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Another year, another wishlist.

Another year, another wishlist.

I cannot believe I’m turning 31 this year (in a month). Somehow 31 might be more emotionally charged than 30, though I’m not sure I can really articulate why.

This summer, I’m turning my attention on my outdoor space to truly take advantage of the wonderful Seattle summers. Here are some things I’m coveting for an outdoor space, and just some things I’m coveting in general. Since my birthday is coming up, indulging in a little fantasy shopping seems like an appropriate thing to do.

A new iPad. I know it’s not “outdoors” but my iPad is old and is starting to slow down. I doubt it will last much longer and then what will I watch while I’m baking all the things? While we are at it, I could really use a new laptop (old laptop is terrible, hence the blogging hiatus, but so much money).

Outdoor string lights. I already bought two sets, but I’m pretty sure I could find use for a third or fourth.

Planters – large for outdoor use and smaller ones for indoor use. In chartreuse, teal, turquoise, and cobalt (white or off-white is good too). Here’s an example.

planter

I CANNOT EVEN. This zebra must be mine.

zebra planter

Actually, all the animal planters from Anthropologie are so so good.

critter planters

This unicorn lamp in white. Because it’s one of the greatest things I have ever seen and I will find a place for it if it’s the last thing I do.

unicorn lamp

These triangle planters – in both sizes for maximum effect. How cool would these look filled with spider plants (which I happen to be swimming in), cascading down the walls of my all-white bedroom? The answer: super cool.

triangle planters

A cooking class. Not sure what kind though – perhaps Moroccan or Indian? Maybe bread-making? I have made bread before, but I would love to branch out a little more and refine my technique.

A cordless weedwacker, because I am a nerd who is excited about keeping my home and garden in shape. Both weedwackers that came with the house appear to not work, alas. I figure this is the universe’s way of telling me that I should get a cordless weedwacker that doesn’t require me to pull that cable a million times to start nor me spilling gasoline in the car because that darned gas can keeps leaking…

weedwacker

Original art. A girl can dream. And lately this girl has been dreaming about filling her home with original art but the budget just does not allow it…

And while I’m at it, these outdoor chairs are intriguing but are out of the budget for the time being, though I actually think they are fairly reasonably priced. The more I think about it, the more smitten I become with these chairs. They look soooo comfy.

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What do you want for your birthday? Do you want practical things like weed wackers or fun things like unicorn lamps? What’s your favorite thing to put on the barbecue?

Love,

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.

Out of my comfort zone: Tomato Red

Out of my comfort zone: Tomato Red

In my decorating, I’ve been sticking to blue, white and yellow. I know my boyfriend likes them, I know they look good together, and they are safe.  I would throw in more pink as often as possible, but that makes the man a little uncomfortable.

Here she is with nothing in her. Next to my insect poster.

Here she is with nothing in her. Next to my insect poster.

So when I started painting this cabinet for the kitchen a light teal color, I thought it would be fine because it was blue-ish and we generally agree on blue. I had rolled on one coat, and was starting on the second coat when he came out. He saw what I was doing and goes, “We’re painting it that color? I thought we were done with that color.”

And with that, we were on the way to the hardware to pick out a new color that we could both agree on. The deal was that I would buy the paint, and if I didn’t like it, he would buy replacement paint and the paint for the next thing that I wanted paint. I could live with that.

I wanted to go with a fuschia. I figured the kitchen was my space and so I would do what I wanted and get away with bright pink. But that apparently was not in the cards. After a lukewarm discussion in the paint aisle (I won’t say it was heated, but it was definitely not room temperature), I selected a bright red – bordering on pink and orange.  As the paint was being mixed, I was getting more and more apprehensive.

Doesn't she look nice with my aqua bowls?

Doesn’t she look nice with my aqua bowls?

I left the hardware store in a sour mood – really questioning this decision. There is nothing red in the apartment. It is not going to go with anything. I pouted the whole way home. But, boyfriend reminded me of the deal, and I sucked it up and tried to get excited.

Then, I thought about the great bedroom makeover from Kristin on the Hunted Interior – the one with the Kate Spade pallet of red, pink, aqua, teal and black.  I loved that room and it had both tomato red and lots of cooler blue tones.  I also thought about the bright red secretary and red drawers from Jenny at Little Green Notebook.  I swallowed my fear and started painting.

FIVE coats of paint later (ladies and gentlemen, buy the best quality paint you can when going dark. I didn’t even buy the cheapest and it still took FIVE coats to get the coverage I wanted), and I was in L-O-V-E. The color was soooo good. And sooooo bright. And so unlike things I’ve done before. Breaking my mold felt so good. I was finally liberated from my self built prison of white, blue and yellow. Finally, I was free to mix colors with reckless abandon (OK, maybe with just *more* abandon than I previously had done).

It’s funny, because in college and even when I was younger, I used to decorate with whatever pleased me. Things were usually super saturated bright colors and jewel tones, and everything generally went well together, even if it wasn’t exactly stylish. Somewhere along the line, I stopped just buying and selecting things I liked, but started selecting the things that I thought I should use. The result: I was fairly unsatisfied with my apartment – it felt pretty, but not very me.

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This kitchen cabinet is the start of something new. While I will still have to compromise to get the boyfriend to go along with whatever I am feeling, I have learned that following my gut instinct has the best results. While I was busy trying to please others, I wasn’t pleasing my boyfriend’s design tastes nor my own. Go figure.

