Stencilling a Subfloor: a budget friendly makeover

Ah, this was a project I planned to tackle before we even moved into our house just over two years ago.  How time flies!

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Perhaps you’ve already read about my first stencilling project?  Well, I knew that the solution to the stained (and in my opinion very unappealing) master suite carpeting was to rip it out and stencil just like I’d done to the apartment kitchen.  I even decided to stick with the same colours  and pattern!  According to the mix information I purchased the paint for this before we even moved… and here I am finally done with it.

I began tearing up the carpet on Monday the 13th thinking that with luck I could be done for the weekend.  Ha!  I just completed it on Thursday and only did so by opting not to clear coat.  (I’d wanted to do everything properly and thus apply several coats and let it dry for days as directed, but that meant not stepping into the room until next week, doing things in stages thanks to furniture issues, plus a lot of work… nah.  It’s good.)

Here is a before picture showing the carpeting.  It seems I did not take many photos of the room before we moved in, and you do not see the brown mystery stains here.  Any shades of tan, beige, and brown have never been my thing, and by the time I finally began tearing it out the carpet had additional pulls and damage.  It was beyond time to go.

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It was easiest to start inside the closets, and oh look!  A mystery stain!

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The padding underneath was actually really nice, but it had to go since I wasn’t about to put in another dust collecting carpet.  Annoyingly, previous workers had been rather careless with spackle and paint which left the floor a bit lumpy.  I didn’t want to try sanding anything though, because with the plywood it seemed weird to.

This was a lot of work, and I didn’t quite finish removing the carpet on day one.  I’d begun thinking it was perfect timing to bring the trash out for collection the next morning, and it ended up being 12 contractor bags full at the kerb not counting what was still on the floor when I quit for the evening.  At this point I may have been having a second thought or two.  The were about two million staples to find and pull up!

Last time when I stencilled the apartment kitchen floor I neglected to prime first.  That was not to be skipped now!  When I was nearly done brushing it on I noticed that the can said it wasn’t meant to be used on flooring.  Oops.  Perhaps it would have been better to stick with only the floor paint after all and no primer?

It looked a lot cleaner after priming anyway.  The next day I brushed on a few coats of the base colour.  In the apartment I’d regretted having the edges dark since it showed dust bunnies too well, but I ended up doing the same thing here with the navy blue exposed at the edges.  Actually, I was very close to switching to the grey except that I’d already completed the cutting in and taping for the navy.  In the end I suppose it works out better in this case to have the darker one at the edges to disappear better under the heaters and disguise imperfections?

I filled in most gaps which included rough cuts around doors and a lot of gaps in the landing area.  I’m unsure why they never installed any trim there and had to add some myself.  I really don’t like quarter round and always opt for cove moulding instead.  Rather than wood I used the foam stuff thinking it would curve with the “tower” wall, but the piece I had ended up snapping around a nail, so I filled the wide gap instead.  Eh, it works?

Previously I had made a painted border, and I wanted to again, because I think it looks more complete with one, but I was intimidated by the idea of taping a curve.  Whether this room would end up with a border or not was up in the air until I actually attempted to tape.  It wasn’t bad at all with just a bit of care and finessing.  I was rather proud of myself!  😀

The navy had an entire holiday weekend to cure before taping and stencilling.  I only eyeballed the distance from walls and tried to account for projecting bits of trim to balance with the baseboard heating units.  No portion is perfect, but I am entirely pleased with the results.

It was at this point that I considered switching to grey for the outside border, but I’d not trimmed the tape or planned for that.  The navy matches very well with the bits of carpet on the stairs too, and that helped me decide to keep it as the main colour.  So, another line of tape was added within the perimeter of this.  Just look at this!  So proud!  😀

Before quitting for the day I wanted to complete the border by brushing on the navy to seal the edges and then two coats of the grey.  I peeled up the inner tape before anything dried too much in hopes that it wouldn’t lift any layers that weren’t supposed to.  Success.

In the kitchen I’d measured and begun the pattern symmetrically, because the room was narrow.  Here I decided that the most important focal point was the space between the entry door as one walks up to the landing, so I began there.

