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Otomi Fabric

Otomi Fabric

I had a very brief trip to Mexico City for work. I really wanted some Otomi fabric, hand-embroidered fabrics. I was inspired by photos like this:

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Here is what I bought:

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This small piece of Otomi in the photo above will get framed. I just love to burro.

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The piece above is about 7 feet long, maybe 18 inches wide? I got it for about $30, which was a great price, I think. I had originally intended to use it as a table runner, but my mom told me that Otomi doesn’t wash well. Apparently the colors from the thread run and get all over the white fabric. So instead, I will also use it as a wall hanging. The colors are just incredible.

IMG_1871Finally, I bought this serape blanket for about $20 (probably overpaid, since I bought it at the airport with my remaining pesos). It’s really soft and the colors are also just great. I think I will use it in the yellow-floored attic guest room.

I think Mexico is my spirit country – Mexican food is my favorite food in the world and the folk arts and colors just speak to my soul. I really hope I get to spend more time in Mexico City in the future. I was really impressed.

Besos y Abrazos,

Rachel

 

Music Studio and Guest Bedroom

Music Studio and Guest Bedroom

One might wonder where has all the red shag carpet in the world gone? Let me tell you, it has gone into our attic. Yep – here it is in all its red shaggy glory!

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Oh, and in case you were wondering where all the wood paneling went, that also resides in our attic. Lots and lots of red carpet and wood panelling made this attic feel creepy, smell funny, and basically made this space feel uninhabitable.  It was not pleasant to be up there.

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You can see I have taped off the radiators here in preparation for what’s to come.

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The attic space is divided into two smaller spaces – in the photo above, on the right side of the picture, you can see part of the thin wall that divides the two spaces. Eventually the whole attic will be turned into the master suite and that wall will be taken out, perhaps with a small den.

Anyway, I wanted to surprise Victor for Valentine’s Day by making him a music studio for all his many instruments, and also creating a calming place for him to meditate (the Hindu word for it is “puja”).
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So I primed and painted all the wood panelling white (Behr Ultra White – same as the rest of the house). It needed primer first because the wood was dark and in some places bled through.

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Then, I ripped out all the shag carpet, and painted the tiles beneath the carpet a lovely yellow (Citrus – Behr). I was channeling Scandinavian brightness.

To prep the floor I used deglosser. I didn’t want to sand it because I thought the tiles might be asbestos. Then I painted on a coat of Bin Zinzer shellac primer, which is a great primer – it’s a pain to clean, but it’s good because you can paint with latex paint over the shellac (something you cannot do with oil-based paint).

For the yellow, I used Behr Porch and Floor paint – the guy at Home Depot didn’t really want to tint the floor paint this yellow shade for me, because he wasn’t sure it would come out the right color (the floor paints come in grays, browns, blues, mostly). But he did it anyway. And it worked out just fine.

You really need to give the paint a full 72 hours (96 hours if you can wait that long) before you start putting furniture on it. But the finish seems to be very strong and is holding up well to everything that we are putting on the floor.

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Victor has a full drum kit, but I was incapable of putting the whole thing together (I didn’t want to break anything). So I just put together enough of the drum kit so that Victor would get the idea – he got it.IMG_1813

I already had all the art, Victor had bought the couch when we lived in DC and my parents gave me the rug, so with the exception of paint and caulk, this makeover costs almost nothing. I think in total I spent less than $300 completely transforming this space. I’m looking forward to the future when I will vault the ceilings up the rafters, but for now, I’m very happy with how it turned out.IMG_1814 IMG_1815

This puja is on the “bedroom” side of the space (pictured below). The Indian doors are something my parents and I picked out years ago when we took a family trip to India to visit my brother. They are exquisite and really heavy. I’m pleasantly surprised by how nice they look with the yellow floor. The doors serve as a nice back drop for the puja. And the poof  I got from Homegoods for $50, I think. It is the perfect height for Victor’s meditation needs, plus I just think it’s super cute.

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Obviously I still need to buy new bed linens, get some night stands and hang art, but overall, I’m so happy with how this space turned out. The best part is that the house now feels so much larger because this previously unusable space is now bright, cheery and fun to be in.

