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Before & After: Painted Ikea Latt Table & Mysig Canopy

Ah well. Things are winding down for me in the motivation department. This happens sometimes. I’ll have this amazing streak of cleaning, decluttering, & project fulfillment and then it will dissipate back to my everyday amount of energy. Well, it was fun while it lasted!

Meanwhile, here is a quick pic of one of my projects from a couple weeks ago. We had this strange (for Oregon) winter sunny day and I thought ‘I’m going to paint!’ So, once the kids went down for naps I quickly gathered all the supplies and the kids’ Ikea LATT table and chair set.

I’ve been a fan of the dipped look for a while, so I decided to tape off a bit of the bottom legs to let the pine show through. The color is “Eden” by Rustoleum Painter’s Touch, satin finish. Anyway, I really like it and the kids do too! I wish I could find a before photo – by this point the wood had been stained with food and art supplies and who knows what else, so a quick sanding and layer of spray paint made it look good as new!

And what do you think of that MYSIG bed canopy? I totally fell in love with it the first time I saw it. I actually didn’t buy it that trip, because I wasn’t sure where I’d use it, but the next time I decided to grab one up. For $9.99, it’s a bargain. Since we have nothing for the wall there yet, I thought it would make an excellent topper for the table set. It’s hung with a single Command mini hook, so no nail hole was needed. The play kitchen is right to the side there, too, so the kids are always bringing their tea sets and play food over (as you can see). I’m thinking of having a vinyl wall decal made that says something like “Chloe & Leo’s Corner Cafe” to place underneath. Wouldn’t that be cute? Or would that be too much? 😉

P.S. I just happened to look up when we originally bought the LATT table, and it was when Chloe was 20 months old. I mentioned it here. How ironic that it should get a makeover when Leo was 20 months old!


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Who me? Organized?

I’ve been on an organizational kick lately. I had just begun with some preliminary things (like my desk) when I came across a Go Paperless post at Styleberry Blog. The timing was perfect as motivation to keep going.

So far the biggest thing I’ve tackled is our office closet. The best way I could describe it was train wreck. It was a horrible, frustrating, dark hole made up of piles of stuff. One culprit was paper, especially design samples we kept as “inspiration” from our student and early designer days. Another culprit was boxes, including packaging we had designed and were keeping as portfolio pieces… all that stuff we paired down, tossed, or put up in the attic space. Then there were random items to go to Goodwill – a beautiful red leather Franklin Covey binder I don’t use but had trouble parting with for years, holiday ceramic jars that I’ve kept meaning to re-gift with holiday goodies, my ten-year old Toshiba laptop… you get the picture.

Bye-bye stuff, hello space!

Here are two excellent pieces of advice I’ve read recently:

  1. Put things where they belong. If something isn’t used where it is, then it needs to be stored somewhere else – kitchen stuff in the kitchen, office stuff in the office, etc. This may be obvious, but it was handy in helping me make decisions.
  2. “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Ah. Right. I was reminded of this William Morris quote thanks to Pinterest.

One thing I’ve moved from the office is fabric. It is now in the bedroom where the sewing machine is (soon to be Leo’s room, but oh well). On a photo tour of Melissa’s studio, I noticed she keeps her fabric in an Ikea Antonius frame with wire baskets. A lightbulb went off in my head – I have one of these! I emptied the top two shelves (full of clothes I hardly wear, which I moved to my closet) and replaced them with my fabric piles. Now, instead of digging down into a box, I can see at a glance all of the fabric I have on hand. Brilliant! (And yes, I agree, that is an awful lot of fabric for a person who hardly sews. Must do something about that.)

Isn’t that one of the greatest things about blogs? The way they can inspire us? Maybe you’re ready to tackle a project of your own now. Best of luck!

 

 


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Before & After: Cubbie Storage Bench + Greatroom Update


There has been a little sewing going on around here. We purchased this Martha Stewart cubbie-storage bench from Home Depot to put right inside the french doors in the great room. It came with a plain cushion so I bought some home dec fabric during the labor day sale at Joanns. What I really wanted to do was a whole entry-style unit including wall hooks for hanging jackets and such, and use the cubbie for shoes, dog items and other outdoor paraphenalia. David didn’t agree, saying that it would just accumulate junk, so we comprimised. We got the cubbie, but instead of hooks we hung our new tree of life print above it.

