Sunday, June 24, 2012

Behind the Scenes: Project Resurface

When P moved in, that meant moving all of his things in too, and finding a good fit for everything. The biggest project of our move soon became the idea to resurface the old dressers and nightstand that he had.

Funny story: when P and I discussed the idea of sanding and re-staining the pieces to brighten them up, he said, "I'm fine with it, I think it is a great idea, but these things have been around for a while, so I think we should discuss it with my parents before we do anything to alter them."

So the nerves started building.. How will they react when they find out that their son's girlfriend wants to sand down these pieces that they have had in the family for ages?! How will we even begin to explain this idea to them, and convince them it is a good thing? And most importantly... What if they say no!! And here's the kicker.. P says, "I think since it was such a good idea, you should tell them about it and see what they think." Great, so now I have to do all the talking too! Ugh!

So when we went down for Easter weekend, I broached the subject. "So, um, well, you know those really wonderful bedroom pieces that P has...?" I explained what we were thinking.. and without hesitation, they both said "What furniture is that? Sure, we don't care, it's P's stuff, he can do what he wants with it!"

All that build up for nothing! Meanwhile P was laughing in the background, because he totally set me up! Rude!

Anyhow, with his parents blessing, we got to sanding. Here are the before's, and some of us in the process of removing the old stain:

The wardrobe pre-DBK treatment.
Close-up of the door detail--minus hardware.

What? You don't use power tools in heels and business attire?

Neither do I really.. working on the wardrobe.

P helping with the process.

After completing the sanding process, the next thing to do is apply the stain. Dip a rag in the stain, and then rub from one side to the other in long even strokes. you don't want to see where you stopped and started the line. You also want to be aware of the drips, and try and soak them up before they soak into the wood, and remain visible on the piece. Of course if you hate how it turns out, you can re-sand, and re-stain later, but try to avoid that if possible, as it is hard work! If you have never stained before, try your hand at an area on the back or a side that may end up less visible once the piece is in place.  Here I  am, working on the nightstand, during the staining process:

Breaking most of the above rules.. do as I say, not as I do.
We did two coats of the stain, and used a product with a sealer in it so we didn't need to do that additional step. (In the future, I wouldn't mind buying and applying a clear poly glazing coat to add some shine, and ultimately finish up the piece.) For me, this project was a learning process. I thought it was going to be immensely easier than it turned out to be. However, I learned a lot, and love the final product. Note: wear gloves when staining, unless you want to stain your skin as well...
Here are the finished stained pieces:

The third piece was a low dresser, that after P began to sand, we found out was just a veneer of fake wood. Aka, not something you want to sand down. So we opted to do something much simpler... spray paint! For those of you who have never spray painted anything, I strongly recommend finding something small around your house that needs a fresh coat of paint, and using spray paint to do the job. It is so much fun! (Maybe those are the fumes talking though, so be careful when spray-painting your own items, and don't be upset with me if you don't like the outcome!)

We chose a medium brown, in a satin finish, and sprayed away. If you don't have a good place outside your home to spray, I recommend doing it in your back or side yard. You will have to pay extra attention to the areas around the bottom of the piece where the grass blades may block the spray, but your grass will grow out and be mowed, so all evidence of spray-painting will disappear. In fact, here we are in our side yard durring the spray-paint process: 

Pre-spray-paint, you can vaguely see where we attempted sanding it .

Having a blast spray-painting!

P beginning to realize why spray-painting is so much fun.

Here are the pieces as they sit, all together in what is our office space. We don't have enough room in the bedroom to fit all of our dressers, so we keep a lot of our clothes in the great room. The spray-painted low dresser acts like a console table, the resurfaced nightstand acts as a printer cabinet (and holds a lot of our office supplies too), and the big stained wardrobe sits along the wall, just as it is, a nice piece of furniture.  No the pieces aren't perfect, and no we may not keep them forever, but it was a great project. I think we may have even had a little team-building along the way. They fit nicely in our space, and serve there purposes well.
Here is the finished low dresser:

Sometimes in making a small space work, you have to put large pieces in rooms, and niches, you wouldn't normally think to put them. There is no cookie cutter answer for how things need to be positioned. You will need to layout a new floor plan for almost any space you inhabit. But then, that is half the fun!