Love,

Rachel

House Progress – Our Bedroom and Restoring Old Wood Floors

House Progress – Our Bedroom and Restoring Old Wood Floors

Despite my lack of blog posting, I have been a busy bee working on the house.

I wanted to focus on creating cozy bedroom spaces that were (almost) completely finished so that we could have nice retreat from the chaos of the rest of the house.

When I first moved in, everything (EVERYTHING) was painted a yellowish flesh-tone. The floors were in decent shape, but very dry and in need of some love. The doors were a weird grayish/greenish wood finish.
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First things first, I wanted to deal with plastering the ceiling in the bedroom. The ceiling was covered with ugly old ceiling tiles. I applied mesh tape to the seams and then plastered with the pre-mixed wall mud from Home Depot. I was unable to get the ceiling perfectly flat, so I just went for a subtle texture. The subtle texture also helped to disguise the seams between the ceiling tiles.

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I had to apply two coats of mud, waiting a few days between coats for it dry (Seattle is a little chilly and damp). Between each coat, I knocked down the high plaster spots.

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I also removed all the old curtain hardware, patched holes and replastered some cracks in the walls.

Once the ceiling was plastered and dry, I painted everything flat white. The ceilings, the walls were both painted flat white. The trim and doors were painted the same Behr Ultra White, but this time in semi-gloss.

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Then, to perk the floors back up I applied a coat of Restore-a-Finish in dark oak, which is a little darker than the current color on the floors, but it helped disguises scratches better than the golden oak color. I applied the Restore-a-Finish with steel wool, and rubbed with the grain to help clean the floor.  I wiped off excess Restore-a-Finish with a rag.  Next, I applied a generous layer of Howard’s Feed n’ Wax.  It’s a slightly citrus smelling wax, and I really like this stuff. You apply it generously with a rag, and then come back twenty minutes later to wipe off the excess.  I actually ended up buffing and wiping the floors down twice after apply the Feed n’ Wax, because the rags kept coming off with residual Restore-a-Finish. After the second buffing/wiping, the floors looked pretty darned good. This whole process took quite a long time, and I really wish I had invested in knee pads before undertaking this project. You live, you learn.

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Oh, also, my dad installed both quarter-round and picture molding (not pictured, likely because I am lazy).  The quarter round was added where the baseboards meet the floors because there had been carpet, and the area right next to the baseboards was in rough shape. The quarter-round hides the imperfections and just makes everything look so much better and more finished. That was also painted semi-gloss white. Everything was caulked for a seamless look before painting. I also painted the door white, also not pictured.

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The picture molding was added to mimic real picture molding in the living and dining rooms. This house is plaster and lathe, which means that if you start putting nails in the walls willy-nilly to hang art (FYI, I like to hang art willy-nilly. It’s the only way I know how.), you will screw up your walls pretty quickly. So I wanted to use caution. The bedroom picture molding is not true picture molding because it doesn’t hold picture rail hooks, but the plan was that you could nail into the picture molding and use that to hang pictures, without putting holes directly in the delicate plaster. So far it’s working.

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Both the front and back bedrooms (the two bedrooms on the main floor) received all of this treatment. Except the back bedroom – the ceiling plaster was almost perfect in there, so I didn’t plaster over any ugly ceiling tiles.

I still need to get some yellow curtains – they will be so bright and cheery. I also intend to replace the single-pane windows and to add trim to the windows as well. I believe there used to be beautiful window trim, but the previous owner removed the original trim in the 1950s or 60s to make it more modern (when he redid the kitchen), which is truly a shame. I bet is was gorgeous, craftsman style. Tear.

But at this point, I am so happy with how the ceiling turned out. I also love how white and fresh this bedroom feels. The white walls and ceiling, with the white doors and white bedding. It just makes me so happy. I added a little bit of black and a tiny bit of color, and the crisp white of it all just hits all the right buttons.

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So that’s the latest update for you, dear readers, complete with unmade bed shot, so you get the idea.

Stay posted as I slowly get more things finished around the house.