Do you remember this photo of our under-construction great room? Well, besides the cubbie bench we’ve finally started furnishing it to a point it is somewhat livable. We’ve been really budget conscious, so it remains on the bare side as we decide over time how best to use the space. The sofa was a happy hand-me-down from David’s parents. Otherwise the most expensive item in the room was the Ikea Bjursta dining table and bench (which we keep in the bedroom unless we have company for dinner). This is a bit of an older photo, but you can get an idea of the layout (a rare moment not toy strewn). I’ve since changed that stretch-frame fabric for a different print in an actual frame (see below). That wall is so big, I’m not sure what we’re going to do there. Shelving? A collage of frames? One huge piece of art (that we likely can’t afford)?

The only other purchases I haven’t mentioned are the 8×10 rug we bought for $100 at HomeGoods and that coffee table ottoman that we bought on sale at Fred Meyer for $50 (which I love because it is soft – no bumped heads and such). Everything else we’ve had.

P.S. After re-reading this I realized I wanted to mention that quilt above the sofa. My mother-in-law made it for us from  an old Pottery Barn sample book of discontinuted (mostly) velvet swatches of upholstery fabric. For the backing and sides she used an old deep burgundy velvet table cloth we were getting rid of. Its very heavy and very cozy. 🙂

 


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Closet Makeover

My closet was a disaster. If you promise not to judge me, you can see a “before” photo here.

Pretty awful, right? And yes, that is all my stuff. When we moved in to our original house, David kindly used the closet in the other bedroom (which is now Chloe’s nursery) and let me have this one all to myself. It wasn’t always this messy, but it got worse during the pregnancy weight gain transition. I’m still 20lbs heavy, so it will be some time before I can give up my pregnancy/nursing clothes for good.

Thankfully, moving into our new bedroom forced me to take stock of all that was in there. I purged, gave away, and re-organized. In our new bedroom closets (separate his and hers in the same room!), David and I both chose to use a ClosetMaid T3 custom shelf and rod system from Home Depot (plus one drawer for me), and we were finally able to make the switch.

Here is what it looks like now:

Amazing, right? I had to show it in two photos, because now there are sliding doors and not two swing doors that open at the same time like the old closet. Can you believe the new closet is actually smaller? The new organization makes it much more usable. Now everything has a space (and you can’t see it, but at the very top is a shelf that hold all my purses and shoulder bags, as well as a box of “skinny” clothes that I may or may not wear again. Also, those pink boxes are Ikea Drona boxes ($5) which happen to fit perfectly if set in sideways, much cheaper than adding drawers ($36).

Now the question is what color to paint the doors?


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More home addition progress

Things are still happening here on the house. Most notably, our master bath is close to complete! I wanted to wait and do a big reveal, but I’m too excited not to share. Everything works – our new dual-flush toilet, rain shower, and sink faucets – but there are still a few finishing touches left, like putting up the wood trim/moulding around the door, window, and floor, priming and painting the pocket door and adjusting the drawers on the sink cabinet to open and close properly. We’re talking about painting the bathroom door a fun color, but that is still undecided. Right now we’re just using a shower curtain, but eventually I’d love to have a frameless glass shower door put in. Unfortunately it costs big $$$, and there is still so much left to do yet in the rest of the house. And see that curtain? I made it from some Ikea fabric I had on hand, and I’m quite proud of how it turned out (simple as it is).

Two other notable occurrences include the professional installation of our ultra-high efficiency heat pump and the installation of our new bamboo floor. Being extra sensitive to sounds, our new heating system is taking a little getting used to, especially that only-noticeable-to-me “newly-installed” smell. I understand it is very quiet compared to most systems. Previously we had baseboards, which were almost noiseless except for occasional ticking. We used Pyramid Heating and Cooling, so if you’re in the Portland area, we would highly recommend them.

The bamboo floor was purchased from Costco, and David installed it himself over a couple of weekends. It’s noisy and repetitive work with all the pounding and sawing.   I had to take Chloe and get out of the house several times to save our sanity. It looks awesome, though. Makes me think of a ballet studio, so smooth and satiny. The above photo also shows a new-to-us Crate & Barrel sofa. My in-laws got a new sectional and drove this one out with them (from Colorado!) when they came to visit in April. It’s SO much more comfortable and better looking than our old Pottery Barn Basic sofa..

Things are really shaping up around here. Today David painted and installed lighting in our his-and-her closets. He wants us to move into the master bedroom before the baby comes, but for some reason I want to wait. It’s such a big change. I think I want to keep some sense of familiarity, plus I want to stay close to Chloe during this transitional time. Maybe I’m just silly. 🙂


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Chloe's Nursery Mural and Decor

It seems I’ve never gotten around to sharing anything about Chloe’s nursery. Probably because it was rainy the day I took these photos and I think they look a tad gloomy. Anyway, like most parents on a budget we outfitted Chloe’s room mostly using white Ikea furniture. With the room barely measuring 10′ x 10′, and the closet taken up by David’s clothes (I take up the one in our bedroom), storage and organization were our biggest issues.