Feel free to comment, email me, etc., to let me know what is on your mind, I love hearing from you all. Until next week, Happy Designing!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

How Refreshing

Picking up where I left off with my rant lecture sage advice from last week, I think it is important to know that you do not always have to buy new!

What does this mean? How does one actually create a cohesive space with old, tattered, and used pieces? It can be daunting depending on the scale of the project, but it doesn't have to be.

If you have old pieces that you love for their size, shape, purpose, etc., but they no longer fit you stylistically, it is an easy-ish fix. Example:  Take these pieces that my friend Lauren did:

Malm Head-board and night stands, Previously in Espresso, Now in Blue!

Lauren had these pieces (Malm series from Ikea) from her previous space. Like many of us, we find sleek and inexpensive pieces for our spaces that fit our needs--budget, function, size, color, etc.--for now, and then later, our taste, space, and overall needs and wants change. When Lauren moved into her lovely new home, she decided to pick out this bright blue color from her great bedspread, and paint her bed frame and night stands. She has not only added this great color to her room, creating a focal point, she has also drilled holes and added great little nobs to the night stands!

This is a great showcase of how a little bit of paint and creativity can make a huge difference in your space!

Another fun project is to shop local yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores, you can find great pieces for an awesome price, to leave as is, or to refresh for your own space! Example: Take this refreshed and repurposed piece from family friend Lisa.

New coffee table repurposed from old cabinet doors
Lisa found this piece in pretty bad shape on craigslist. After using a chemical stripper to remove the old finish, Lisa went through the grueling process of sanding the piece completely by hand. When the piece was prepped she applied her chosen stain with a stain cloth. Sanding between layers for smoothness, Lisa applied three layers of a clear polyurethane finish, to seal and protect. In addition to the sanding and staining Lisa did, she also repaired the trip work by re-tacking it. This piece is so beautifully done!

The scale and geometric shape work well in this space with the geometric area rug and the scale of the surrounding furnishings. The stain is perfect too, they went with something not too dark as to completely hide the grain of the wood and with enough red to compliment the adjacent dining set, and pull out the reds in the surrounding textiles. Such a rustic, funcional and great piece!

Another great weekend project (or in Lisa's case with all that hand-sanding, it took a couple of weeks) that adds a lot of character to your space. A project like this is a great way to get exactly what you want, making sure that you get a piece that matches your own design style and decor.

Thanks ladies for submitting your DIY projects, they are amazing, and add so much to your individual spaces!

Next week: look for a behind-the-scenes look at how P and I worked together to refresh some older furnishings we were moving into our space.

Happy Designing! As always, don't hesitate to comment with questions of your own, email me design spaces you adore or just let me know what you think about this or other posts. See you next week!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

And the Winner Is..

Today we shall discuss the following: the winner of the couch contest, which couch we are anxiously awaiting, and the importance of an investment piece mingling with other budget wise pieces.

First up.. thank you all for being good sports and taking a stab at selecting our sofa. I hope you had as much fun guessing as I had reading your guesses. There were a few people with bonus entries for sharing the post, and some friends who commented on the Facebook post, instead of the blog post, that I decided to count as well.. in total, there were 12 names in the hat..

And the winner is.... Ashlee H.  Congratulations! Would you like to know where your gift card is for? 

On to the second point of today's post. After much deliberation, we went with the Davis from Crate & Barrel, in Almond. Funny enough, Ashlee was one of two people who actually guessed the sofa correctly! A $25 gift card for Crate & Barrel is on its way to her!
Davis in Almond By Crate & Barrel
Perfectly transitioning me into point three...
Although $25 isn't enough to purchase an investment piece with, it will be nice to add a little something special to her home.
There is something to be said about moving into your own place and the rush of excitement that comes along with that. For me, moving into my first solo pad, I chose to put the bulk of my cash into a good quality mattress (a girl needs her beauty rest). Interestingly enough, this is a piece that nobody but me (and now P) will ever see. 
Eagerly wanting to furnish the rest of my home, I scoured the IKEA catalogue, and found the remaining necessary pieces, from the bed-frame, to the entertainment center, to the sofa that is now being replaced. 
The thing is, there is nothing wrong with doing it this way. In fact there is not rule that says "immediately upon moving into your new home, you must produce furnishings for every niche." This is false! 

