Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Thing To Try: Reupholstery

I've been reading several blogs lately about reupholstering furniture, and thought I'd have a go at it. I had two old chairs that needed a little revitalization:

The top one is a rocking chair that was my grandmother's. It's been around a LONG time, but the fabric was crusty and it was missing some nailhead trim. This was a fairly easy recovering job - I also sanded the wood and put some new stain on it. Here's the after:

The second chair was in my bedroom when I was little, but has since been in my dad's garage, where it may or may not have been peed on by some type of animal. The fabric was ratty, and that skirt - ugh. Here's how it looks now, in my home office:

Now may be when you're ready to read my how-to on recovering furniture, but honestly, that would be reinventing the wheel. Tons of bloggers have written about it, so you can Google "reupholstering furniture" and find a wealth of information. Just know that these are the basic steps:

1. Remove all the fabric, and label it as you go with numbers and where it goes on the chair. Usually you'll start with the back first.

2. Use the old pieces as templates for your new fabric.

3. Put everything back on the chair in the opposite order from how you removed it.

It was an intimidating project at first, but really wasn't so hard once I got going. It's much less difficult if you start with a chair you find at a thrift store, so that if you happen to mess something up, you're not sad about destorying your late grandmother's favorite chair.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Night Drinking Club

Y'all know I love a good cocktail, but sometimes you need something different than your usual beer, glass of wine, gin and tonic, vodka and lemonade, Firefly and water, mojito, margarita or cough syrup (when you forget to go to the booze store). So Trusty Husband's mom introduced me to a new drink to add to the repertoire - Wine Ice Stirs.

It's easy - you just pour a bottle of wine into a gallon Ziplock bag, add the same amount of water, and pour in the magic crystals. Freeze for 3-4 hours until it's slushy. Nom nom nom.

It makes a kind of sweet, kind of tangy slushy. Very good.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

30: What I Know For Sure

I've been sitting on a few posts for a while, because I wanted what's below to be my "Welcome Back to Blogging, Katy" post. I wrote this on my last day of being 29 (today's my 30th birthday).

30: What I Know For Sure

I turn 30 tomorrow, which everyone keeps reminding me is a milestone birthday. I’m looking forward to it, really – I once had a boss who told me that 30 meant you finally had a little credibility. I think that makes sense. But in the grand scheme of things, 30 is nothing – it’s the beginning, really. There’s (hopefully) lots left to do and learn. But on the eve of entering my fourth decade, I thought I’d record a few things I know for sure (yes, I stole that line from Oprah).

• Even though people will call you a flake, it’s perfectly OK to job-hop until you find something that works with your personality, your goals and your talents. Since graduating from college eight years ago, I’ve had seven jobs. And I’ve learned a lot from each of them, even though there were definitely some miserable times. So figure out what you want to do – sometimes getting there requires you to do a little job-hopping, but the experiences you have along the way will make you a much better employee and boss one day.

• When baking, always pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

• Wait to get married. Not every couple who gets married at 22 will end up in court fighting over who gets the kids for Flag Day, but the statistics don’t lie – the older you are, the more you know about yourself, and the better spouse you’ll be. Alex and I were 29 when we got married – we had already both figured out a lot of things that, if we had gotten married much earlier, might have already taken a toll.

• Speaking of marriage, marry your best friend. I’m not talking about a boyfriend who becomes your best friend – I mean if you can have a best friend who you end up dating and marrying much later – things will be good, even when they’re bad. Your friends see a different side of you than your significant other. They know all that stuff you try to keep hidden, at least for a little while, in a relationship. And if he or she can love you anyway – despite your crazies – that’s ideal. I’m told you should marry someone you enjoy being with, because when you’re old and grey and fighting over who gets the rocking chair closest to the bathroom, you better like the person you’ve chosen.

• Exercise sucks, but it’s a necessary evil, and you always feel better when you’re done.

• TV isn’t bad in general, but reality TV is good for nothing other than using up brain cells that could be enjoying a good book.

• Read.

