Crafting & Art

That Didn’t Work Like I Thought It Would…

Cabinet hanging continues in the laundry room (details tomorrow!) so since yesterday’s post had a giveaway worked into it (we can’t believe over 25,000 of you took the poll, John is beside himself with infographic glee), I thought I’d share a quick post about three recent redos. Sometimes things get wonky when you least expect them to, and the second time ends up being the charm (at least you hope it is).

Redo #1. Our cork bulletin board in the office. Back when we made this a few months ago, we used Loctite Spray Adhesive, since the back specifically said it worked for bonding cork to wood. Well… the cork squares slowly started to pop off the wall. To be fair, the directions did suggest spraying both surfaces (since we didn’t want to spray it indoors on the wood backing, we just spayed the back of the cork outside and carried each square in and stuck it up). I’m not sure if that would have made the difference or not (we heard from a reader who sprayed both sides and still had issues with hers falling off) so I took down all of Clara’s art…

… and added some reinforcement in the form of Aleene’s Tacky Glue on the back of each tile, along with a few tiny finish nails to hold the corners down (they’re so small they sink into the cork and can’t really be seen).

So far, this method has been great, and the cork is staying put this time. Even when it’s super hot and humid.

Redo #2. Our red adirondack chairs out back. Remember when we bought these guys two years ago? We hoped that splurging for pro-painted chairs would hold up better than spraying some wood ones ourselves. These are our famous last words from that post: “Chairs that came pre-painted by the pros with polyurethane paint for protection against the weather, heat, and sunlight definitely appealed to us as something that would hopefully stand the test of time. Just didn’t want to spend less but end up with something that looked shoddy by next summer.” Well, they lasted more than one summer, but two summers later they were maaaajorly faded. Sometimes they looked ok in photos, but in real life (especially when the pillows were off) they were very sad indeed.

It was clear they needed more protection and a fresh coat of paint to help restore their bright happy color and protect them from the elements.

So I sprayed them with three thin coats of Gloss Protective Enamel by Rustoleum in their Regal Red color. It has a built-in primer and it’s meant for wood furniture that’s outdoors, so we hope it holds up well. Note: you can kind of see from the spray paint pattern on the cardboard that I flipped them over (resting them on the top of the seat and their arms) and sprayed their back/underside first, let that dry, and then stood them up to get all the other parts.

The happy news is that they look like new!

Only time will tell if this is going to be an every-few-years ritual, but I’m glad to have done it and seen great results (that always inspires me to do those “maintenance” things again down the line if I need to).

And now they match the red stool over near the egg chair, which is a nice bonus.

Redo #3. My little light-turned-terrarium. I showed you how I made it here, and how everything I planted gave up on me here

… but some of you noticed that things looked less bleak in a recent post.

At the urging of some “I use fake ones in my terrarium!” comments, I grabbed a few faux succulents at JoAnn. I also noticed some pretty white aquarium rocks at the pet store while buying new food for Burger, so into my cart they went. Once at home, Clara and I had fun filling the glass case with white rocks and poking my fakers in there to hang out. Clara insisted that the deer should go back in there too, and five minutes later we had a finished product.

I still have plants that need to be watered and loved (much like Michael Scott, they want me to fear how much I love them) but it’s nice to have something unkillable in the mix.

And now for a bonus. This isn’t really a redo, just a giant duh moment. A few of you eagle-eyes noticed I was painting a door sign waaaay back here while making little desserts for Clara’s tea parties, and correctly guessed it was going to be one of those “please don’t ring the bell – the baby is sleeping” signs for the front door.

Well, after painting the background white, it stalled for a few months. I had big plans for using a thin brush to paint pretty scripty words on it, but after staring at the blank white doorknob hanger on the kitchen counter for way too long I finally just grabbed a red sharpie and scribbled out a message. “There” I thought. “It’s not Pinterest worthy, but it’s done!”

And then I walked over to the front door to hang it… and realized we don’t have a doorknob on our front door.

I laughed so hard there were tears, guys. How much of a duh moment is that? I mean I literally had months to reach this realization as the door hanger sat on the kitchen counter taunting my in its half-finished state… and yet… nada. So I Tim Gunned that sucker by hanging it over the door knocker. And you know what? It works. The sweet Fed-Ex guys just leave stuff instead of ringing the bell and setting off Burger The Barking Maniac. Just thought you guys would get a kick out of that. Feel free to pin your little heart out (insert winky face here).

The lesson for all of these redos? If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Also, check your door for a knob before making a door-hanging sign.

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While The Dust Flies In The Laundry Room…

This isn’t as exciting as our big laundry room reno (nothing is!) but let’s talk about curtains for a second. Remember when our bedroom was all naked and afraid? (Sidenote: if you’re not watching that show, you should be).

We added frames and hung curtains at the same time, but it took us way longer to actually finish said curtains. We knew we wanted nice white linen-like ones for our dark-walled bedroom, and had heard a lot of good things about the Lenda curtains from Ikea around blogland (they’re their nicer/thicker white curtains with a convincing linen-looking weave, as opposed to the cheaper/thinner/breezier ones we’ve tried in previous houses). After seeing – and feeling – them in person, we were sold.

We also grabbed some nice substantial curtain rods from Lowe’s along with some nice big ring hooks (the same ones that we used in Teddy’s room).

They didn’t look so great when we first hung them after washing and drying them (to account for shrinkage), which is why we moved on to our little frame project (and asked you ignore the curtains while posting about that).

