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.

 

Xmas Decor 2016 & List of Upcoming Projects

Yesterday I brought the tree down from the attic, put it together, and decorated.  We were away around Thanksgiving, and I haven’t been terribly productive recently, but at least the house feels nice and Christmas-y.

Actually, I’ve been working on things here and there, like massive organisation bursts, but in the last week and this one not much else could be done.  L worked from home, took this entire week off, we were away, and I’m about to flip out for lack of alone time, so… I’m looking forward to more productive times.  Also, I’m now in the midst of the IVF cycle (number II,) and it is rather inconvenient.  For example, we left for Manhattan well before 7 on Monday and weren’t home until noon.  Thankfully on week days I can mostly go to a nearer location for monitoring, but city trips make for an exhausting day without much hope for large projects.  However, I do have a long list in mind to complete before family visits for Christmas.

Definitely:

-Purchase quartz tile and supplies to re-tile the entry area and hearth.  (Likely to be done this Friday when I go for local-ish monitoring.)

-Tile the hearth and entry.  This would have been ideally done before putting the tree up, but alas.  I am antsy to do this in particular, because it is a small enough project that I’ll get a lot of satisfaction quickly, and it will make a huge change to the look of our place.  Of course I’d like that done before we have the rare occasion of house guests.  (It already irks me that my tree photos now showcase the old tile!)

-Finish sanding the dining chairs before staining and waxing them to match the Restoration Hardware style dining table that I completed at least two years ago.  (!!!)  While I’m at it I ought to touch up the coffee table.

-Brush trim paint (coconut ice) on the remaining 40% of the kitchen beadboard that is sadly still only primed after about two years.  (Also !!!)

-(Semi-temporary) repairs to the front steps.  I began this and ran out of Quickcrete.  L would like this to be completed, so if I get warm enough weather and a chance to then I’d better get to it.

-Brush edges of masonry that I painted earlier in the fall.

-Finish the sofa reupholstering.  Specifically to staple the back properly, stitch the upper back as needed, and staple black cambric stuff to finish underneath.  (Why haven’t I done this yet?   This is why I should never let myself stop at “good enough for now.”)  To truly complete it I’ll have to sew four-six throw pillow covers of the same linen as the sofa.  I have them all cut and ready to go, but I suspect this will be a long term sort of thing, because the jewel toned silk dupioni covers that I make long ago are “good enough for now.”

-Paint ceilings of guest room, hall, and main bath; guest and main bath walls; guest paneling, doors, and re-coat other doors; and re-paint main bath headboard with gloss.

-Pattern and make a winter coat.  I’ve planned this for two years and have all the fabric and notions required.  I actually started work on this last week but felt a bit overwhelmed and stopped, because nothing but wasted work ever comes from pushing through when I’m not in the right creative mode.

-Change out all remaining switch plates and outlet covers after painting.

Hopefully, but maybe:

-Change all door hinges to brushed nickel, adjust, and touch up paint.

-Fix the drop ceiling droop, add cross bars for 2×2′ tiles, and install fancier new tiles to replace the institutional styled 2×4′ kind.  (I may have to cut this from the allowed budget thanks to a fancy Butchers&Bicycles bakfiets we bought.  This change would make such a huge difference in the appearance of the media room part of the basement, but it is one of the most sensible to cut from this year’s list and save for later.  I anticipate it being a very messy, fussy, and time consuming hassle of a project.)

-Replace the sewing room and probably dressing room/master suite doors with some that have a frosted glass panel to let in light.  (I’m dying to do this too, but it is the other sensible thing to cut from the budget as it costs a lot for likely a less dramatic change.  It makes less of an impact than the drop ceiling, I guess, but it is a far easier task without all the hassle and mess of the ceiling project.  We’ll see.)

-The exterior staining project.  Soon I’ll write an update post about this, but due to ladder circumstances I haven’t finished the two sides of the house.  I began the west side and wanted it done this fall, but the ladder thing complicated the matter.  Not only do I need good enough weather and L’s availability and willingness to help, but the hillside is a severe obstacle.  While I purchased legs for the ladder I’m still nervous.  The other side would have been easy, but first we needed to have a nastily rotten old pile of firewood removed, and that happened way too late.  It makes sense to leave that until spring now.  I sure wish the warm and dry weather lasted longer here!  A part of me still holds out hope of finishing the west side before winter.

-Paint dining/living window trim with coconut ice.