Love,

Rachel

Hanukkah and Christmas Wish List – Lovely and Impractical Gift Guide

Hanukkah and Christmas Wish List – Lovely and Impractical Gift Guide

My family doesn’t do gifts, which is actually kind of nice. My fiance and I exchange gifts, but I think he already got me something. However, I have been putting all my extra funds into things like paint, caulk, and floor wax (updating coming soon). And while that is exciting in one way, I am drooling over all the gorgeous gifts that I cannot afford to buy myself since I am spending my money on the practical work that needs to get done at the new house.  Practicality can sometimes seem so cruel.

But I thought it would be fun to put together a Wish List of pretty things that I would like if my family did gifts or if I wasn’t spending all my extra dough at Home Depot.  Almost none of these things are truly practical – I often think a good gift is something someone wants put won’t buy for themselves because it’s just not practical.

Without further ado, my Wish List:

These adorable measuring cups from Anthropologie

Anthro Measuring Bowls

This adorable and cheery scarf (not the impractical, really, never mind my drawer full of scarves)

Gap Scarf

This iced coffee cup – you keep it in the freezer and it chills down the hot coffee or tea for you so that it doesn’t get all watery. I LOVE this idea.

Iced Coffee Cup

This INCREDIBLE french press. Be still my beating heart.

French Press.

This (or any, really) awesome live edge cutting board. Can you say “cheese party?”

Live Edge Cutting Board

This chandelier (for the dining room). It’s actually practical because I need to replace the dining room light fixture, but it’s got crystal, so by definition it’s a bit impractical and definitely luxurious. It will look amazing against the navy dining room walls.

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Gold Flatware. ‘Nuff said.

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I want to hang this picture above my bed. I love it. And it’s HUGE. And actually pretty reasonably priced for such a large piece of art.

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And finally, this pair of agate book ends. Because only lovely stone chunks are good enough to hold up my books. And because I definitely don’t have three other pairs of book ends. Nope. Definitely don’t. (Please don’t look on my mantle.)

Agate Bookends

OK. Dreaming over. Back to Home Depot.

Love,

Rachel

PS. I also want something from Home Depot for the holidays. The Nest thermostat. It’s practical and comes from a hardware store. Has no crystals or gold on it.

 

Big News, People. House-sized News.

Big News, People. House-sized News.

You. guys. It’s. Finally. Happening.

It needs a new paint job, obviously, but how cute is this?

It needs a new paint job, obviously, but how cute is this?

That’s right. We bought a house! Like an actual, honest-to-goodness house with walls and basement and attic and a front door and windows and a garage.

It’s in Seattle and it’s almost 100 years old and has coved ceilings and so much charm! So so much charm that I can hardly write a normal sentence.  The ceilings are tall – like 9 or 10 feet. Can we say big chandeliers, anyone? (Well, not huge, but you know, relatively big.)

The living room and fireplace. Windows on the left face the street.

The living room and fireplace. Windows on the left face the street.

The dining room has a great window!

The dining room has a great window!

I’m supposed to get the keys either tomorrow or Wednesday, just in time to answer the doors for trick-or-treaters. I already bought the Halloween candy and will lug it around in my truck until I can get into the house.

From kitchen towards back of the house. The cabinets are from the 50s but are in incredible shape.

From kitchen towards back of the house. The cabinets are from the 50s but are in incredible shape.

From the kitchen into the dining room. I need some new appliances.

From the kitchen into the dining room. I need some new appliances.

So stay tuned because there is some big stuff a-brewing here on Suits and Aprons with all the good home repair things I have in store for this gorgeous, old, charming, craftsman-ish house. I say craftsman-ish because it’s not entirely craftsman style on the outside, but the inside has arched doorways and coved ceilings which are just awesome.

This is the front bedroom. it's small, but charming.

This is the front bedroom. it’s small, but charming.

The back bedroom - looks right out onto the solarium.

The back bedroom – looks right out onto the solarium.

Here are the pictures from the MLS listing. As I get into the house, I will start posting more before and after pics.

Upstairs attic will become the master bedroom.

Upstairs attic will become the master bedroom.

Other side of the upstairs closet.

Other side of the upstairs attic.

This is the bathroom in the basement. It needs a lot of work, but it has potential and it has a WINDOW. And it's there.