To increase storage we have two side-by-side 4-drawer Malm dressers , plus a Billy bookcase. One set holds clothes, shoes, and accessories, and the other set holds diapers, wipes, blankets, linens, toiletries, some future clothes and other items.

Chloe sleeps in a Gulliver crib. I like it because you can see the baby from all sides, plus it can convert to a toddler bed. For a while we were able to store boxes of future clothes underneath it, hidden by a beautiful bedskirt made by her Grandma Sandy. Then Chloe learned to stand, so we had to remove the bedskirt to lower the mattress, and now the bins sit out in the open next to the crib. Not so pretty, but not much choice. Grandma Sandy also painted the lovely flower and branch wall mural for us, following the design on this birth announcement. The ABC and 123 wall prints are by Sandra Isaksson. The only other piece of furniture is a navy fold down sofa that we already had. Originally we also had a rocking chair I bought through Craigslist, but David removed it to make room for the bins. Overall, it is a bit of a squeeze, and it continues to overflow despite our efforts to contain it all thanks to generous hand-me-downs that we won’t get to for a while. It is pretty functional, though, at least for now. 🙂


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Sewing Baby's Blanket


Here’s a peek at our new Ikea dresser and bookcase. Holding up the lamp
and shade is Louis the lion, one of our many wonderful shower gifts.

I finally sat down to sew baby’s blanket. The print side is leftover Alexander Henry Kleo fabric from the lovely crib skirt my mother-in-law made, and the back is pink dot minky. At the baby shower, we received two pink and white minky quilts, so I was able to return one and buy a yard of plain pink minky fabric instead.

I noticed the price of minky varies widely at our local shops. I first saw it for $20/yard where we purchased the Kleo fabric. Then I bought it elsewhere for $15, and used a coupon. Later I found it at Joann’s for $12.99/yard, but their pink wasn’t the right match.

The other thing about Minky is that it is a little hard to work with, as my mother-in-law warned me. Plus I’m a newbie sewer and had never made anything with stretchy material before. Knowing this, I tried to put in a little more effort – smoothing out the material, pinning it more often to keep creeping to a minimum, using a longer stitch length to keep the edges from buckling, decreasing the tension, and sewing it with the minky side down.

I started by cutting out matching rectangles from both fabrics. With the right sides facing, I stitched the perimeter with rounded corners, leaving a small open section at one end to turn it right side out. I trimmed and graded the raw edges, turned it right side out, and then top stitched it about a half inch from the edge. The finished size is about 30″ x 40″. I think it looks pretty good, considering.

Now, onto other baby projects…


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Stuff About Me


Speaking of random, I thought this photo would be suitable here. It is only a portion of a sea of shopping carts all stacked together one morning on a visit to Ikea. This was as many as I could fit in my camera frame, but there were lots more.

Well, I’ve been tagged by Pina to share 7 random things about myself. I think its been long enough since the last one, so I’ll give it a try. I find these pretty hard to do, partially because I don’t want to repeat myself (which I’m sure I’ll do anyway) and partially because I have a hard time coming up with anything very interesting. But anyway, here goes…

1. I am so bad at remembering to water the household plants. I have a small potted gardenia on the window sill by my computer and I won’t notice how badly it needs water until it becomes so wilted and sad that I’ll think I’ve killed it this time for sure. But somehow, it always perks back up almost good as new (except for the handful of inevitable brown and yellow leaves).

2. My favorite kinds of flowers are happy and showy, usually richly colored with one main bloom per stalk – like dahlias, gerbera daisies, ranunculas, and the like. The very opposite of my husband who likes dainty little flowers that come in tiny sprays or clusters.

3. I love chocolate milkshakes. Even better are chocolate malts. There was a time where I absolutely could not leave a restaurant without ordering a chocolate malt if it was on the menu, even if I wasn’t really hungry. My current favorite shake is from a nearby chocolatier called Moonstruck who makes an amazing Chocolate Old Fashioned, complete with a dark chocolate coin garnishing the top of the whipped cream. Delicious!

4.I am 5′ 3″. It used to really bother me when I was a kid, but now I never think about it. I come from a very short family. My mom is 5′ and my dad is 5’4″. I’m not sure about my sister, but I think she is somewhere around 4′ 10″.