Future projects that I won’t even think of trying before Christmas but do intend to do within 6-9 months:

-Rip up the carpeting of the master bedroom.  Prime, paint, and stencil the sub flooring.

-Sort and organise the remaining boxes and stuff in the storage room and basement.

-Tear out the laminate and carpet in the media room and storage room.  Level whatever I find beneath, and install vinyl planks.  This is huge.  I’ll need to remove or move around L’s workstation and big entertainment thing, furniture, and a tonne of stored crap (see previous item.)  Then I have to deal with the demolition and rubbish, but I’m most concerned about what I’ll find beneath the laminate.  I can only fear what has caused bouncing dips and unlevelled spans as drastic as we have down there…  I hope that some levelling concrete is all that is required, but all sorts of nightmares plague my plans with this especially after we had a massive swarm of carpenter ants to eliminate this spring.  It’ll be a gorgeous change though.

-Paint the dressing room and curved stairwell.  Maybe re-do the master bedroom too now that I have selected the proper pale grey?

-Continue to replace torn and ugly aluminium screens of storm windows and re-glase windows.

-Refinish a crib, maybe???

-Lots of sewing.

-Reupholster a recliner and a cute little tufted round chair.

-Restore or basically do something to make an antique travel trunk useable as furniture.

 

Anyway… On to the holiday decorations:img_7982Above is the sofa featured in my reupholstering instructional posts (that I have yet to finish.)  Actually, I did that round chair/loveseat twice too!  You might also see that the crown moulding has been finished but the window is only white primer?

 

The tree.img_7992

 

This year’s additions.  I found a few more of the Egyptian glass, liked the random matte white with black ornaments, and finally added a pickle!  img_7930

 

A closeup of the centre-piece on the coffee table:img_8009

 

I have these allllllll organised when stored!  Each year some ornaments are put into rotation or maybe not.  Believe it or not, I’d like even more options to select from!  Since I do add a dozen or so each year that is becoming more of a reality.img_7940

 

Truly Unusual & Very Goth Garden Plants: an Extremely Extensive List

black and white violets and black mondo and white-green grass

I am particularly excited about this post.  I’ve spent a LOT of time on it and on researching the plants found in it.  This is the largest and most unique list of goth and unusual plants if my Googling has not failed me.  I hope you enjoy the results!

This March has been extremely warm, and I have been gardening whenever I have the chance and energy.  Mostly that has meant gathering up leaves and stones to clear the yard and create a new flower bed.  However, I have even sown seeds and transplanted a bunch of plants trusting that the temperatures will remain tolerably mild.  All of this, and some pleasant craziness at work, has left me little time for actually writing.  Meanwhile, I have been finding more and more dark and beautifully strange plants to share here.  They are not found on the usual lists of ideas I’ve seen, and  I’m really excited to share what I’ve found by digging further and further into the depths of Google.  😀

First of all, I have to give appreciation to the websites from which I took the photos used in this post.  I’m including links to everything in hopes of not upsetting anyone.  Of course I’ll post pictures of my own specimens during or after the growing season, but also I cannot buy and try to grow everything that I’m sharing today!  (Dream on, dream on…)

This photo above is of the new flowerbed that I want to fill with goth inspired blooms and such.  So far I’ve put in black mondo grass, black and white violas, some sort of white and green grass, black pearl peppers, ballerina red thrift, black charm lilies, black elephant ears, white caladium, and I have sown black bachelor’s button, delft blue nigella, and mother of pearl poppy.  Later I hope to add penny black.  (See my earlier post about other plans and plants that I’ve used, like black petunias, black hollyhock, queen of night tulips, black diamond crepe myrtle…)  I’ve also planted a black elderberry bush and am looking forward to the colours of it and the berries too.

black viola

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black pearl pepper

black and white row

ballerina red thrift

black and white violets and black mondo and white-green grass

new garden bed

 

 

And here are quite a few more beautiful dark plants which you may not have seen before:

Bat flower, which is gorgeous and perfectly goth but tropical…

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(A thanks to Google images and The Wild Papaya for the photo.)

Also lovely in white:

white bat plant

 

Snake plant which would contrast nicely in a goth garden if you are in a dry and hot area.snake plant

 

Black shield plant, another perfect houseplant for the theme.black shield

 

Black rose tree  another one for warm dry climates or inside.   black rose tree travellingmcfrothys(The Google provided photo is lovely, and I found it at the Travelling McFrothys.)