• It’s OK if your core group of friends has been with you since elementary school. Those are the people who know you best and can say things like, “Remember when you got your driver’s license and rear-ended that Explorer three weeks later?” But it’s important to have a group of acquaintances who didn’t know you until later in life.

• Get rid of anything in your closet that doesn’t make you feel fantastic when you put it on.

• The sayings are true – “If you’re going through Hell, keep on going.” “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” Sometimes the bad outweighs the good, but if you ride it out, persevere, and know that eventually things will get better, they will.

• Cancer sucks.

• Everybody should have a dog. Maybe not during college, but otherwise, yes – get a dog. Nothing loves you like a dog.

• Everybody should have at least one hobby they can get lost in. I have several. I paint and sew and craft mostly, but I’m always trying new things. If your life is nothing but work and sleep, what kind of life is that? So whether you garden, play and instrument, cook, read, run, fly hot air balloons, play in a kickball league – whatever – just DO something.

• The art of a handwritten note is one that’s dying that we should try to keep alive.

• When you start getting shin splints, it’s time for new running shoes.

• It’s always good if, when things are going well, you stop to acknowledge it. Just smile to yourself and think of one of my favorite quotes from Kurt Vonnegut: “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”

• Sometimes you just need to sing in the car.

• Sometimes you just need to turn off your phone.

• There’s nothing like being by yourself on the beach at night, watching the waves crash and feeling the breeze, to make you feel small and to put everything into perspective.

• You better tell people how you feel now, because what if they’re gone tomorrow?

• A good internship is worth two Master’s Degrees.

• People will bitch when you pull out your camera all the time, but they’ll ALWAYS want to see the pictures.

• The only math you really need to know how to do in your head is percentages, because that’s shopping math and sometimes you just don’t want to pull out a calculator in the middle of Macy’s.

• Your family is important. You should spend time with them and learn about your history and where you come from. Blood really is thicker than water, and your family cares about you like no one else.

That’s what I know for sure. It’s not much, really, and I’m sure I could think of more if given more time, but I guess that’s what the next 30 years are for, right? Feel free to share what you know for sure in the comments - I'd love to read what you know.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Orange You Glad You Went to the Thrift Store?

A couple weekends ago I visited a few of the thrift stores in town just to see what they were like. And yowza – I found all kinds of amazing things! I’ll share with you some of my projects with thrift store finds in the next few posts.

First up, new guest room lamps. Finding a matching pair of lamps in a thrift store is a sign – you must buy them. I spotted these blue babies, and liked the shape – kind of ginger jar-ish. But the color was atrocious. They were $6 each, so they came home with me.

Some painter’s tape to cover the brass, a can of pumpkin orange spray paint, a couple of new harps and shades, and voila! New lamps for the guest room! Lamps like this can easily run at least $50 each even in a place like HomeGoods, but these totaled $22 each. I like the pop of color they give. The guest room is still very much a work in progress, but my new lamps have given me the oomph I needed to get back to decorating it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How to Hang Pictures Straight and Even 100% of the Time

(Prelude: Thanks to everyone for your comments, messages, emails and texts about my dad. We’re making it. I’ll update you on that situation later, but I really appreciate all your thoughts and prayers.)

If there’s one thing Trusty Husband hates, it’s multiple holes in the wall made by me trying to line up pictures. He likes his walls pristine and unadorned, whereas I like to, you know, hang stuff on them. You might remember my master bedroom tour post and the pictures hung over our bed. I think I posted that prematurely, because I never felt really settled in that room – something was askew. So I’m in the process of moving things around. First order of business? Move the collage wall from over the bed to the long, “what-do-we-do-with-this” wall to the left:

Problem: Hanging pictures for a collage wall is a pain. I hate it. When I hung these pictures over our bed the first time, each one took about 20 minutes and 5 nail holes to get right, and even then they weren’t EXACTLY straight and even (my conversation with Trusty Husband went like this: (him) “They’re not even.” (me) “Yes they are.” (him) “Katy, I don’t think they are.” (me) “I used a level. They’re even. Maybe your legs are different lengths.”). I figured there had to be an easier way. But what? Drawing lines on the wall? If a few nail holes sends Trusty Husband into orbit, think what lines drawn on the wall would do. No. I bought this contraption, called a Hang ‘n’ Level, but it sucks:

Enter: Gridded wrapping paper.