 

This is how far I made it the first day:

And finally I was done late on day two and just barely with enough paint in the tray for the last bit:

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Working on a much wider room was a challenge, and I had a difficult time keeping the pattern on track.  It isn’t perfect, but I’m still quite pleased with everything.  Here is the tour starting with the landing:

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Standing in the corner is one of the steamer trunks that my paternal great-grandfather used when he left Slovakia in 1900.  Each of my uncles has one or two, I’m told, and my parents had two but kept this “uglier” one in the damp basement (and mum painted the “nice” one, sigh.)  I rescued it a couple of years ago, washing and waxing away rust and mildew and treating the leather, but the bottom (back here) is falling apart.  😦  It is a fairly awkward item to keep around, but I don’t want to lose a rare bit of family history, and so here it lives.

Last fall I scored an older one, with at curved top, free from a neighbour after it didn’t sell at their yard sale and about to be tossed!  It is also in less than excellent condition but has a nice look with neat metal reinforcements at the edges and lovely bare wood. I’m going to let it dry out this summer then preserve it.  I’ll be sure to write about it here.

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For the photos I decided to set up the cradle that I refinished to match the bed (which I also stained and waxed to have a greyed Restoration Hardware look.)

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L and I are much happier now with the room and feel like it finally has our style.  I’m also glad to be rid of the dust-trapping aspect of carpet and look forward to a much easier time when vacuuming.  The only thing that I might do something about are the closet doors and trim colour.  It would be a pain, but it could be worth gel-staining the wood to a darker tone?  I’d really like to paint it but think that would be a shame to do and will not, but a deeper shade could make a big difference.  The trim already looks significantly better here than it used to having been touched up to hide strange fading and wear.  As for the doors, they are loud and feel flimsy.  Depending on measurements I could rig up some Ikea PAX sliding doors or something one day?

Next I’ll have to finish painting the bathroom.  Colour goes a long way, and paint disguised the nasty formica-like vanity, but one day we hope to renovate it.  I’m sure that will be many years from now if ever, but it doesn’t stop me from envisioning marble tile and some sort of wonderful tub.

 

The Exterior Staining Project: Beyond Halfway

The house staining project is… going.  I’m more than halfway through now, and it looks very nice, but the going is slow thanks to ladder troubles, weather, and energy levels.  I’ve found that I cannot set up the 32′ extension ladder by myself.  I can shift it around once it is up, but whenever it needs to be brought to a different area altogether I have to wait for L.  This has caused a big delay, because fully half or more of the best weather days went unused for staining.  I thought I’d have finished by now.

I knew the siding was calling for some stain, but I hadn’t realised just how badly it was needed until I began.  The difference is dramatic here

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After doing the back section of the kitchen addition I headed up to the roof.  The siding on the upper addition was in rough shape, and I wanted to coat it as soon as I could after pressure washing lichens and stuff off of the wood.  It would be a nice little boost to feelings of productivity too, being a smaller section, and I love to spend a warm fall day on the roof anyway.

Reaching the highest areas was an obstacle, but I was surprisingly comfortable with this set-up.  It worked out just fine:

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Last week I was focused on finishing the front of the house.  The big ladder had finally arrived, and I quickly stained the living room section.  Yay!

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Then I ran into trouble.  The big ladder was actually too tall to use on the upper landing at the front door, because it extended beyond the gutters and held me too far away from the siding to reach decently (if at all,) so I had to switch back to the telescoping thing which feels very bouncy and fun.

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It wasn’t awful to do that first corner using the telescoping ladder, but I found myself very nervous when I began the next section over.  To reach the very top I’d have to climb above the gutter that it was leaning against, and I didn’t trust the gutter very much, and the sway of the ladder was unnerving too.  I couldn’t bring myself to go high enough without the “support” that the corner had provided.  So, I moved onto the portion reached by the extension ladder.  It felt gloriously stabile!  However, it was also resting on the gutter, and while I could stain to the left, my brain wasn’t happy with the idea of looking to my right or brushing beyond the centre of my body.  Seeing the drop off of the landing made me freak out that the thing would crash down or something to the right.  The left was perfectly fine thanks to the visual mass of the house… despite that actually being no help at all.  Silly brain!

Therefore I switched to the back of the house and completed the lower level.

