few weeks of shopping other places, I kept coming back to this Ballard Designs rug.  After all, the catalog picture looked nice.

I ordered the plastic rug and expected to wait 4-6 weeks for delivery.  However, I received it not even 2 weeks later.  I put it to use right away and haven’t stopped loving it.  (Handy Hubby loves it, too, and he’s usually not a rug guy.)  There are many reasons why I love this rug:  1) the geometric print…it hides everything and adds interest to my uninteresting vinyl floor  2) the way it feels under foot…recycled bottle caps are surprisingly squishy when used to make a rug!  3) no rug pad is required…the plastic rug doesn’t slide across our vinyl floor  4) the ease of cleaning…I shake it and hose it off outside once in a while  5) the eco-friendliness…who knew you could make such a worthy rug from bottle caps?!  6) the texture…the woven plastic mimics rugs made of natural materials.

The rug is reversible too.  There’s the side with the brown background and white print (as seen in my kitchen to contrast with our builder beige floor) or the side with the white background and brown print (which would look sweet against a darker floor).

I’ve had this rug for nearly 6 months and it shows no wear.  People always comment on it when they see it and are shocked when I tell them it’s made of plastic.  The rug is still available for purchase from Ballard Designs and, if you’re lucky enough to live near a Ballard Designs Outlet (like me!), I’ve seen it there too for less.  All-in-all, I would give this rug a 9.5 out of 10.  My only comment is that it is a teeny tad browner in person versus the more gray-brown shown in the catalog.

So, that’s everything you’ve ever wondered about my kitchen rug.  Or is it?  Any more questions?  I’d be happy to answer!  Are you looking for a modern rug to hide your vinyl flooring?  (It’s a lot cheaper than buying new floors!)  Don’t forget that indoor/outdoor rugs are great options for homes with kids and/or pets.  They’re durable and easy to clean.  If this rug isn’t quite your forte, just search for an “indoor/outdoor rug” on Overstock or Amazon.  Happy rug hunting!

FYI – As always, I am not paid by Ballard Designs to review this or any other product.  I just really love this rug and think credit should be given where credit is due.  However, if Ballard Designs would like to hire me out…I’m game!

I finally got around to reading the March 2010 issue of Real Simple this past week.  (My subscription was a Christmas gift from Handy Hubby’s folks…thank you!) 

Of particular interest to me was an article entitled “What’s Your Decorating Style?”  I’m all for not ‘labeling’ yourself as akin to one specific design style, yet I find myself a little overwhelmed by all the home decor options available nowadays.  It helps (me, at least) to have some sort of guideline when searching for a piece of furniture or home accessory.  I took Real Simple up on their little design soul-search and decided to share my results with you this week.  I’m hoping it will help me define a loose design style and also maybe assist you in pinning down your decor preferences.  Feel free to grab a pad of paper, a pen and your camera to follow along!  And your style might be waaay different than mine – that’s great!  Remember, that you’re just trying to find out what you like…there’s no right or wrong.

The first page is a collage of images on which you are to circle the ones you’re drawn to.  No thinking allowed.  It’s meant to help you visualize a general sense of your design taste.  (You can quiz yourself here with similar images.) 

Each item is labeled with either an A, B, C or D.  (I detest these quizzes because I already know that the letter I circle the most of is ‘the winner.’)  It’s difficult to tell from the photo, but I circled 6 images:  a mid-century modern chair (B), a potted orchid (A), a leather riding boot (C), a silver metal bracelet (B), a vase of pink roses (D) and a starburst clock (B).  The B’s have it with a little bit of everything else thrown in.  So, what do mostly B’s mean? 

You’re into color, contrast and clean lines.  You’ll probably like the style Modern Graphic.  Modern Graphic is a fresh, fun contemporary look that combines urban styling (imagine a downtown loft) with edgy, colorful elements and midcentury designs.  Simple furniture forms balance out bold accents and patterns.

Well, I can go with the clean lines, downtown loft and midcentury designs but I’m not really into bold accents or colorful designs.  While the jist of my style may be modern, I prefer more serene colors.  Good to know.  I’ll keep that in mind…

On to the actual Step One, where I’m asked to tour my home and make 2 blatantly honest lists:  “Love It” and “Wish I Could Replace It.”  Easy.  I could do that in my sleep.  I ran around my house snapping pics of my faves and my not-so-faves.  Take a look.

“LOVE IT”

(a chair I found on the side of the road and brought back to life with some wood stain and new upholstery)

(my DIY pedestal table…pedestal base and chairs from Craigslist, tabletop from Lowe’s)

(a Home Decorator’s Outlet find that I painted green inside)

(my West Elm dining chandelier that I splurged on when it went on sale last year)

(my IKEA craft/sewing desk)

(our tall 9-foot ceilings which lend an open feel)

(our functional IKEA console for storing toys in the family room)

(our rustic family room side table from Ballard Designs outlet for a steal!)

(our light and airy sunroom)

Now, for the “WISH I COULD REPLACE IT”

(our busy builder laminate countertops)

(this horribly ugly intersection of wood, vinyl and carpet floorings, UGH!)

(our orangey oak stair railing and carpeted steps)

(our electric stovetop…we’d prefer gas)

(the boys’ orangey oak bathroom vanity)

(our first-floor carpet…have I mentioned I don’t like our floors?!)

(our master bath light fixture)

(our master bath orangey oak vanity – have I mentioned I don’t like orange oak?!)

(our master bed frame…a little too delicate and feminine)

(our master bedroom dresser…it was left by the previous owners of our first home…we painted it white)

So, there are my Step One lists.  Don’t know about you, but that was pretty cathartic for me!  Wow, I really don’t like our floors, oak vanities or master bedroom furniture.  Oh, if only I had the time and money to change up those “Wish I Could Replace”-ems.  What about you?  What items in your home popped up on your list of favorites?  What would you change if money wasn’t an issue?  Sometimes knowing what you absolutely don’t like is just as helpful as those things you ogle over.  Stay tuned for Step Two where I’ll (you’ll) conquer the little things.