It is not necessary to fill your entire home upon moving in! Next week I will touch on this more, but sometimes it gives more character, speaks more to who you are, and what your style is, to make it a home in phases. Invest in one main piece that you love, and will use a lot-- like a sofa-- and build around it. Whether with free chairs from the side of the road that you buy slip covers for (my first place in Seattle) or with inexpensive build-it-yourself pieces (my first solo place), or with pieces collected through the years that you end up refinishing to make work in your new setting, everything can come together beautifully, to make your house a home.

As you live, move, and grow, so will your personal taste. That $5 nightstand from a tag sale years ago, may be a perfect fit size-wise, but may be way to dark for your new bedding. Buy some light, white, or colorful spray-paint, and change it up! Make your furnishings last with you, and change with your taste. When P moved in we did a lot of changing up of furnishings. Next week, I will fill in the dots on this. 

The point I am failing to make is, you do not need to spend thousands of dollars in a day to make a beautiful home. Your home will be lived in, eclectic, and a great representation of you. Start with one good place, and build up from there!

Thanks again for entering the contest, congrats to Ashlee, and most of all Happy Designing! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Couch Contest!

So, if you recall, way back to my first post, my current sofa is a white, futon-type, foldable couch from IKEA. It was well built, by yours truly, and has survived countless moves.

Here is a picture with our living room, the floor screen came down, but the rest is as shown.
It was perfect for my first studio space: The lack of arms made it look bigger, while still fitting in a tight space. It has standard love-seat dimensions, but could squeeze 3 (uncomfortably). I have grown out of it, as I knew I eventually would. I have never really loved the piece, but it has filled the need.

Now that P is here with me, we have a bigger space, and a need for a place for friends and relatives to be able to crash. It was time to find a new sofa, that can work in our lives for the long haul. 

I'm going to walk you through the process of where we looked, and how we narrowed down our search. You can see our current space above. I want you to leave a comment, and guess what we purchased, or tell me what you think the best option would be. No matter if you are correct, as long as you leave me a comment with your email address (so I can contact you if you win), and follow the link to like our new Facebook page, you will be entered to win a gift card to the store we purchased it from!

Here is the process we started with:
We started by making a  list of qualities that we both wanted from the sofa. 
We were looking for: 
clean lines
a full or queen pull-out bed
a solid or mostly solid upholstery fabric
short legs (if any at all)
something super cozy, that we could really snuggle into, and relax on 

We spent some time online researching our options, and making a list of sofas to look at that met our requirements, and were affordable in our budget. After browsing several websites, we narrowed it down to Crate & Barrel, Ethan Allen, IKEA, and West Elm.

We spent several hours working with wonderful, informative, and helpful sales-people. We sat on a lot of couches (for long periods of time). This is such an important step for an investment piece. You want to make sure that you not only find it visually suitable for your space, but also, you will enjoy the hours you spend using the piece. 

We had to take the options from IKEA and Ethan Allen, out. We were down to 2 sofas, from West Elm, and Crate & Barrel, and the respective fabric options for those pieces. 

Enough with the jabber, let me show you what they are! In alphabetical order...

First up is the Davis Sleeper Sofa, by Crate & Barrel. Here it is in all of the color ways we liked:
Davis in Mink

Davis in Bisque
Davis in Almond

Davis in Mocha
Davis in Graphite

The second style is the Henry Sleeper by West Elm. Here are the color ways we were interested in:

Henry in Ivory
Henry in Natural

Henry in Fawn 
Henry in Gravel
Henry in Espresso

So there you have it. 10 options.. what? You are overwhelmed? Just take a guess! Let me know what you think we ended up with and why you picked it. What would you choose? Go with your instinct! 

Make sure to follow this link and like our Facebook page, and then leave me a comment with your pick, and your email (so I can contact the winner). 

Good luck, and Happy Designing!