Over the weekend we drove up to visit my family, and the scary-ladder topic came up (with much agreement that they are indeed unnerving.)  On Monday I got back to work and no longer found myself fearful after all.  Great!  So, I finished what I could reach with the ladder on the landing and also moved it to the steps to get the patch that I’d missed before.  A cinderblock and board helped with levelling.  No problem still.

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The front was so close to completion, but I was stuck without any help.  The weather remained dry and favourable although cold, but the ladder needed to be brought down to the driveway to get over the garage.  I used very little time on Monday before hitting a standstill due to the ladder.  Tuesday was wasted too.  😦

Yesterday L. worked from home and moved the ladder twice.  First we brought it from the front steps, where I’d dragged it on Monday, down to the driveway so that I could complete the front of the house.  I was so excited that it would look good to all the people walking by!  However, nerves got to me again.  We struggled to set up the ladder but eventually did get it in place.  The feet had been slipping a lot on the hard surface while we were setting it up, and that bothered me a bit.  On top of that it was now extended much more than before and was flexing like crazy.  I began scampering up to test it, and I didn’t go quite halfway before feeling uncertain.  Maybe I could have steeled my nerves, but with L. only able to help so much it seemed more productive to leave the front and take the ladder to the back of the house where I was certainly able to work.  L. encouraged me to climb down immediately, and we brought the ladder to the back.  There I was perfectly comfortable with the more calming landscape (with decently flat grass, the rise of the hill behind me, and a tall neighbouring house set above us rather than the hard surface, visual drop off of the hillside, retaining wall, street, and neighbouring homes far below.)

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Annoyingly I had to stop working for an appointment in mid-afternoon which kept me from finishing the section before today’s rain.  Otherwise the back would have been totally done leaving the pathetic patch of the front and each side of the house remaining.

Today we have nasty, cold, rainy weather all day.  While tomorrow is going to be dry and Saturday warm with some sun I doubt I’ll do any staining due to weekend plans with L.  There will be rain on Sunday, and on Monday I have an appointment to set up our second round of IVF.  By Tuesday things will be dry.  I’ll have to do as much as I can before it rains again on Friday, but it looks like it will be nicer and warmer than I was expecting.  Surely I’m running out of time in that regard, so wish me luck that I can finish this thing!

Meanwhile I have neglected to do any gardening posts all season long since spring.  Perhaps through the winter I’ll share gardening cheer and photos between projects?  Currently I have some bulbs left to plant, but that isn’t conducive to pretty “job complete” photos, heh.  I surprised myself with a shipment of fall bulbs that I ordered in spring.  Just as I hoped, I completely forgot about them until I received a tracking email, and it was fun to figure out what was on the way.  In fact, I had to search each bulb on the website to see what they were.

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I’ve already planted a few bags but still have to get to the rest.  Leaves have fallen everywhere and are in the way, but nice days are meant for staining not raking.  Last year’s saffron began sprouting up a couple of weeks ago, but I only found one or two shoots of this year’s planting.  Either the squirrels messed with them or the vendor isn’t as reliable. (I believe it was the squirrels.)

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The garden has looked about like this since mid-August, but it will not for much longer.  We almost had frost these past few nights.  Of course one of the black pearl pepper plants, planted in April, finally began blooming!  There are two tiny peppers on it now.

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Due to the cold weather I brought in the three hanging planters with black petunias in hopes of keeping them blooming all winter, but we’ll see how that goes.  Here they looked nice against the new red on a warmer day:

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Happy Halloween! (18th century goth)

Once again I have neglected this blog.  Often I find it hard to write and actually complete projects.  Also, I lost the habit of writing this summer, but I plan to begin again.

Halloween is my favourite day of the year.  I’ve always wanted to dress up in strange costumes, so of course Halloween is the outlet for that.  (This year I happen to be turning 30 as well, but I always like to use my birthday as an excuse for Halloween extravagance.)  Sadly I did not make a new costume this year, but I am reusing a Borg Queen ensemble that I spent a lot of time on last year.  I never got any decent photos of it, so I have to today!  I’d have liked to add to it by making a more elaborate body for it, but it just wasn’t in the cards this time.  Hopefully it will still look pretty cool.