5. I do not like to exercise, although I enjoy walking. Actually, its not that I don’t like to exercise, but I find going to the gym boring and I’m not good at motivating myself to do things that I like more, like riding my bike, especially when its so cold outside.

6. I still have problems telling left from right, too. I still make the “L” shapes with my thumb and index finger of each hand and look down to see which actually makes a true “L” for “Left.”

7. My first real pet (as in, given to me by my parents, not found in the backyard or caught in a stream somewhere) was a hamster. I named her Lady, and she was a pale golden beige with white on her chest. I could watch her for hours. My favorite was when she’d clean her face and fur with her dainty little paws.

Wow, I actually thought of 7. Whew! Forgive me, but I’m not going to tag anyone else, for now, but I’ll send out a random tag to anyone who is interested in sharing. I’ll certainly be interested in reading, so let me know!


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Making Totes

David and I have been making totes lately. That’s right, David is sewing now, too! We were at New Seasons and saw a batch of simple, unlined totes for sale made from Ikea fabric and David asked me to teach him how to make them.

For his first two totes, he decided to recycle an old Pottery Barn curtain panel from our fabric stash. I walked him through cutting for size and inseam, and a few other basics like threading the bobbin, back-stitching, squaring the bottom and making french seams to keep the inside neat-looking and strong. Actually, David kind of knew how to sew long before me, because I remember him making large curtains for one of our first apartments back in the mid 1990s. However, this was a machine he hadn’t used before. He was a fast learner, and doesn’t get hung up and fussy about details like I do.

After making the bags, he then screen-printed one with an image of a bird. Didn’t it turn out great? I’m so proud!

And not to be completely outdone by my talented husband, here is a tote that I finished as well. I kind of made it up as I went along, which was not a good thing, in this case, because I think I would have made a couple different choices had I thought it through from the beginning. The outside is Ikea fabric (from the frederika collection) and the inside is Essex white linen cotton blend from Sew Mama Sew.


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More Ikea Organization

We’ve been to Ikea twice in the last week. We went to buy shelving for our laundry room, a narrow 6×12′ section in the back corner of the house that holds our washer and dryer, the hot water heater, and anything else that we can possibly fit into it, including all of our extra dinnerware (which is considerable – see this post), electrical appliances (bread maker, pasta maker, 3 coffee makers, ice cream maker, panini press, kitchen aid mixer, blender, food processer… the list goes on), linens, vases, dog food and supplies, boxes of candles and holders, bulk items, etc. It doesn’t sound like a lot upon reading mere words, but trust me, we’ve got A LOT.

David has been wanting to re-organize this room for some time now. Before, the storage mostly consisted of salvaged cabinets from our kitchen remodel and some metal shelves (we’re still keeping one set of wall cabinets and the metal shelving). Decidedly unglamourous, but at least partially utilitarian. Except that there still wasn’t enough nooks and crannies to hide it all.

And so, with a happily accepted birthday donation from my wonderful in-laws, we were able to purchase this new IVAR shelving and two ANTONIUS wire baskets from Ikea. However, when we got there on sunday, we were stunned to find that they were all out of the size we needed. Thus our second trip a couple days later (after calling to confirm there was indeed a new shipment of IVAR parts). And now look, it is all organized! Things aren’t crammed together and hidden within the dark recesses of our old cabinets. Now everything has a place, easy to locate and easy to access. All that’s left to do is to paint the old wall cabinet (not shown) white and for David to hang a sliding door in front of our new shelves. What a difference!

Click here for a detailed explanation of what is on each shelf.

P.S. This room isn’t as blue as it looks in the photo. Only two walls are blue, and the other two are white.

Other posts I’ve written about IKEA are Ode to our home office and The perfect craft table.


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The perfect craft table

I thought about mentioning my new Norden gateleg table from IKEA in the previous post, but since it is not in actually stored in the office I thought I’d add it separately. David got fed up with not eating at the dinner table because of all my craft and sewing supplies spread out all over, so for Christmas he bought me this.

Although IKEA categorizes this as a dining table, I think it works far better as a utility/craft table. It’s not much of a looker, but as you can see from the image above, there are drop leaves on both sides, which each lift individually. There are also 3 drawers on each side, perfect for storing notions, balls of yarn and knitting needles, and other items that need a home for themselves.

Our 10′ x 10′ spare room is used as the “TV” room, and David uses that closet as his wardrobe (he’s generously allowed me full reign over our bedroom closet. All I can say is that decent closet space was not a priority in the late 1940’s). We’ve squeezed in a futon, a TV stand and two bookshelves into that room, which just leaves the two windows, door and closet accessible. So you can imagine my skepticism when David said we’d find a table to fit.