Genius. Just cut a piece of wrapping paper that has the grid on the back in the shape of your wall, tape it up there with painter’s tape, make sure it’s level, and voila! Instant picture-hanging grid!

Hammer your nails directly into the wrapping paper. Hang your middle picture first, and use the grids to make everything level and the same distance apart. Once you’re happy with how it looks, take the pictures down and remove the paper from the wall – just carefully slip it over the nails.

Aren’t you surprised you hadn’t thought of this before? I am. But it took hardly any time and the results were great! I’ve got to get several more frames to fill the space, but it’s a start to taking care of that massive wall.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back...

Oh, good intentions. I have them - I really do. I have good intentions to blog at least two or three times a week, and to share DIYs, pretty home interiors, recipes, books and more. And then events happen that move those to-dos to the back burner.

My dad's cancer has spread. After six rounds of one type of chemo, then three rounds of another, we had hoped he would be at the University of Nebraska Medical Center right now undergoing a stem cell transplant. That didn't happen. So last Tuesday, we hit the end of the road. We're hoping and praying for the chance to get him in a Phase II clinical trial at UNMC, which is the last remaining option. But as you can imagine, it's been the worst week ever.

On top of that, Trusty Husband lost his job a few weeks ago, which is stressful enough in itself. I decided against posting the RAGE-FILLED entry I wrote to the Canadians in the spirit of getting past things, and am hoping that we will have a lemons-to-lemonade situation on our hands. I'm married to the smartest, funniest and most talented man ever, so the Canadians clearly lost their minds.

So, as has happened before, the blog is the first thing to go when stuff like this happens...

HOWEVER, remember several posts back when I told you I had some big news? Well, here 'tis: I'm going into the decorating business. I'm taking classes at night, getting officially certified, doing some work on the side, and starting the next chapter in my life. And even if you don't live near me, there's something in it for you! You'll see!

So rest assured, the blog WILL be back, and better than ever. I'm in a low point in life right now, so I'm having a hard time finding the umph to write, but I just finished a great DIY I'll post later this week, and I'm keeping ideas for a little down the road.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

11 Tips for Navigating an Antique Market

Sometimes you experience something so amazing, you have to share it. I had something amazing happen last Saturday – I had my first visit to Scott’s Antique Market in Atlanta.

My friend Tawana* hired me to decorate her house, and we needed a few things. So we made the two hour drive up I-85 to the once-monthly antique show.

And y’all? I’ve never seen anything like it. It spans both sides of the interstate, inside and outside, vendor after vendor after vendor of anything you could POSSIBLY ever want. I was a little overwhelmed when we walked in, but seven hours later, I had the lay of the land. Here are a few tips if you’re venturing to Scott’s, or any other large antique market with vendors:

1. Wear comfortable shoes. You can’t pay attention to the beautiful lines in an armoire if your feet and back are killing you. Do you own Aerosoles? Wear them.

2. Make a list. Going to any size antique or flea market can be overwhelming, especially when it spans 366,000 square feet. We made a list of the things we were looking for before we went. There is absolutely NO way you can navigate a place like this without a list. I love antique jewelry and silver, but that’s not what we were there for, so we skipped right past those booths. If we hadn’t made a list, I’m 100% certain I would have gotten caught in the first few booths and never made it to the back.

3. Bring cash. Bring lots of cash. Cash is king at the antique market, and vendors are more willing to bargain if you tell them you have cash. They have to pay a small fee for taking credit cards, checks are a hassle and they’re SUPPOSED to charge sales tax on all purchases. So if you’re paying with cash, they save money, they’re paid right away, and there’s no paper trail for Uncle Sam. Win-win.