For now I will show another old costume.  I spent many hours making it.  Most of it was stitched by hand, and it was very involved with many layers before the visible ensemble.  The clothing of the 18th century really inspires me, so I decided to make a goth outfit in a fairly accurate style and method.

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Now for the layers:

Bum roll This is a bum roll, and it helps give the skirt back a nice shape.  I don’t seem to have photos of the pocket panniers which shape the hips.  They also make the best purses ever!  (I could fit an entire SLR camera and all my other stuff in them!)

pin strawberry I made a little linen and wool pincushion strawberry just for fun.  Clothing was often secured with straight pins back then, so I wanted a nice pin keeper.

shift, garters, and stockings back undergarments stays 

petticoat and pocket panniers front petticoat and panniers back

stomacher on

gown back cloak and mask

I added a cut leather mask from Etsy.  (I replaced the elastic with strings of heavy hematite beads that secure it by their weight over the ears.)

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Skyrim and 18th C goth

DIY Re-upholstering a Sofa part III… Taking it Apart and Replacing Foam

Hi!  I know that I haven’t been posting enough, but that is changing.  The freelance thing that made life entirely insane for three months has come to an end (just in time for me to enjoy some of the summer and take a vacation to my husband’s birth-country to meet his father for the first time.  W00t!)  I have a lot of projects in the works, and today have finally been able to transfer thousands of photos onto the computer from my phone.  (For several weeks this was not working, and it was the reason I never ended up being able to post when I had found time.  Very frustrating!)  Today I want to accomplish as much as I can, but there a some topics you can look forward to: a lot more garden and flower photos, installing a functional clothesline, completion of the sewing/work room, refinishing chairs, fancy accent pillow tutorials, basement/garage moisture remediation and waterproofing, more improvements to the master and main baths, and re-upholstering several items.

For example, yesterday I jumped into the very messy and very involved project of reupholstering the vintage sofa which I wrote about this spring.  As of this morning it has been torn apart, and I have all the materials required to make it a sofa again, but I’ll admit that it is a daunting task given how it looks.  This morning: foamless

I had to tear out the the seat deck padding and foam, which I hadn’t done last time, because of a pet problem.  This meant an unexpected trip to Joann’s in the afternoon to purchase some 1″ foam.  Luckily it happened to be 40% off!  (Upholstery foam is rather expensive.  Not much about upholstering in cheap, to be fair, but DIY is still far less than sending it to a professional.)  Now with the new seat deck foam in place, and the new cushion temporarily there too:

this morning new seat deck foam

Still quite the mess, but sweeping the hundreds of sharp staples and dust out of the way made for a less tiring view.  Today I’ll sew in a muslin seat deck and upholster a base over padding with muslin before cutting the real fabric.  I’m using a heavy linen, but I suspect that a muslin base will be wise.  It will also let me decide if I actually like the look of certain changes I am making, like using a one-piece inner arm instead of a corded and more tailored two piece style.

Yesterday I wrapped the new seat cushion foam in batting.  It isn’t too much of a pain.  Just lay the foam on the batting and spray both with upholstery adhesive before smoothing them together.  Trim the edges.  You only want the batting to cover the top, underside, and front edge of the cushion.

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I took this as a before photo.  Sorry it is not much.

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Then I started by taking off the cambric underneath:

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Next I tore off the welting, unstapled the back, outer sides, inner sides, and finally the seat deck.  I cut and left the front portion from some previous upholstering to make life easier, and I left my and other previous upholsterer’s work on the arms too.  Don’t mess with anything that is doing just fine.  😉

Then I sanded the frame some.  I have to continue that now.  Afterwards I’ll use wood glue to strengthen any wobbly joints.  I want to stain and wax it to match the coffee and dining table.  I still need to hand sew the cushion cover closed.  Then I can do the muslin base and eventually cut the linen.  When I bought the linen I allowed for a couple of extra yards over my calculations, but the yardage is very little according to charts.  I figured it carefully, but I only bought 13yds, as I recall.  This sofa is 8′ or 9′ long and all charts advise somewhere around 20yds for a large sofa.  Luckily this one is short, sparing in use of fabric, and I have the experience of already doing it once before… with a velvet of all things!  I eeked it by with 12yds of velvet, so I am confident with the easier to place linen, but I still must be cautious in cutting without any silly mistake and must have a plan for the layout.  The linen was super inexpensive as far as upholstery fabrics go, but no one wants to waste, eh?

