March 26, 2013

Sprucing up Maple (and MDF Furniture)

My bedroom makeover is under way, and I am glad to have finally finished the painting.  The walls look great, but my entire body is aching!  

This week I didn't have a lot of time, so I decided to quickly spruce up my furniture - the dresser and night stand.

I bought a vintage hutch a while ago that was the right scale and style.  This piece is very typical of Russian apartments; all of my grandparents had a version of this, which is usually outfitted with fine china, stemware, and family photos slid behind the glass.  

For my purpose though, I will be using it without the hutch.  I'm not sure what I will store behind the glass below (though I know it won't be fine china), but whatever it is, I won't want to see.  

So what's today's project?  Easy glass etching!

For the side table, I will be etching a mirror that I had cut to the size of my table top.  First, I taped off the edges so that they remain reflective.

I also taped two strips onto the back side of the glass doors.

Following the instructions on the can I sprayed three even coats onto the glass.  I then removed the tape from the glass and sprayed another two coats, for a total of 5.

 The mirror got 5 even coats, and I removed the tape right after the last coat.

With our table and bed back in place, my handy husby attached a pretty handle to the top drawer before I topped it off with the glass:

I attached 6 sticky squares to the top for cushion and stability, and then pressed the glass on top.

I like the etched top so that the lamp won't reflect in the table, and the mirrored band has an almost beveled effect.

The dresser glass I just popped back in, and am surprised at how transformed the piece looks without the hutch, and with opaque glass - perfect!

Next I'll be making a roman blind, which I'm very excited about - I can't wait to add some pizzaz to the window wall.  This should be a relatively easy project too, and I'm excited to share it with you...soon...

March 19, 2013

Paint by Stencil: A Long Journey

As I mentioned before, I'm sleeping in the bedroom while it's being paint - crazy?  Well, the trick to sleeping in a room that's being painted (and waking up the next morning), is to use a no VOC paint.  Not that my own health isn't important, but with a small child in the house I feel especially lucky to have that option now.

I am painting for the first time using No VOC paint, and I have to say, I am so pleased!   Not only is there no smell (aka horrific toxins), but it applies as well as regular paint, and comes in any finish you might want.  I bought a gallon of the Horizon line paint in a gloss, and am very happy with how it looks on the walls - not to mention how easily it cleans off tools and hands!  I realize how that sounds, but I wasn't even paid to say that.

As you can tell I love the paint, and the fact that I can lay in bed and watch it dry without my head spinning.  But as for that pesky stencil, that's a slightly different story.  I have only stencilled one full wall thus far, and even that was a feat!  I was very optimistic in the first few hours - embracing the imperfection and really liking the result, but eight hours into the excitement, I was starting to feel that the stencil was laughing at me.

Here's a recap of what took so long:

Measure once; Stencil 1000 times.

I drew a level line for my first stencil application, which for some reason I decided to do in the middle of the main wall, though it's recommended to start in an inconspicuous corner.

With a handy little roller I applied a thin layer of paint twice, which worked well each time .

If the stencil isn't totally flat on the wall (or if there's the too much paint on it), runaway paint is inevitable.  Not sure about latex paint, but the non-toxic stuff cleaned up with a Q-tip or paper towel very easily.

I let my first block dry about 10 minutes before continuing.  After that, I alternated going right, left, up and down so that each block had a bit of time to dry before I taped onto it to do the next one.

When it came time to align the the stencil on two sides, I realized that each block wasn't exactly level... My solution was to align on one side and leave a gap on the other - see the blank patterns.

The Stencilling set came with an extra short row, so I later went back and filled in just the centres of the blanks.

Meanwhile, I was loving the sheen of the paint!  It adds a lot more dimension to the wall and creates a bit of a wallpaper illusion, but only from afar.

Thanks to the smell-less-ness of my project, my daughter was able to nap in the room while I painted, and when she woke up I was glad to finally have someone make sure that the level definitely - 10/10 times - fit into the roll of tape.  At this point I was able to finish painting the window wall, and retire for the day.

I decided to paint the window wall solid because:

  • I didn't want the entire room to be busy.  This is the unaccent wall, if you will.
  • I wanted the view out the window to be framed by a light canvas, so that the treetops would stand out.
  • The white wall will really make my roman blind pop - which is #2 on the agenda.

And here is the glorious "After" of my first ever stencilling adventure!

You can see that the design doesn't go flush with the the ends of the wall; the clean border around the perimeter is neat and even, which is the best I could hope for for my first time.