4. Buy something small soon... You can be so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of items in a place like this that you’re almost afraid to break the seal and buy anything. What if you find the same thing for $100 cheaper 47 rows to the right? So here’s my philosophy: buy something small within about 15 minutes of getting there. We found some antlers Tawana liked and got them for $30. It was a small purchase, but it helped us feel like we’d actually started shopping. There’s some kind of mental hang-up about the first purchase I think, so make it small and get it out of the way.

5. …But wait on the bigger purchases. If you’re looking for a piece of furniture or an antique piece of silver – something that’s going to cost big money (and in my world, “big money” is anything over about $300) – look around first. In my opinion, someone’s not going to snatch up the $1,500 buffet in the first 15 minutes of the place opening, so you’re OK browsing around for a bit. And if you come back and it’s gone, it just wasn’t meant to be. We saw a beautiful buffet early on, and stood around, contemplating whether or not to go ahead and get it. We finally decided to look around a little more, and if we didn’t see anything else we liked, we’d come back for it later. A couple hours later, we stumbled upon an even MORE beautiful buffet for HALF the price of the first one. So many times, it pays to have some patience. Take a picture of the piece you like, and make a note of where it’s located. Many vendors will have cards with their location and phone number, so if you realize it’s the piece for you, you can call to see if it’s still there and get talked back to the booth.

6. Haggle. Vendors are there to haggle – it’s like the silver market in Cozumel when you step off your cruise ship. Here’s how this should go:

You: Browse around, nonchalantly. “This is a nice piece. What’s the price on this?”
Them: “Oh, that’s $600.”
You: Make a face “Hmm – that’s a little more than I was looking to spend. Is that your best price?”
Them: “I could go to $550.”
You: “I was really looking to spend about $475 on something like this. Can you go any lower? I’d be paying cash.”
Them: “Eh – I could go $500, but that’s my best price.”

And voila! You just saved $100, or almost 20%. The most important thing when haggling is this: Always be nice. People are more inclined to give lower prices to those who are friendly.

7. Look over pieces thoroughly. Is the wood scratched? Are there chips out of ceramic? Is there some small piece missing? These don’t mean you shouldn’t buy a piece you love, but you can use them as leverage to get a better deal.

8. Consider going on the last day of the market. Vendors do NOT want to load items, especially heavy items, back into a truck. So if you’ve got a little flexibility about what you can buy, try going later on in the sale. They are ready to make a bargain when it’s 3:00 on Sunday and the show ends in two hours. If you’re looking at a marble-top table and have cash, you’re going to get a deal.

9. Keep everything in perspective. At one point, I got caught up in the “antique experience” and considered talking Tawana into a $50 magnifying glass that would be a beautiful accessory in her living room. But then I remembered: I bought a magnifying glass very similar to it at TJ Maxx for $12 two weeks before. When you’re buying things at places like this, especially furniture, sometimes seeing something that’s relatively inexpensive there makes you think you’re getting a bargain. But keep in mind that, unless you’re the type who goes wild for ALL THINGS ANTIQUE, some of the smaller things should be reconsidered. Is it something you’ve NEVER seen before? Then sure – it might be a great deal. But many things have very similar replicas somewhere for a fraction of the price.

10. Bring blankets, bungee cords, string and a truck. You just don’t know what you’re going to find. You want to be able to get it home safely, so make sure you’ve got all the tools to pack it well. If you have a truck or have a friend with a truck, bring it. You never know when something isn’t going to fit in your SUV.

11. Know when to stop. There’s going to be a point in the day when you’re so tired, everything’s going to look the same. You can get antique overload, and you’ll know the moment it sets it. You’re tired of haggling, your back hurts, you feel like you’ve spent one skillion dollars on nonsense, and nothing has that fancy antique glow anymore. At this point, you need to step away from the Persian rugs and go home. You’re not going to find much else when you feel like this. If you’ve made a weekend trip out of it, go have dinner and a glass of wine and regroup for the next day. If you’re heading back home, just know that in another month, you can go back and see all sorts of new treasures!