Next time I’ll show how to construct and stitch down the seat deck.  While I am here writing let me share photos of some pretty fabrics I saw at Mood.  I used a similar velvet ikat styled fabric in greys for our kitchen chairs a couple of years ago.  The damask style teal velvet is one I used on a settee going on ten years ago and my desk chair.  I really love it an how well it holds up to use and cat fur.

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Here are swatches of some that I have been dreaming of for future projects.  Too bad they are far to costly for me have used for the sofa!  I’m tempted to yet again re-do the big circular chair (that I already upholstered twice in a few years) with one of the really fancy fabrics.  Actually, I have to re-do a recliner too, but I must keep in mind the sofa it will be near (for a while,) annoyingly.  It is so hard to choose!

ikat velvets desk chair teal and awesome black pretty, pretty

The velvet ikats are fun, but I already know I will not use them.  What is super difficult to decide on are the others.  I always intended to use the damask teal, but now I am unsure.  I adore the black and grey one pictured with it.  That is more forgiving in colour too.  I really like the purples in the other velvets, but those are not good choices for the round chair.  Maybe the darkest one with the large design, and the light grey one?  I suppose I’ll decide after the sofa is complete.  As for the recliner, it will be in the basement with the rust colour-way sofa.  Purple and teals aren’t compatible with it at all,sadly, and even the neutral colour ways aren’t compatible in style.  😦  That sofa is slated to be replaced some day, according to the husband, but it may be years.  I’ll have to keep thinking, because I’d love to use the lighter purple!  They are all so pretty.

Basement Improvements

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So many projects, and so little time.  Each weekend I am trying to tackle something.  However, a few must be devoted to seeing family and friends, and the to-do list is longer than ever.  About a month ago I had a few days off and used them to work on as many home improvements as possible.  The ugly unfortunate looking finished part of the basement was something I’d really been looking forward to making some changes to.  Truly it was the most un-apealling area of our home, and it needed some help.

First of all, it still had a pile of unpacked boxes in the corner (soaking up water too, I found, yuck.)  Then there was the tangled nest of cords that irked me.  (Right after moving my husband wanted the TV set up, and he did it himself since I was otherwise occupied.  He and I have different takes on cable management, so there was a nest of unknown wires clumped behind the console for months until I got around to beautifying the basement.)  😀  Aside from these eyesores close to half of the walls had somewhat white paint that was very dingy and marked up.  The remaining majority were vintage wood paneling.  The floating floor has a bit of a moisture problem and is bouncy and uneven with rot underneath, and I have plans to eventually rip it out, waterproof, and install tile.  The baseboard trim was very beaten up, scratched, and generally looked bad.  Some wasn’t even stained, clear coated, or painted at all.  It still isn’t, actually.  There is a drop ceiling, which I don’t prefer but understand the need for, but it has the big oblong kind of tiles with the institutional worm-eaten finish that just doesn’t scream cosy or anything pleasant.  With the moisture and their size they sag unattractively too.  My plan is to replace them with square tiles that have a smooth and recessed finish, like this.  Oh, and there were dark luan doors with chipped, shiny-brass handles and really old vertical blinds blocking the casement window.  Sounds great, right?

Here are my before photos:

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Funny how it doesn’t look so bad in photos.

So, I took down the blinds and changed the door knobs to my preferred brushed nickel.  Much better!  At first I thought that a cheerful yellow would liven up the space and go well with the tone of the Pergo, the panelling, the sofa fabric, and so on in spite of it being out of character and my husband detesting the idea.  I tried it anyway, and didn’t like it at all either. Probably I chose the wrong yellow, but I went ahead and wasted a few hours only to decide to repaint immediately.  Our favoured grey was yet again the answer, I thought, but it took a moment to settle between the lovely paint, “polished limestone,” from the hallway upstairs and master bath or “silver tinsel” from my sewing room and the flat I lived in before moving into my husband’s.  Note: I should come up with something to call him on this blog, because it feels really odd to keep repeating “my husband!”

