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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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Food Storage Organization + Free Kitchen Label Printable

Somedays I’ll imagine what it might be like years from now, when the baby and preschooler cease to create havoc and destruction wherever they go. I imagine actually being able to “style” the rooms, instead of keeping all surfaces kid-friendly (or kid-cluttered). For now, I get my kicks occasionally sneaking peaks at I heart organizing (I did this with our DVDs right away!) and Centsational Girl. They’re great for inspiration and little boosts of motivation.

A while ago I noticed how ridiculous the base corner unit in our kitchen was getting. Its an Ikea Rationell lazy susan that holds mostly canned and some bulk dry goods, plus odds and ends like coffee and reusable containers. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I cleaned it out. There was spilled salt (did we really need the 10lb Costco bag?) crusting in leaked cooking oil, and speaking of oil – every single bottle down there was expired. Hmm. Guess it was time for a cleaning!

I was surprised how quick it went. Like any good anti-clutter/cleaning project I pulled everything out and wiped everything down. I sealed up the salt, tossed all the oil and expired items, then divided items by category. I found 10 main categories – Veggies, Fruits, Beans, Tomatoes (diced, paste, etc.), Soups, Meats, Sauces, Condiments, Dry Goods and Plasticware. Everything was placed back on the racks in its designated spot. To make future sorting even easier, I spent some of the kids’ naptime making kitchen labels. What is it about a label that makes everything seem so neat and official?

Do you have a Rationell unit or need some handy labels? Feel free to download this pdf. The first page is pre-labeled and the second page is blank so you can personalize as you need. Enjoy!

Kitchen Label Download (53kb)

 

 


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Ribba Wall Display: Frame Layout Process

As I mentioned, the last time we went to Ikea we bought a bunch of Ribba frames. David finally agreed to let me put up a family photo wall, in the hallway, and I am in the process of laying out the frames to best fit the space. If I had my way completely, I’d be putting up a display wall in the greatroom, where these photos might actually be seen. However, the hallway is as far as the husband is willing to concede. (Wives out there, if your husband is the kind that gives you free rein with the decor, count your blessings).

Now, about our hallway – it is short, dark and narrow. Did I mention dark? Yes, there are hall lights, but we don’t use them during the day, and at night only if we’re looking for something. I’d love to install a sky tube (mentioned here), but I have my work cut out for me if I want to wear the husband down enough for that.

Arranging the frames was trickier than I thought it would be. I knew I wanted a somewhat symmetrical grid, and the same amount of space between each frame, but the sizes that the Ribbas come in make that difficult. I now know Ribba frames are best for those who prefer a random or asymmetrical approach (this one is a nice example).

With all the frames on the floor, and a measuring tape handy, I began to shuffle them around, sort of like puzzle pieces. This was the first layout I was happy with, but it was too long for the wall space.

This is the best possibility so far, and what I’m probably going to use. It is much more linear than I initially wanted, but again, if I want a certain amount of symmetry (and equal space between frames) this is probably my best bet. It is also fewer frames, and therefore photos, than I had wanted to use.

And now the hardest part – picking the photos. So many to choose from. Wish me luck!

 


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The Extra Large Really BIG Bag

I sewed a new bag this weekend! This is a really BIG bag (almost 3 feet across). I wanted one because both Chloe, and Leo & I have a swim class that meets twice a week, during the same time. The bag had to be large enough to carry three towels, three sets of dry clothes, snacks, diapering items, etc., yet be light weight and easy for this mama to carry. This one fits the bill with room to spare!

The pattern came from a blue plastic Ikea shopping bag. We have two, and they are really handy, especially at the beach. Sand slides right off the plastic. The handles are really clever, too. Each side has a loop of material that is attached in way that creates a shoulder strap as well as tote handles, so you can carry it both ways (you can see them best in the top photo). Essentially, those blue Ikea bags are large tarps with handles, but they stay crazy wrinkled and are ridiculously noisy because the plastic is so crackly. The design is perfect, though, almost exactly what I wanted.

Sewing notes: The Ikea heart fabric I already had in my stash. I used Pellon fusible interfacing to add body, but it didn’t adhere to the outer fabric properly, and I’m not sure I would use it again. As I said before, this is a basic, but cleverly designed bag, made of only two large and one small rectangle (for the bottom). I thought about forgoing the bottom and just sewing the side rectangles together, but it is the bottom that makes the bag roomy and gives it a wide opening. The handles are grosgrain ribbon and the top edge and the inside sides seams are finished with bias tape. Pretty snazzy!

Here are links to the other bags I’ve made: Freestyle tote, Hobo Slouch, Green Felt tote,  Zippered Felt bag and Tokyo Tie bag.

 


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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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Sewing Machine Cover + Smallest Sewing Table Ever

My sewing machine has a new dress! The ugly plastic one it came with finally got the heave-ho. Looks nice, doesn’t it? I got all ambitious and added a back pocket and a hole on top for the carrying handle, except I couldn’t figure out how to properly fold inside corners with bias-tape. It ended up oval, except I had already cut a rectangle in the fabric and the bias-tape didn’t “catch” the corners. I fixed that with a little fabric glue. Just don’t look too close.

Before Chloe, the “spare” room (that is now her nursery) used to be where we kept the TV, the sewing table, and the futon. With Chloe’s arrival, we had no choice but to move the TV into the living room and the sewing table into our bedroom, wedged between the dresser and the hamper, because there was literally nowhere else in our little house to put it. Luckily, it folds down really small, as you can see. I also took a photo of the table fully opened.

I was this close to using Alexander Henry’s Mocca for the sewing machine cover, but after walking it and the Joel Dewberry Ginseng into the bedroom, I realized right away the Mocca wouldn’t jive with the serenity of the bedroom. Much the same way that I wouldn’t have been able to stand the TV in the bedroom. The walls are white, the curtains white, and my favorite duvet cover is white with only a few oversize, very abstract, pale blue, taupe and brick-colored butterflies. It was meant to be.

Good tutorials and inspiration for making sewing machine covers can be found at Chez Larsson, Spool, and Creative Reveries.


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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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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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Sewing Project #2 – Pillow Covers

striped pillow

I just finished my second sewing project – two striped pillow covers following the easy instructions out of Sew Subversive: Down & Dirty DIY for the Fabulous Fashionista. Basically you make a big sewn envelope into which you stuff a pillow form. A perfect beginner’s project because you don’t have to worry about zippers. I can’t believe how good they look, especially on our horrible Pottery Barn sofa which my husband and I hate. The pillows add a much needed modern touch.

About our dreadful sofa – we have been wanting to replace it for SO long. Not only is it mushy and uncomfortable, it also has several chewed out sections from when we first got Barkley. He was dealing with some separation anxiety when we would leave him home alone. For a long time we considered this one from Crate and Barrel, but decided it was too expensive and we weren’t sold on the color. Now we’re thinking about this one from Ikea, but we’re not sure about its colors either (sigh) and we’re being very careful with money right now. But if we can decide before December they’re having a sofa event where you get an Ikea Gift Card worth 20% of an upholstery purchase. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

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