I tried – I really tried – to remember to take pictures while I was there to show you all the antiquey goodness, but 100% of my brain power was focused on finding things for Tawana. However, I did take a few pictures of some things along the way that needed to be considered:

This is a really cool counter-height farmhouse table on wheels that would look great in either a rustic setting or a really modern setting to tone that down a little. Asking price was $1,300, but I’m betting the man would have come down to a cool grand.

Tawana ended up buying this lawyer’s bookcase near the end of the day. Each section comes apart, and the top window is leaded glass. It’s a beautiful piece she’ll have forever.

If you want cool lamps, Scott’s is the place to go. This iron chain lamp would be such a cool, rustic piece to add to a traditional space for some extra interest. We didn’t buy this, mostly because we found one even better I’ll show you in a couple weeks when we do Before and Afters of Tawana’s living room.

This is the first buffet we saw and almost bought. The picture doesn’t do it justice - it had such neat features. What looked like an apron on the front was actually little secret drawers!

So, that was my first experience at Scott’s Antique Mall, and I’ll most definitely be back. Perhaps next month!

*Names changed to protect the Internet-leery

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pretty Palette: Easter Pastels

Hi Friends!
It’s been crazy in my world, but I’ve got Easter on the brain – soft palettes and natural textures. Here are a few interiors from Houzz that I’m really loving right now:

The sparkin new home eclectic home office

This feels like the inside of an Easter egg (sans the M&M’s). I love short shelves on an oddly shaped wall. This would be a fun color palette for a little girl’s room.

Color Fiesta Bedroom eclectic bedroom

Hello, green! It’s like being in a bright garden. I’d love to wake up to these colors in a sun-filled room.

Living Room modern living room

Even though the colors in this room are neutral overall, I love the pops of muted colors: purple, teal, butter yellow and green. You can do pastels without it looking like you’re living in a nursery.

Lola Bs traditional dining room

The muted blue in this rustic dining room is so pretty. I’d love a big pop of pink with some peonies in the center of the table.

Amoroso Design contemporary kitchen

When you have a neutral kitchen like this one, you can add pops of color no matter what season it is: Easter, Christmas or the Fourth of July!

Bedroom/Office traditional home office

The teal wallpaper in this little office nook is very Bunny-worthy.

Joni Spear Interior Design contemporary dining room

Even though there’s a lot going on in this little space, the patterns all work together and the chocolate paint keeps all the pastels grounded. Plus, nothing says “Easter” like chocolate brown!

Trickett Living Room  living room

I would like to know when I can move in to this space. Pops of pastels on a neutral background. Just Heaven.

Tineke triggs contemporary dining room

Non-traditional nursery colors reminiscent of the inside of my Easter basket.

Hammett eclectic dining room

It definitely feels like spring in this room!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Here's Where We Are...

*Sigh* I know I promised a post today. But things are crazy. I could go on and on about everything, but the truth is, it’s just life. It’s a new marriage. It’s cooking dinner. It’s my 8-5 job. It’s watering plants, walking the dog, maintaining friendships, and so on and so on. And on top of all that, I have some really exciting news I’ll share with everyone very soon (and no, it’s not a baby, so get your mind out of the pink fluffy gutter full of pacifiers).

So here’s the deal – the 5-day-a-week posts are going to be scaled back, A) because there just aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week, and B) because sometimes there’s just not a lot to say. The “filler” posts are going by the wayside. But here’s my promise: the cool stuff – the stuff you like to read about and comment on and try at home – that’s staying. Think QUALITY over QUANTITY.

Any blogger will tell you that posting fresh, original content 5 days a week is REALLY hard. So I’m going to focus on taking care of the fam (incidentally, my dad is having his hopefully LAST chemo treatment before his stem cell transplant as I type), taking a breath, and taking care of my readers with some quality info. How does that sound?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Don't Worry!!

Howdy friends! Don’t worry – I’m not dead. Just taking care of some personal things for the next couple of days. I’ll be back Monday with something fab. Have a great weekend!