Archive for June, 2012

Why Yes, We Do Fight Over Towel Bars

Occasionally we get comments like “I don’t know how you spend all day together without fighting.” While I appreciate the assumption that we have some flawless, all-smiles marriage – we fight. We get upset with each other… and Clara… and even Burger. I’m not saying we have Real Housewives-worthy throwdowns (our table flipping count is still at zero) but like any normal couple we argue. Sometimes in a healthy, I-fight-because-I-care way. Sometimes in a probably less-than-healthy Sherry yells and I give her the silent treatment way. But the point is – yes, we fight (skip to about 11:45 on this old blogiversary Q&A video for a brief mention on the subject).

As upfront as we’re willing to be about the fact that we argue, we try not to air the specifics of our dirty laundry. And that’s not just to you guys here in blog land, we make a conscious decision not to gossip to our friends or family about what’s frustrating us about the other person. It’s not that we’re trying to “keep up appearances”, we just don’t want to complicate our messes by entangling others in them. And we’re usually over things pretty quickly (there’s always another project to do or post to write) so I don’t want my venting to discolor someone else’s opinion of my loving and beautiful wife – because, at the end of the day, that’s how I see her.

Today, however, we’re putting that aside momentarily to indulge you with the story of a home-improvement related fight that we had a little while back (jackpot: it’s actually sort of related to DIY/house stuff, so since we can laugh about it now, we thought it was worth sharing). And yes, it was over a bathroom shelf. Specifically, the one on the left of this old picture:

Let’s rewind to this post about painting our master bath, which involved removing a glass shelf and towel bar on the wall first (we inherited them with the house when we bought it a year and a half ago). When they came down, both went into a box on our bathroom sink to be dealt with later. “To be dealt with later” were not the actual words we used. The actual words are actually the source of the argument. Sherry’s version of the transcript includes her saying “Don’t donate these, I want to craigslist the towel bar because it’s from Restoration Hardware and I might want to reuse the shelf by hanging it in the bath for our shampoo and stuff.” My version of the transcript is pretty much blank as I don’t really remember anything being said at all.

Fast forward a few days. The room is painted. Art is hung. The un-dealt-with shelves are still taking up space next to our bathroom sink.

One evening I get the “I’m fed up with this clutter around the house” bug and I go on a brief but intense cleaning spree while Sherry readies the post for the next morning. In other words: she’s sitting in the office glued to the laptop and isn’t paying any attention to what I’m up to. My spree includes loading a bag full of old clothes, the old bathroom light fixture and – here’s the beginning of my crime – the old shelf and towel bars into the car so that I can drop them off at Goodwill. I didn’t bother to tell Sherry more than “I’m gonna run a bunch of errands” as Clara and I headed out the door the next morning.

Skip ahead to that afternoon (yes, literally that very afternoon) and this conversation happens:

SHERRY: Oh hey, I was thinking over Clara’s nap we should swap out the towel bar in the shower for that old shelf we took down. That way we can actually put our shampoo and stuff on a shelf.

JOHN: Wait, what old shelf?

SHERRY: The one that used to be on the wall. It was sitting by the sink in our bedroom the last time I saw it.

JOHN: You mean the one I donated this morning?

SHERRY: You WHAT?! John! I said I wanted to Craigslist the towel bar and possibly reuse that shelf!

JOHN: Sorry, I figured they’d just been sitting there making a mess so I’d help take care of them.

SHERRY: Why didn’t you tell me?? You snuck out without a word about it! I could have stopped you and explained if you just told me what you were doing!

JOHN: Am I supposed to tell you every errand that I run?

You can probably guess where this was headed. Sherry got increasingly frustrated with me. I grew more and more indignant. Sherry informed me that I had “ruined her plan” for adding a free shelf to our shower. I couldn’t believe I “was being yelled at for cleaning” and Sherry was angry that I had also “donated a $75 Restoration Hardware towel bar” that she could’ve craigslisted for at least ten bucks. I threatened that if she didn’t like me voluntarily running errands while watching Clara, then “maybe I just wouldn’t do it anymore.” Mature, I know.

I knew I had messed up, but I wanted credit for my good intentions. I also wanted to make it right. Which is why I sped over to the scene of the crime (Goodwill) and kindly begged for them to dig out the bag I had donated that morning.