Once we finished with the frames, I turned my attention back to the curtains and slowly (as in, it took me a month to finish them) got ‘em done. First I took them down one by one and ironed them. I also removed the tabs at the top, so we could clip them more cleanly to each panel. See how it looks floppy and folded over in the one that’s hanging below? No bueno.

Just ironing them and removing the tab tops made a big difference. We also realized that they looked nicer when they were less pulled out/wide. That’s right, after years of practicing hanging curtains “high and wide” to give the illusion of bigger windows, it felt odd to like the look of tighter, narrower curtains – but it really gave these curtain panels a cleaner and fuller look.

The last thing they needed was a bit of a hem on the bottom, so after three weeks or so of being almost-but-not-quite done, I took to my sewing machine to make a nice thick hem (around 4″).

Here they are after. So. Much. Better.

I just want to rehang the curtain rods a little closer to the windows (nothing a little spackle and paint can’t solve).

Oh and one more tip is that when I hung them I sort of trained the fabric to alternate the direction of the loops with the rings (between two rings I’d train it to swoop out and between the next two rings I’d train the fabric to swoop in). That created a nice shape that I could follow down the rest of the panel for that drapey look. The professionally made curtains at the showhouse had that shape to them, and we really liked it. They felt so polished and tailored. Here we use faux white wood blinds for privacy, and the showhouse has plantation shutters, so in both cases the curtains are purely decorative (so they’re not drawn closed and can keep that shape).

Speaking of the professionally made curtains we got for the showhouse, we’re actually debating getting some made for our office. We know it won’t be as cheap as buying fabric and making our own (or grabbing pre-made ones by mass retailers) but we really loved how the showhouse ones turned out, and we conveniently met a seamstress through that process that we can use. We actually debated using her for bedroom curtains, but we figured white linen looking curtains were easy enough to find, so we’ll save her talents for a more not-readily-available result, like office curtains in one of these fabrics:

We ran through our favorite local fabric store (U-Fab) to grab these swatches. We love all of them for different reasons, so we’re still simmering on which one to go with. The patterned ones feel a little busy when we hold them up, and although we thought we’d love the emerald green or the orange ones for being a little different than our usual choices, they both felt sort of thicker/heavier than we expected when we put them next to the window.

Our favorite of the group is probably the top right swatch, which we only realized after holding them all up is the same fabric we used for the window treatments in the master bedroom of the showhouse, so while it feels sort of anticlimactic to go with the same thing at home, it’s also nice that they’re pre-vetted and we know we love them (and that they drape beautifully).

We’re not 100% sold on it yet though, so we’ll keep you posted when we make a decision. Sometimes I look into the office and think leaving the windows bare might actually be beautiful…

We also made a few curtain updates in Clara’s room, since we both had some issues with how hers had been looking. I thought the pattern was competing a little too much with the bold rug and the playful raindrop painted wall, and  Mr. Function (John) didn’t like how the blackout curtains, which were clipped behind each breezy panel, made them feel a little bulky when we slid them open and closed since we hadn’t ever sewn them together. Plus, the thin rod – a carryover from our last house – was starting to sag.

They actually photograph better than they look in person (photogenic curtains?), but in real life they felt a little more demanding and messy looking. So while in the midst of hanging Clara’s new light, we tried two things: flipping the panels backwards (the pattern was more muted on the other side) and removing the blackout curtains (which we’ve been considering weaning Clara off of anyways). They immediately felt less bold and heavy.

So I took them down and I sewed a hem on all four sides of all four panels (16 hems!) so that hanging them backwards looked more finished. For a second I worried about how bad the bold circles might look from the street with them drawn, but realized that since we close the blinds before pulling the curtains closed, they’d never be visible from outside – and since we removed the blackout panels we probably would just shut the blinds and leave the curtains open anyway.

Rather than rehanging them on those thin, sagging curtains rods; we took the opportunity to upgrade those too. We went with white wood ones from Lowe’s so that we no longer had a dark metal line cutting across the top of each window. That’s a look that we like almost every where else, but Clara’s room is so light and playful that it felt oddly heavy and out of place in here. As soon as we got the white rods up, they felt great.

I was waiting for one of you eagle eyed readers to notice the rod change/curtain flip in Clara’s light post, but nobody did! To be fair, we hardly showed them, so here’s a nice full view for ya. We’re still not certain they’ll be Clara’s forever curtains, but we’re both liking them much better, and it was a zero dollar change other than the rod upgrade (they’ll stay no matter what curtains end up there someday).

Oh and as for the length in here, John was adamant that ours be floor-length in our bedroom (he likes that look best) but agreed that a little loose pooling action on Clara’s floor would be ok for these. I think that casual french vibe goes well with her Belle-looking chandelier.

The best news of all is that so far our fears of ruining Clara’s sleep habits without blackouts have been unfounded. She’s still taking good naps in the afternoon (which is when the sun hits her windows the most directly) and isn’t waking at sunrise like we worried she would. Turns out those white faux-wood blinds do a pretty decent job at blocking light on their own, so they seem to be just fine without blackouts backing them up.

There you have it. A whole lot of hem-sewing, some new rods, and some curtain considerations for the office. Now it’s back to laundry room stuff (today we’re re-routing vents, which sounds about as exciting as it is – but next is drywall!). Until then I’ll be daydreaming about what curtains we’ll hang in the future bunk room someday and trying not to duct tape my fingers together.

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