 

Crossing over Jack in the pulpit:Arisaema-Crossing-Over.i-4094.s-63786.r-01

 

The very strange and splendid Japanese cobra lily:

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Japanese Jack in the pulpitArisaema-sikokianum.i-1850.s-64351.r-1

Dominatrix Jack in the pulpit

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Belleville, which I think is particularly gorgeous in colour.

bellevallia pycnantha

 

Wild ginger:

asarum-maximum-shell-shocked-in-flower.i-9566.s-62937.r-01

 

Cleopatra canna:

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Moonlight caladium:

moonlight caladium

 

Mojito colocasia:

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and tropical storm colocasia:

Colocasia-esculenta-Tropical-Storm.i-11746.s-64372.r-1

 

Pottawotomie clematis pitcheri:

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Mountain king lady slipper orchid:

Cypripedium-Froschs-Mountain-King.s-63342.i-3590.y-2014

 

Black sprite:

black sprite

 

Voodoo lily:

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Night heron fairy bells:

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Alba bleeding heart:

dicentra alba:

 

Kentucky lady slipper:

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Sandy claws fairy wings:

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and super mottle fairy wings:

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Fritillaria meleagris mix:

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and fritillaria uva vulpus:

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Zwanenburg peruvian daffodil:

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Harrisiana Peruvian dafodil:

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Ruby ribbons grass:

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Narcissus cantabricus:

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Netty’s pride lily:

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Pauline iris reticulata:

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Frank Elder iris:

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Underwood trillium:

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Shelbyville trillium:

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And I must include Adam’s Family trillium, of course:

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Royal maroon sweet pea:

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Sumter white topped pitcher plant:

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Lastly, here is a tropical looking bit of foliage that can tolerate New York winters:

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And here are a few more things currently growing:

siberian iris and allium

herb bed

herb and flower bed

HD hellebore

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chocolate vine year two spring buds

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pastel pansies

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And just a few from previous posts in case you didn’t check out the link:

 

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:

blinds computer corner stair area

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:

IMG_1160 IMG_1163 IMG_1177 after paint

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.  😀

A Past Project: Stencilled Wooden Floor in our Kitchen (and it is a Preview of a Future Project!)

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When I moved in to my husband’s flat I had a lot of improvements in mind.  While the apartment had a lot of space and character there were some things which could use a bit of a facelift and better functionality for my personal style.  The bathroom was pretty horrid, but the kitchen could use some work too, I thought.  😉

Here is the only “before” shot I seem to have:

best before photo that I have, sorry

The chipped floor really got on my nerves even if the cabinets, counters, and the rest were alright if not amazing.  That floor, yuck!!  (You are reading the blog of a woman who installed ceramic tile in the last two flats she rented, because… I have something against vinyl.)  Given that he owned the place it wasn’t crazy, but we also wanted to keep the project as cheap as possible.

I suppose that hideous stick on tiles would have been the cheapest option, but they wouldn’t please me any better and do not hold up well.  Tile of any sort was out of budget, so I decided to stencil after seeing it online.  I was inspired by Lovelyetc, and I shamlessly stole her paint colours and all.  Just look at how many beautiful things pop up at the very start of a Google image search for stencilled floors:

image search

Inspiring, isn’t that!

I began tearing up the tiles and the plywood beneath it which was in poor condition:

tearing up plywood

Then I bought a cheap orbital sander and began the messiest, worst, most awful part of the job:

beginning to sand floor the grain

I recall that I used “chimney smoke” as the base colour, but I forget the lighter grey.  It is the one Lovelyect suggested though.  I also followed her advice on Varathane, but it appears that I did not prime first.  Umm.  That’s… embarrassing.  Hmmm.

hmmm no primer base layer

I don’t know why I did not prime, but I certainly will next time.  There IS a next time, because I already bought supplies for the next stencilling project.  I even re-purchased the stencil, because I lent the other to my mother.  (She used pale lilac and purple to create an entirely different look in her attic.)  Of course I considered choosing a different design, but this one really is my favourite, and my husband agreed.

On to the non-primed base colour:

base layer hmmm no primer

The next day I taped the border and began.  Positioning the layout is a big deal, but I eyeballed it.  What is really important is to go over the edge of the tape with the base colour to prevent ugly bleeding.

planning layout

first stencil closeup as stenciling  

getting there closer!