We love the red. It’s fun and different and the start of a new era.

What do you think? What have you done decorating-wise that made you uncomfortable but turned out great?

Love,

Rachel

Lipstick-on-a-pig dresser

Lipstick-on-a-pig dresser

There comes a time in life when you move in with your boyfriend. And you HATE his furniture. It’s black laminate crap from Walmart. A whole set of black laminate crap.

You spend days and weeks dreaming of the perfect mid-century modern dressers, or reclaimed wood pieces. And then you realize that you already spent all of your signing bonus on moving, movers, a new couch and a trip to the Dominican Republic. So, this is not really a sob story (because all those things were pretty awesome), but it is a story about me spending money in some places and then not having money for new dressers. (And yes, I looked at local thrift stores and craigslist. Duh. DC thrift stores and craigslist both kinda suck when compared with NYC and Princeton thrift stores.)

Ugly crappy black laminate furniture that does not jive with my decor tastes.

Ugly crappy black laminate furniture that does not jive with my decor tastes. This is what it looked like about 3 days after moving in. Excuse the mess. Or don’t. Whatever.

So you come back to reality and you kindly let your boyfriend move his ugly furniture into the apartment, and then when he turns his back YOU BUST OUT THE SPRAY PAINT AND MAKE THAT SH*T SO MUCH BETTER! (“Sorry, sweetie… Uh… I went to the store and when I came back it was just painted and had new hardware. I have no idea what happened!”)

And, like last post, there is no fancy staging or anything because the rest of the apartment is still coming together slowly. And I don’t want any readers out there to feel bad about themselves when they see all the awesomeness in my apartment, and stuff… er…uh… Yeah. That sounds good.

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So I sanded it lightly, used some Kilz primer (the good stuff), and then gave it three coats of white satin spray paint. Then I switched out the hardware from those ugly steel pull thingies to these brass Martha Stewart cup pulls. At $1.98 a piece, they are affordable AND stylish. Oh, and they are gold colored, which obviously my boyfriend LOVES, just like he loves all my paper mache taxidermy (oh yeah, get excited because that’s coming soon).

Ahhh... That's better...

Ahhh… That’s better…

The only problem with painting it white is that now the poor quality materials shows (like the fact that the spaces between teh drawers are not all even).

Regardless, I am very happy with the transformation. And I put the dresser on casters, so now I can roll it around easily and stuff.

The dresser won’t last that long, since it’s poorly made crap, but this pig looks SO much better with just a little white and gold lipstick. Until I can get some new stuff or have a major thrift store score, this will work just fine.

Love,

Rachel

Newly Painted Patio Furniture

Newly Painted Patio Furniture

I’ve done SO many projects since moving in, but am not yet at the point where I can stage things and they will look pretty. And let’s be honest, I am not one of those incredible design bloggers who have fabulous photographer friends anyways, so maybe it’s for the best. So you get to look at my pictures like this, which just show you how I actually live, not how I want you to think that I live. Le sigh.

Moving on. I got this awesome patio set on craigslist for $130, which I felt was maybe not a steal, but definitely a good price. And the set is SUPER comfy.  The chairs rock a little, but are stable. So very relaxing.

It was a little rusty and definitely needed a coat of paint to clean it up.

Rusty table

Rusty table

Rusty chairs

Rusty chairs

A little wire brush action, and some Rustoleum spray paint in “Lagoon,” and now I have this lovely set.

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Lagoon patio furniture is better than rusty white.

Lagoon patio furniture is better than rusty white.

I didn’t stage it.  I just took some pictures when I was out there enjoying the morning sunshine and looking through cookbooks as I planned menus for the week.

Anyway, quick and dirty post just to show you guys that I am not a total deadbeat and have been doing stuff. I need to get more plants and pretty outdoor accessories, but it’s quickly getting colder so we spend less time outdoors. This will wait until the spring.

Love,

Rachel

PS. My finger hurt SOOOO badly after using that Rustoleum for so long. I like the Krylon easy touch spray.

New Blue Velvet Sofa

Remember that time when I was obsessed with blue velvet? Oh wait. That time never ended.

But now that itch has been scratched so good. Because I bought a blue velvet sofa from West Elm and I couldn’t be happier.

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This is the first piece of furniture that I have EVER bought retail, so that was a big investment for me. It was a little treat from me to me for finishing graduate school and getting a real job with benefits and a 401K and all that good stuff for the first time ever.

I lucked out because West Elm was having a sale on sofas that included CUSTOM ORDER SOFAS! Usually, their sales are just for the colors that they have in ready stock, but this sale was 25% off of even custom orders. So I got a great deal on the special blue ink velvet sofa that I wanted. I ordered the sofa over the summer when I studying for the bar, and then it was ready to deliver by the time we moved in. Yay!!

Anyway, just wanted to share. More stuff is to come, but between getting everything settled and adjusting to my new work schedule, I’ve found that doesn’t leave much time for blogging. And leaves very little time for staging and taking beautiful pictures. Let’s face it: patience is not my strong suit.

Love,

Rachel

PS. My boyfriend thinks the sofa looks great, but he thinks the seat part is too narrow and says he feels like the back cushions are pushing him off the sofa. I think it’s pretty comfy. Just an FYI for those who are interested so that they really give this sofa a test drive in the West Elm show room.

PPS. This post is not sponsored by West Elm. But, West Elm, if you are reading this and want me to review any of your other goodies, I am a willing guinea pig! 😉