Afterwards I painted the worn out trim and one of the doors with “coconut ice.”  I think it was the biggest and best change.  Now I am considering to paint the panelling as well in the grey and the rest of the trim.  It could look nice and sort of like the New England seashore, but I’m nervous to make such a permanent alteration.  I’ll hold off on that decision a long while.

Yellow:

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… and the grey:

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Last weekend we were near a Restoration Hardware outlet when visiting family and had a nice time browsing and dreaming.  My husband really liked certain heavy and sort of Spanish-medieval styled stuff that I think is a bit much, but we also found some things to agree on.  I prefer more simple and rustic things mostly.  We are searching for a media console, and I might try to transform a thrifted one if I can, but it was helpful to discuss what we like and don’t like.  Besides this he has found that he loves leather chesterfield sofas and ottomans, and we are dreaming of replacing ours.  It is all fun to contemplate: the floor tile, furniture options, and such.

I want to mention and link to two wonderful things that we have in the media room.  First of all is Litter Robot.  It is hands down the most amazing appliance I can think of besides refrigeration.  I’ve had cats all of my life, too many cats at once according to most standards, and Litter Robot has been a wonderful change.  It is really expensive (Jebus, I think they raised the price a couple hundred too!,) but since it actually works and doesn’t bog down or break like the other automatic litter solutions that I’ve tried I have to recommend it highly.  I do save a lot on litter compared to a regular box too.  Unfortunately, my husband’s cat never adapted to it, and I need to provide a normal litter too, but my four were much less work thanks to it.  I love it.

The next item is a cheaper dehumidifier.  I knew we needed one, and when I saw that they generally start at well over a hundred dollars I was annoyed and didn’t know which to choose.  I opted to try out this cheaper unit since it was less investment but actually looked nicer than the more expensive ones, and I highly recommend it too.  I ended up buying another for the unfinished part of the basement too, and it works just great.  Hmm, I should mention that we have a Roomba in the media room too, and even though I don’t consider it a vacuum replacement it does help the tracked litter situation tremendously well.  (I would have a litter capturing tray with carpet if the problem-kitty didn’t think it was an extended litter.  Those work too otherwise.)

So, there is a post.  😀

The BEST Wallpaper in the World!

Today I reluctantly moved boxes, bolts of material, sewing machines, and tools out of the room designated for sewing and projects.  Why?  …Because wallpaper.

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It wasn’t the most hideous and a part of me could even find it cute, but I really didn’t want a busy pattern in the workroom to interfere with visualising things or clashing as a background in photos.  Once again I felt a little bit sad and guilty to make the change, but I had decided to go ahead and make it the space that I wanted instead of working with the paper.  Except, I was dreading the wallpaper removal.  Over the past couple of months I put off purchasing any supplies required or paint.  I asked my mother, my friends, and Home Depot employees if I could just please get away with painting over it against all my and their knowledge.  Nope.  It had to go if I wanted to paint, and I do always like to do a job correctly if I’m putting in the effort.  Finally I bought paint and removal tools.  Still, I dragged my feet.

Today turned out to be the day to begin for a few boring reasons.  (I will not have as much free time in the future and with any luck that will be soon.)  I’ve also been distracted with many sewing ideas in the past weeks, but every last implement is still boxed up.  Nothing can be made until everything is unpacked, organised, and set up.  😦  So, I put myself together and spent half of the morning moving the boxes and such into the guest room (making an unsettling mess in there.)  I’ll sure be motivated to finish this room quickly!

Then I opened up the scoring tool and scraper packages, found a spray bottle and a sponge, and read the stripper instructions.  Before saturating anything I tried prying up a corner of the paper, and OMG!!!!  The corner came up and I was able to peel the entire sheet off in one piece!  Not only that, but in under three minutes I’d peeled off half a wall!!!!  It only took half an hour or so to remove all of it.  I’ve rolled up the paper to re-use as drawer liners.