No dice. It was gone-zo. But they did sympathize with my husband-in-the-doghouse story and politely took my number and a description of the item. But now several silent weeks later, we’re considering it a lost cause. Hence the Plan B suction cup solution you’ve since seen in our bathroom. They’ve actually been great so far, although they weren’t free or built-in. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all.

This particular tiff is obviously settled and behind us. There were apologies, concessions that it wasn’t a big deal, and promises to be more communicative. Though with as much time as we spend together and as many projects as we tackle as a pair, I’m sure our next bump is lurking just down the road. We just try to remember we’re on the same team with the same end goal. We wanna whip this house into shape and have as much fun as possible (specifically without killing each other) along the way. So now if you’re one of those folks who wondered if we ever fight, you cay say “oh yeah, there was the Towel Bar Incident Of 2012″ (or feel free to recall it as “oh yeah, there was that towel bar incident where John was totally right.”)

Now you’re up. Care to commiserate about a DIY-related miscommunication? Feel free to put the blogging equivalent of a blurred face and altered voice on your comment if you want to protect the innocent (or perhaps the guilty).

Psst- For a more detailed post on actually resolving decorating-related disputes, click here.



How To Make An Upholstered Headboard, Part 2

Woot, it’s done! Remember yesterday when we left off here?

Now we’re here. And we’re in love.

Little did we know that the first shot of this post might actually be the most “helpful” when it comes to seeing how the headboard fabric plays off the rug. In person, from the door it looks just as good together – but these far away pics just don’t capture it (maybe it’s time to take a photography class). At least the closer detail shots are a little more accurate than the wider ones. But you’ll just have to come over to see things in real life.

 I might even let you get under the duvet. If Burger’s not in there defending his turf…

Eventually we’d love to stain the floors and maybe even the dresser (not rushing into that though), so it might look more like this someday…

John has actually been campaigning to repaint the walls a little darker for a while now, so who knows – we might end up here someday (really quick photoshop job, so squint):

But for now we’re just enjoying things as they are. It’s so much cozier to read in bed now (we made the headboard extra plush- more on that in a minute). And Burger seems to like using the new fabric as camouflage.

Oh and that picture reminds me. There were lots of questions about if we could comfortably reach our side tables/lamps from bed. Thankfully John’s side is the nook side, and he has quite the wingspan – so it hasn’t been an issue after over a week of living like this. He actually complained more about the old side tables (they were low, so we both had to reach down a lot – and we couldn’t open the drawers from bed since they were beneath us) but the new “normal” height of our side tables has been great so far. If we decide over time that the lamp distance annoys us, they also sell little light remotes at Home Depot, so we’ll let you know if we go that route. But so far, so good.

The room has definitely “come into its own” in a pretty awesome way for us over the last few weeks of rearranging and bed-post cutting (which were two blissfully free and less-than-an-hour projects, so thank goodness for those!). Remember when things looked like this?

As for how we finished our little headboard project, after the frame was built, we laid out four yards of extra loft batting that we got (from JoAnn Fabrics for $4 thanks to a 50% off coupon) – which was enough to do two thick layers to make it extra plush. So I trimmed just two yards of it to go around the headboard frame as the first layer.

Then I pulled it taut and stapled it around the back perimeter of the headboard. Then John made me pose for this awkward photo. Winning.

Close ups are where it’s at. Just call me Staple Gun Sally:

Here’s how I did the corner. Just like wrapping a present. You just fold it back and staple it so it all looks smooth from the front. Bam, bam, bam – it’s done.

Eventually the whole thing was stapled nice and tightly.

We lifted it up to make sure it all looked taut and wrinkle free from the front. And while doing so, to return the favor, I took this awkward shot of John. Yeah, he’s really into our new headboard.

Then I rolled out more batting for a second layer (call it extra credit when it comes to a cushy result).

Again I trimmed around it and used the staple gun to secure it around the back perimeter of the frame, being sure to pull it tightly as I went.

Then John leaned it up so we could check it out again- just to make sure it was wrinkle free. I love this picture of Clara peeking up at John holding her bag of crackers. #crackersmakeeverythingbetter

Then I ironed our fabric to make sure it was nice and smooth (it’s by Braemore, called Gazebo in colourway “Cloud” – which was $20 a yard from a local fabric outlet called U-Fab). We actually got it for a book project that we completed in January (so you’ll see it as something entirely different than a headboard in the book, which is kind of fun) but it was awesome to be able to reuse it for this project. We liked how the occasional leafy splashes of turquoise in the headboard fabric picked up that color in the rug, but brought in a natural and organic sort of vibe (whereas the rug is very geometric and symmetrical, so a little more loose softness is nice for the room). It didn’t feel like an obvious choice like something that matched more directly or was more symmetrical/geometric, so maybe that’s what we love it so much?