This is the bathroom in the basement. It needs a lot of work, but it has potential and it has a WINDOW. And it’s there.

Upstairs bathroom - check out my sweet turquoise tub and toilet. In great shape.

Upstairs bathroom – check out my sweet turquoise tub and toilet. In great shape.

Oh, and check out the sweet solarium it has in the back. In Seattle, you really need a solarium – a place to absorb the limited sun that we get.

THE SOLARIUM! That's right, a solarium. Because that's what fancy people have.

THE SOLARIUM! That’s right, a solarium. Because that’s what fancy people have.

As you can tell, it needs some love, but I. Am. So. Freaking. Excited. That. My. Face. Hurts. From. Smiling. AHHH!

So that’s what’s happening here, dear readers. Soon I will walk you through all my remodelling and updating plans.

Here is a brief list of things I want to do:

1. Paint house so it’s no longer mustard brown. Maybe dark gray with white trim?

2. Paint kitchen cabinets white. Maybe black/charcoal lower cabinets? Brass hardware. Paint counters to look like marble. New lighting.

3. Paint almost everything flat white.

4. Polish/seal floors. They are in surprisingly good shape but need either Restore-A-Finish or Danish Oil to come back to life after 50 years under carpet.

5. Do the Apartment Therapy Style Cure in the dining room. SAY WHAT?! That post is coming up soon.

6. Paint fire place surround black, I think?

7. Do something awesome with solarium. I have no idea about this room, but it’s exciting. I want to fill it with plants and a cozy place to drink coffee in the morning. Not sure quite how to get there.

8. Attic: Rip out carpet, get rid of low-ceiling tiles to vault the ceiling. Add third bathroom. Obvi, the attic will take some time. And money that we don’t yet have, but we will. Eventually I also want to make it bigger by adding two dormer windows. Again, this will depend on finances. May be a few years…

9. Fix the turquoise bathroom. Needs new floors. I cannot afford to replace the tub and toilet, so I’m going to celebrate the vintage turquoise fixtures and do some fancy design tricks that maybe make the turquoise look intentional. Because it totally was intentional. I wanted a house with turquoise fixtures from the beginning.

10. Eventually rip out door between dining and kitchen and replace it with an arch that matches the arch between the dining and living room.

11. A million other things that I want to happen.

Who wants to come visit and stay in my guest room?

House-sized hugs!

Rachel

Campaign Dresser Nightstands – The good, the bad, and the ugly

Campaign Dresser Nightstands – The good, the bad, and the ugly

I got these campaign dressers ages ago. Actually, my awesome fiance ran around like a crazy person to pick these up, driving to hell and gone, playing an intense game of Tetris to get them to fit into his car. Thanks, babe! I love them.

They were in rough shape to begin with. Here is one, I think it was $35.IMG_0288

Here is the other, that I think was $25.

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Amazingly, these were both listed on craigslist on the same day or one day apart (i can’t remember), by different sellers. They don’t match exactly, but they were the same height and depth, so I figured that was close enough.

Both were a combo of wood and particle board, so I didn’t feel bad painting them.

I wanted to have a super shiny high lacquer finish like this one from Little Green Notebook.  I didn’t follow the instructions she gives properly and had to repaint these three times. They still aren’t perfect, but I finally gave up.

First, I thought I could use a water based paint that claimed to be super high gloss. This paint left INSANE brush marks. Then I went and bought oil paint as recommended, but the brush marks of the previous paint showed through the oil paint. Also, I think I should have waited longer for the crappy water based paint to dry before doing the oil paint. Then I had to apply another coat of the oil based paint to try and get a smoother finish, but by this time, I had spent hours painting and sanding and fixing parts of the drawers, and still wasn’t happy with the finish.

That’s when some unknown person in my building became my worst enemy.

When I was applying the last coat I wanted to apply (EVER), the neighbor in our building watered her plants on her balcony above our patio (without looking) and got water all over my wet oil based paint and ruined the finish.  I may have cried. I was so upset and so tired of working on these dressers. This is when I gave up.

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You can see that the finish is not glass-like. It’s got tons of brush strokes, and then weird marks and wrinkles where the water sat on the wet paint. I said “enough,” let them dry for another few days outside, and eventually brought them inside My job was starting a few days later (this was last August when I had first moved to DC), and I did not have the time necessary to continue stripping and painting these guys.