I think the stencil looks superb; it's the blend I need of David Hicks' midcentury design, and Russian historic embellishments.  I can't wait to see the whole room finished, however, I am dreading the thought of the process a little...

March 16, 2013

Jumping Off

As my luck would have it, just as I was about to get started on my makeover last week, I was debilitated by a cold.  Now that I am finally better, I am ready to jump in head first and try to catch up on the time I've missed.

As you'll see in the photos below, there is nothing really wrong with the bedroom aside from it being too basic.  Basic = boring = boo!  I've been dreaming of adding some life to these walls for a long time, and am thrilled to finally be getting to it.  Everything in the room has been moved besides the bed, since we will be sleeping here during the minor chaos.  Now all I need are my paint tools!

I have opted to try stencilling this time since I've never done it before.  I think an interesting pattern is exactly what this door-laden wall needs, since I can't hang art or put furniture there.

And now...Spoiler Alert!  I jumped the gun on the headboard.  And since the bed isn't going anywhere, here is there most unepic reveal ever!  

That's the IKEA bed from my mood board, with the headboard upholstered.  

When my husband brought it home, it was important to upholster it before he assembled the bed, so we quickly took care of that without really documenting the process.  The gist is:  Foam + fabric.  Cut + stretch + staple. voila!

This ink-blot fabric I used looks rather contemporary, but it is actually fabric that my mother bought back when she was in school!  I found it in our apartment in Russia last summer, and brought it home.  My mother now hates it, and can't imagine why she ever bought it.  Luckily (only for me), I rather like it and think it'll be perfect in this room!

With the first fabric chosen (and already put to work) I proceeded to choose a paint colour that I would use for my stencil.  This "Smoky" colour seemed to be the perfect neutral to go with the headboard.

Thank goodness I splurged (a whole $6) for a sample!  Though the colour looks great against the headboard, it was "too cool" for the wall colour, and for my liking in general.

Back in my sample booklet I chose a warmer colour from the same family.  Hopefully "Satin Weave" will play nicer with the current wall colour, because I ordered a gallon...stay tuned to see if made the right choice!

March 08, 2013

March 8th: Holiday, Birthday, and a DIY!

Happy International Women's Day to all the lady readers out there!  

The name of this holiday is somewhat misleading since most people outside of Russia don't know of it.
In our household however, this day has taken on an even greater importance since the birth of my beautiful daughter at 9:28pm this day last year.  So, in honour of her first birthday I am creating a very special art display to star in my soon-to-be made over bedroom.

When on holiday in Vladivostok, I always seem to return with some old family stuff.  One year I took a stack of vintage greeting cards from our apartment - many of which were dedicated to March 8th.  They, as most precious things, lived in the basement for many years, but when Vasilisa was born I immediately knew I would somehow utilize the postcards for her first birthday.

I really wanted to display them in a unique way; I thought of doing a collage, or pasting them onto a canvas, using a cork board behind glass in some way, but I wasn't really inspired by any of those ideas.

Finally inspiration struck when a few weeks ago I saw a post on Young House Love about making a floating image in a frame - it immediately spoke to me.  Having a backless frame elevates the art (no pun intended) a bit, and immediately stands out more that a regularly framed picture.  I'd never had floating art before, and so, I was very excited to copy this project!

I scoured several thrift stores in search of the perfect frame or two, but was shocked at the limited options and high price tags.  Instead, I collected a bunch of my old frames and sprayed them for a cohesive look.

I removed the backs and glass, and even taped off the sides of two frames to keep the wood grain - just for some extra dimension in the end.  

Following the instructions on the can, I sprayed a few coats of an antique white (yellowy cream) gloss paint.

Et voila!  Good as new, you could almost mistake them for Homesense...

When the paint dried nice and hard, I flipped over each frame and hammered a sawtooth hook to the centre.

After the hooks were safely and securely attached, I proceed to add a bit of super-glue to the inset lip, and then placed the glass in.

And then, another line of glue over the glass to bond the glass securely to the frame edge.

A few minutes, and the glass was set and ready for the artwork!  When I saw Sherry's frame my first thought was "how did she attach the art?!"  Well, it couldn't be simpler - tape...  A thin sliver at the top and bottom, and it looks like magic!

In no time, my special project was done, and I couldn't be happier with it!  This might not be the way I arrange the frames on the wall, but I'm sure liking the way the floating cards look in each one - they seem somehow fresher and updated without a backing.  

And the best part is that each image inadvertently celebrates my little girl's birthday!

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