But back to the bidness of upholstering the thing. As for adding our top layer of fabric over our batting, just like we laid out the batting under the headboard as it was facing down towards the floor, we did the same for the fabric, making sure it was pulled taut underneath the headboard to avoid any wrinkles. Then I trimmed the perimeter of the fabric around the headboard as a guide (leaving a few inches for it to be wrapped and stapled around the back, just as I had with the batting).

Next I got busy stapling each side of the headboard, being sure to pull it extra tight so it won’t end up all loose and baggy over time. I started with one side, pulling it all very tightly, then stapled along the opposite side, again pulling it nice and tight.

Once it was secured on those two sides, I did the same thing to keep it secured vertically, by pulling tightly and stapling the top side and pulling it tightly and stapling the bottom side as well.

Then we flipped the headboard up to see it in all of it’s plush, tightly upholstered glory. Bing, bam, boom. The whole upholstery step took less than forty five minutes to complete. Is it weird to call it one of my favorite fabric projects to date? I just love love love the pattern.

Next we carried it into the bedroom to attach it to Ed’s original headboard (which was so short that you never even saw it behind our pillows). The new one is such an upgrade! See how plush it is from this angle? It’s cushy, but tight – so we won’t worry about it getting baggy with everyday lounging against it.

As for the attachment process, we pulled the bed out from the wall so we could scoot behind it and pre-drill some holes into the original headboard and then used screws that we were sure weren’t going to go through the fabric (the key is to go with something long enough to pass through the old headboard and half of the new one but not all the way through) to attach the new headboard to the old headboard in six different places.

Here’s the view from the back:

And from the front:

Once it was attached, we just pushed the bed back into place and beamed at it. Once again I’ll take a moment to moan that this picture does it no justice and in person the way the headboard sort of subtly plays off the rug is really cool. In these pics it sort of looks like “independent events” but in real life it relates without being too matchy, so we love it. You know what the answer is, right? Sleepover party at our house to see it in person. Who’s down?

Another picture? Why not.

The fabric is sort of like the bridge between the yellow ginko pillows (since there are greeny-yellow flowers in the headboard fabric) and the turquoise in the rug (thanks to those subtle leafy sprigs of turquoise in the headboard).

It’s hard to capture the feathery lightness of the chandelier on camera (in person it’s really soft, sort of like a lace-like dandelion) but this picture captures it pretty well. It just layers into the room, and the added pattern in the new headboard mixed with some colorful accent pillows feels like just the right mix of happy + calm.

I think Burger looks especially dapper in front of this new backdrop.

Look at that handsome boy.

As for a budget breakdown here we go:

Sixty six bucks isn’t pennies, but compared to upholstered headboards that are sold at places like Overstock, it’s at least $100-200 cheaper than even the most basic types. And considering places like Ballard Designs charge around $400-$700 for custom headboards (where you get to pick the fabric) it was awesome to get to choose the fabric and whip this up ourselves.

It definitely makes a difference to have something substantial behind the bed and the mirror hung higher. Of course we’re just using what we have on the walls (that’s an already-owned-it mirror leftover from the living room, art that used to hang in another corner, etc) but it works for now. I’m sure things will evolve over time, so we’ll just have to keep ya posted…

But we love how it has been shaping up in there lately. See how the mirror was sort of too-lined-up with the art in the nook next to it before? Everything felt too much on the same plane – and the bed looked a little bit lonely & bare.

Then look back at the picture above this one. Isn’t it funny how breaking up that perfectly-aligned-mirror-and-art-business somehow makes that back wall feel better? Maybe because the new height of the mirror ties more into the chandelier than the art next to it? And the art above the dresser is aligned with the top of the leaning mirror on the left?

Is it weird to be in love with a headboard?

I think so, but I’m ok with it.

Anyone else making headboards with fabric? What about wood or something even more unusual, like tin? We have four different DIY headboard projects in our book (all of which we made and shot in various corners of our house) and only one of them is fabric – so there are definitely other ways to go! I think we just were craving the plush softness of something padded to lean on. You know what they say (and by they I mean Al Green and Bill Withers): we all need somebody to lean on.

Yes, yes we do.