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I can hardly believe how lucky I was with this wallpaper, and I am thrilled that it did not take days.  I’ve already patched the many holes and few sections that pulled away.  I guess I’ll sand today as well before other chores since one is vacuuming and mopping.  Tomorrow I’m busy but perhaps I could begin painting Friday?  I believe I’ll need to start with the ceiling, much as I hate to bother, because it is a bit dirty and messed up.  😦  Also, I wish I hadn’t opened the scoring tool and could return it along with the stripper stuff, but I can’t really complain about this project too much.  I might manage to have the room done and organised next week, and that would be great!

Homemade Chalk Paint: ugly thrift store armoire becomes shabby chic coat closet

Today I have another old project to write about, because I’ve been slacking on new things.  Therefore I might not have ideal photos, but I wanted to share about some of these past projects anyway.  Let me start with before and after shots side by side:

armoire before armoire done

When I moved into my husband’s flat I wasn’t too happy about the place.  Although it had some charming features there were quite a few drawbacks in its layout and location, and I did my best to improve what I could.  For example, I’d grown used to a conveniently placed coat closet in my old place, and not having one anywhere near the door in his our home was frustrating.  If you have read earlier posts you may have noticed that I like need things to be “away” and tidy.

Clutter makes me anxious and distracts me, and having coats, shoes, umbrellas and the like on a coat rack or arrayed at the door appear as clutter to my mind.  I wanted doors and drawers!  So, I began considering armoire options at Ikea although I don’t particularly like the style or quality of Ikea furniture.  Then I stopped by one of my favourite thrift stores, Unique, and spotted a great solution.  The armoire may have been extremely ugly, but it was solid pine, had a useful arrangement with drawers, and it was cheap.  (I believe it was 30$?)  Immediately I texted a photo to my husband for approval and assured him that I’d paint it.  He despises green, but he trusted me and said to go ahead and buy it if I really wanted to.

armoire at thrift store

The next problem was that I’d driven a sedan to the place, and DH’s car was even smaller and a two-door.  No worries…  I paid, took my trusty screwdriver out of my purse, and disassembled the thing before packing it into my car.  I’d checked out the construction beforehand and saw that it was possible.  😉

At home I put it back together and painted right away before anyone could freak out much about the lovely, almost fluorescent, semi-transparent green stain.  I had paint leftover from my flat in a greenish grey which I could use.  It had too much of a green cast for my husband to let me use it on the walls, but I figured he could deal with it on the armoire.  It was called “silver tinsel” and is a perfect colour for pretty much anything in my estimation.  Since there were some flaws and damage to the wood I decided to embrace the imperfections.  I’d been wanting to try chalk paint, and this seemed like a good time to.

Reading online gave me a “recipe” of paint, water, and plaster of paris.  There are other formulas too, but I wasn’t sure about using things like grout.  Plaster seemed brilliant, and I mixed up a batch then brushed on a base coat.  Next I mixed a batch that included a bit of white too, and I used it to sort of dry-brush over corners and panels in as artful a way as I could manage.  Meanwhile I added a little more white into the mix as I went, because I wanted to have a lot of depth and variation in the colour.

armoire brushing on the paint armoire brushing lighter mix of paint armoire while painting

When I was done painting, and it was dry, I sanded certain areas lightly with a fine sandpaper.  On the panels and corners I didn’t sand much; just enough to smooth things and show inner layers of the paint.  Only the handles were sanded enough to see bare wood, because DH warned me that he thinks distressed finishes are weird and uh… he doesn’t like it.  So, I just did a tiny bit to push the boundary slightly.  😀  (It has worked somewhat, and he now approves of certain imperfect looks if not when it comes to painted items.)

Here it is again, done, and some closeups:

armoire with coats armoire done

armoire done detail 2 armoire done detail

I seriously enjoyed painting with the DIY chalk paint and in this style.  Very fun.  Chalk paint won me over, and after this I used it quite a few times… whenever I had the chance.  So far I haven’t shelled out for Annie Sloan or even the types now available in craft and hardware stores.  I am curious to try some of the real stuff, but I have nothing to use it on right now.

I did not use wax afterwards, and I haven’t on any of the pieces that I painted with chalk paint.  I was really afraid to apply wax and worried it would change the colour.  In any case the coat closet looks just fine even after some three years of constant use, but I probably will do a few test pieces with wax eventually.  Everyone else out there waxes, and there must be a good reason for it, I’m sure.