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And you know what? They look OK once in the room. I may at some point strip them down and repaint them, but for now, this works for me.  Most people don’t even notice the wonky finish. Or at least they are nice enough to lie to me about it. (Thanks, Victor!)

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I took off the handles when I was painting it, but I couldn’t get the corner pieces off without bending them, so I just painted around them. If I do repaint these, I will trying to get the proper tools to get the corners off so I can strip this baby down and start all over again. I used Bar Keepers Friends to polish the brass – it works really well and is super cheap.

I love how the brass and navy look together, and I love the combination of the brass on the campaign dress with the silver on the headboard. And this whole project cost me less than $100 for two custom night stands, so that’s pretty awesome also.

That is all.

Love,
Rachel

DIY Upholstered Greek Key Headboard

DIY Upholstered Greek Key Headboard

When I saw this headboard from Serena and Lily, I knew two things: 1. I had to have it; and 2. I could TOTALLY DIY this bad boy for less than $1650. Way way less.

DIY Greek Key Upholstered Headboard

DIY Greek Key Upholstered Headboard

So I made the bad boy above. That’s right. For about $100.

First, I made the frame out of plywood. I used 3/8 inch plywood. I had the hardware store cut down the plywood sheet to the desired size (I think it was overall four inches wider than my king size mattress).  I attached 2×4’s to the edges of the board to create room to put foam, and also give me a hard surface to put nails into. I wanted a hard edge so I could add the nails, but wanted this headboard to be really soft and cushy and super comfortable. So I had to make enough space for both foam and nails.

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The width of the 2×4’s and the 2×4 squares was just enough to allow me to nail in the Greek Key squares in the corners.

IMG_0705I screwed the 2×4’s into the plywood. Pretty straight forward and simple. (I screwed from the back through the plywood and then into the 2×4’s).

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I used two memory foam egg carton mattress pads to fill in the inner square. I had to trim the corners of the memory to get the memory foam to fit. I used two layers of egg carton memory foam to make sure the frame was completely filled out and that the headboard was super comfy/squishy. I got the memory foam on clearance from Walmart, I believe – I spent like $30 or $40 on all the foam.  Once I had the piece cut into the proper shapes, I sprayed the plywood with spray adhesive (outside) so that the memory foam would fit.

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Then, I covered the whole thing in a layer of batten, stapling around the backside.

Next, I wrapped the whole thing in this gorgeous sea-foam velvet that I bought ages ago. I’m not including this in the price of the headboard since i have had the fabric for over two years. But, we are counting, I think I used about 3 yards of the velvet, which would add about $60 to the overall price.  I stapled the velvet to the backside of the frame, starting in the center of each side and slowly moving towards the edges. I folded the corners carefully, like how you would fold a present.

Then I started adding the nailhead trim. I used one where you simply nail one in five of the nails, not all of them.  Though I usually love gold or brass finishes, I felt like silver was the better color to compliment the sea-foam.

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Each Greek key corner took a lot of time to lay out. Measuring out the distance from the side, getting the spacing perfect. ensuring everything was square took a LOT of trial and error and lots of calculations (and recalculations). The corners were definitely the hardest part of the whole project.

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Eventually I got everything where I wanted it, as you can see in the picture above. Or at least, I got it close enough. One of the corners is not perfectly square, but I finally said, “Enough!” Then i had a glass of wine and stopped worrying about it.

Then four months later I took some pics of the bedroom. Here is one of those:

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And a little vignette, where you cannot see my bed frame that has no bedskirt covering it…

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Price breakdown:

Wood and screws = about $40.

Foam and batten = about $40.

Nailhead = $21

Total (not including fabric I already had) = $101.

Total savings from the original version = $1650 – $101 = $1549!!!! OMG, I’m rich! And accomplished. And modest.

So later, I will post about these dressers. And maybe about the pillows. Both the dressers and the pillows were a DIY.  Get excited…?

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

Greek Key Love,

Rachel

PS. There are big changes a-brewing for Ole Rachel here. Really exciting ones. Coming soon.

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