That is as far of an After as I can show right now, but I do plan on another post about the kitchen transformation.  …But here are photos of my sister-in-law’s hallways from when I stencilled them for her:

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Dark Gardening: Even More Goth Plant Suggestions

Since last night I have poked around the internet, and I found far too many interesting dark plants not to post again.  The first beauty, which I absolutely must order, is “black cat” petunia.

black cat petunia

I’d love to have some of these strange “cummins” and “rococo” tulips too.  They are fantastic!  The look of hoarfrost on the cummins is spectacular!

rococo rulip cummins tulip

Lunaria might be fun if I could find the white flowering variety rather than bright purples, because the silvery pods are really neat, but “silver lace” dusty miller may be a better addition anyway.

silver lace dusty miller lunaria

Lastly, “moulin rouge” astrantia and “black star” calla lilies are a nice deep red and also have interesting shapes.

black star calla lily moulin rouge astrantia

I’ll recap with yesterday’s images so that everything can be seen in one place:

eyeliner lilyhello darknessred giant castorperuvian daffodil  white christmas caladiumblack charm lilyblack is blackqueen of night and maureen tulips    black swan poppypaper moon scabiosadelft blue love in a mistmother of pearl poppyoriginal sweet peadangerous mood irisdonard sea hollychocolate vineonyx odyssey hellebores*Links to the photo sources are in the previous post.

Thrifty DIY Windowpane Picture Frame (for a Group Display of Nine 8×10″ Photos)

I grew up on a dairy farm.  I miss it terribly.  2014 marked my tenth year of living in NYC, which I didn’t particularly like, and my parents sold the farm in 2013.  Moving away from the city and into a house has made me very happy, and I feel a lot more like myself now.  For a long time I have wanted to hang up photos from the farm, but wasn’t able to settle on a method of displaying them.  Eventually I waited not wanting to add more holes to our apartment walls knowing we would move.  Now that we have, and are hosting a little party this weekend, I rushed to create a display.

Ideally I would love to buy a few really large prints on aluminium, because I love how a small one from our wedding turned out.  It is an awesome look and requires no frame.  Those prints are extremely durable, but they come at a steep cost.  For now I wanted a three by three display of 8×10″ photos.  It sounds simple, but as it turns out it is not easy to find a frame for this arrangement.  I didn’t even find one, actually.  The best I could do would be to purchase three oblong triple display frames, like this, but the cost was not tolerable.  (Totalling at 150$ on discount or 390$ when not on sale?!!)  Next best was to buy a bunch of really cheap frames.  They would work out alright, but when I realised how many holes would be made in my freshly painted walls… ugh.  Not only that but it would be tough to align them perfectly when hanging due to their design.  Finally I settled on a solution.  I would make my own frame.

One way to do this would be to glue the cheap frames to a board in order to hang more easily.  This was my plan, but at the store I saw a really nice 24×36″ frame on sale for 14$ and decided that adding moulding trim panes would be much better.  I gathered supplies and almost checked out before realising my maths didn’t work.  D’oh!  I left the queue and found the only 24×30″ frame available.  It was half off but still close to 30$.  Wow, frames are costly!

Here are the materials used and the frame before modifying it:

materials

First I used the back of the display sheet to mark guidelines and put it back in the frame.  Then I measured out the trim and cut it.  A single edge razor blade worked perfectly.  (I love those useful little things and have dozens floating around the house!)

marking where to cut test run

Then I painted the trim, even the back, before gluing the pieces to the glass.  I used glue dots that said they work on glass.  I stuck one each where the guidelines cross, and I stretched some to secure the trim along the end of the lines.  It worked out just fine.  I suggest stretching dots at the intersections too, because it was a bit fiddly to cut away the excess with the razor blade.  After gluing I gave it all another coat of paint then scraped the mess off of the glass.

2nd coat of paint after scraping away paint

All that was left was to position the photos, re-assemble, and hang it!  I began with the middle print and worked out from there using reposition-able, acid free, photo/scrapbooking adhesive squares.  It is much better than struggling with scotch tape.  😉

positioning photos

Done and done!

done!done and hanging

I am very pleased with how the DIY frame turned out and with the collage.  I definitely wouldn’t know it was DIY if I saw it at someone else’s home.  It was hard to choose which photos to use, but I think it looks great and is perfect for sharing my memories.  If you are curious, the barn was built in 1888, but we built the silos, additions, (and other buildings.)  That is my father in the bottom row with a Farmall H tractor (made in the ’40s,) a sickle bar mower, and a cultipacker.  Most of our machinery was 50+ years old, and I always thought it was fascinating how it all worked.  The silhouette in the upper right is a rake to spread out cut hay to dry before baling.