The great thing about the Norden table is that it folds down to be a mere 10.5″ (x 31.5″). No bigger than a small bookshelf (which we had to take out). When it is not in use it fits my sewing machine perfectly on top with plenty of room to spare. When I want to sew I pull out just one side, and when I want to spread out large sections of fabric or other projects I can extend both sides for a whopping 5 feet (and no, the gateleg does not seem to get in my way with the sewing pedal)


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Ode to our home office (or, yay IKEA!)


What my corner of the office looks like when it’s neat.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about our office space. Not that I think this small room is particularly great in any way. However, when it’s tidy and not too strewn with supplies or works-in-progress, it is decently comfortable and serviceable for two people sitting in desk chairs less than two feet apart.

The first thing I’ll say is IKEA. Over the past 5+ years, we’ve slowly rotated out ugly, semi-useless, and cheap office furniture and replaced it with good-looking, functional and affordable IKEA pieces. The only remainder from that bygone era is David’s ugly, stained, worn-out, circa 1998 Office Depot chair. I don’t know why he won’t replace it. Well, actually he did buy a new one once. He gave me that old one, and used the newer one for a while until he spilled coffee on it, which ended up suspiciously looking like a large urine stain. So disgusting. Eventually, I got fed up and purchased a white IKEA Jules Swivel Chair just so I could throw it out. I like the Jules chair fine, but David doesn’t because he says it’s too hard and has no armrests. Boo hoo.

IKEA items in our office (left to right, top to bottom): Helmer drawer unit, Jules swivel chair,
Handklaver pendant lamp, Expedit bookcase with optional Lekman boxes, Antifoni work lamp,
Salma storage boxes, Erik file cabinet, Galant drawer unit and Kila work lamp.

Basically, our IKEA office consists of these things: two modular Vika Amon desks that butt up against each other on one side of the room (straight for David, slightly curved corner-style desk for me), a wall-sized Expedit bookcase (with 6 Lekman storage box/drawers), a Galant drawer unit, a Helmer drawer unit, and three sets of Effecktiv wall cabinets with doors. Most everything is either birch or white. If we had more space, I would be all over getting an Alex drawer unit perfect for stacks of specialty papers, notions, and general easy-to-see-and-access storage. Instead we use a much smaller flat file organizer from Staples that fits in the closet along with the many Salma clear plastic boxes with lids that hold everything from inspiration and paper sample books to old portfolio pieces and ribbons. Now that I think of it, all of our lighting is IKEA, too: my Antifoni work lamp, David’s Kila work lamp, a Tarby ceiling lamp, and a Handklaver pendant lamp in the corner that we bought as a wedding decoration and never used. Even our old dark blue Vinde rug is IKEA, and matches the two dark blue and two light blue walls of the room. Where else can you find a decent rug for so cheap?

All of these pieces work really well for us. The only problem, especially for me, is taking the time to neaten up my work space and put away my tools every once in a while.

Some Things I’ve Learned

  • Higher wall space is too often overlooked as usable storage space.
  • Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and make a purchase that will outweigh its initial cost by providing long term organization and clutter control.
  • Prioritizing and purchasing individual pieces over time is much more affordable than overhauling a whole room at once. We bought some of these pieces back in college. The good thing about Ikea is that it is easier to match other items later because their styles and colors are pretty standard.
  • Consider buying a few of the additional organizational items, like the Lekman boxes that fit perfectly with the Expedit bookcase, or plastic drawer dividers for filing cabinets to help keep things organized.
  • Don’t overlook lighting. Overhead lighting is important, but individual space lighting comes in handy, especially if it can be repositioned for each job.
  • IKEA furniture alone can look sort of bland, but it is easy to jazz up the space with a colorful rug, complementary wall paint, nice curtains, wall art and/or some easy-care plants.

I should note here, that most of these furniture ideas came from David. He does a really good job of organizing space and choosing the right tools to do it properly. I think part of that skill he got from his mom and part of it from a stint at Pottery Barn many years back. Sometimes it takes him a while to talk me into getting new furniture, like the Effective wall cabinets. I didn’t want to spend the money (despite their comparative affordability) and I didn’t think I’d like the idea of cabinets looming over our desks. However, we were in serious need of more accessible storage. He eventually wore me down and now I’m glad for that extra hidden space.

Now he’s trying to talk me into re-doing the back wall of our laundry room.

We’ll see, honey.

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