Lucky Number 21
 
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I am so excited to share this project! I started my ottoman painting project over the weekend, and I have been working on it ever since. I am about halfway done, and I wanted to share the progress!

First, here is a list of my supplies...
  1. Garbage Bag - or a tarp, or drop cloth. Just to make sure I don't spatter paint everywhere, which I have been known to do.
  2. Denatured Alcohol - to remove the sheen from the leather.
  3. Sandpaper/Sanding Pad - I started with 240 grit sandpaper leftover from another project, and then I finished with a 320 grit foam sanding pad by 3M. This was a purchase definitely worth the extra couple bucks, because it was nice and soft on the leather, and the foam conformed to the cushion of the ottoman.
  4. 1 Quart of Do It Best water based paint, eggshell finish. I was SO not sure what finish or type of paint I would need, but this one seems to be doing the trick. The color I chose is called Mocha Treat.
  5. Paint Tray and Brushes. I show a foam roller in the photo below, but PLEASE don't use one! It didn't work at all. Take my word for it.
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Here are a few before shots of the ottoman, in all it's light blue glory.
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First, I used a sponge with some dish soap and water to wash the surface of the ottoman. It turned out to be pretty dirty, so I am glad I didn't skip this step.

Then, I used a cotton rag to wipe the leather down with denatured alcohol. This stuff is pretty nasty, so if you have to use it indoors, you should open all the windows and get some ventilation going. The fumes were very nasty.

After that, I sanded down the entire surface with the 240 and 320 sandpaper to roughen up the finish, which would allow the paint to adhere better. Then after all the sanding, I wiped with a damp cloth to catch all of the sanding dust.

Next, I poured some paint into my tray, and mixed in half paint and half water straight from the tap.
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The idea here is to do many very thin coats of paint so that they absorb into the leather. My half and half mixture was actually a bit strong for the first two coats, so I had a Chinese food container set aside with tap water to dip the brush in before painting. I developed a technique here, so if you are going to try this at home, I would test a few different methods out and see what works for you! The brush, the type of paint, and the surface you are painting will all have a great effect on the results.

Since my ottoman has a few seams, I took some extra care to make sure I got paint in all of the cracks. Here is what it looked like after one coat of watery paint.
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At this point I was a bit nervous!! But, don't worry... It gets exciting! I am going to have to make you wait until Part II for the progress!
 
More Curtains! 09/08/2011
 
Finally. Finally. Finally.

I found curtains for the living room. Ones that I like. AND John likes. AND they don't clash or compete with the couches! Take a look...
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I got 4 long panels and 2 curtain rods with finials for a total of $50! I like the look of the darker color curtain rod, even though I didn't put a lot of effort into hanging it. I didn't want to put more holes in the wall since we rent. And the management seems pretty attached to the security deposit, so I want to get as much of that baby back as I can!!
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I like the way the color pulls out some of the brown aging I attempted in the starburst mirror. It was kind of drowning in a sea of white until now! Speaking of a sea of white, that pile of frames on the chair has to go up on the other wall ASAP!
 
MEGA Post 08/22/2011
 
This is what happens when I get so backed up with exciting things to share that I have to do it all at once!!! Hold on to your hats ladies and gents, here it goes!

We will start from oldest to newest...

First, I hung my vision board above the desk, and a little set of hooks in the kitchen - so cute!
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The apron was a housewarming gift from my sister, Lindsay. I love it!

Speaking of housewarming gifts, here are a few presents John and I got for the kitchen. The gel mat in front of the sink was a gift from John's mom. It is soo nice, it's my favorite to stand and do dishes barefoot!
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She also got us this sign, which I appropriately placed above the wine bottle cheese board that my mom gave me a couple of years ago.
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"I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food."
From my lovely, Kate, came a mustache wine bottle opener. So classy!! I decided it needed to be on display. :)
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Another friend of mine, Katie, went to the Outer Banks and brought me back this stone, which I placed in a seashell from my vacation spot, LBI. I think they go well together. Looking at it makes me feel happy!
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John just completed an art project - we have been working on saving bottlecaps for some time! It absolutely love the way it turned out. When it was done, it inspired us to hang some more frames in the hallway, too.
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These two frames are dedicated to Lindsay - she gave me both prints as gifts at one point or another. I love them both - it makes me miss her, but I am glad I have a little part of her here! (Love you Linds <3)
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Last weekend, Christina, my DIYer in Crime, spent a night at the apartment and braved the creation of a roman shade... Let's say that the amount of time and money I was willing to put into the project weren't going to yield the results I wanted. That's putting it nicely. Here are some shots of the fabric choices in the bedroom, which I am kinda proud of!! The new shiny fabric is a curtain I got on sale at TJ Maxx.
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I ended up just hanging it and gathering it off to the side. Unfortunately the blinds and the A/C unit don't lend much room for elegance. For the summer, however, they are both necessities.
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Lastly, I finally spray painted the frames I want to hang in the living room! Can anyone say Oil Rubbed Bronze? I tried to find a color that was metallic, gray, and a little brown... I am still not sure how I feel about it but I am glad that all of the frames have a cohesive look. What do you think?
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My favorite is the one on the bottom left. Here is a close up!
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 I have been pretty busy around here! I will leave you with a teaser of my next big project, painting the ottoman!
Here are some color swatches I picked up at our local hardware store. I am living with the swatches for a little while until I make up my mind. What ones do you like? (The colors don't come through exactly the way they look in real life, but they range from buttery yellow, to creamy caramel, to a warm grayish brown.) I love them all!
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Time will tell... In other news, you can see how badly the ottoman needs refinishing, due to all those pesky cats at home who scratched up the finish! ;)
 
 
I have settled on a few things today and I wanted to share in a quick update!
  • I purchased curtains which I am going to use to make a roman shade for the bedroom.
  • I decided on a color (family) to dye/paint/experiment the blue ottoman in the living room.
  • I have some fun ideas for the blank wall in the living room.
Now, if only I had the time to actually do all of this?!
 
Indecisive. 08/07/2011
 
I am usually not so indecisive when it comes to decorating. For whatever reason, the red themed couches in the apartment have been a huge challenge for me... This is what it looks like, RIGHT NOW, as I sit here to write this post.
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The walls remain mostly blank because I have no idea how to go about coordinating my normally happy, teal accessories with dark red couches. Also please note that I made no attempt to hide from you the mass of cords that lives on the floor, nor the little silver Christmas tree in the box that is waiting to move down to the basement. We might as well just keep in in the living room until Christmas!

I really do like them, these couches, but I thought I would try and switch it up a bit. Enter, the SLIPCOVERS!

First, I tried the tan ones.
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Something about them just wasn't working for me... It's all a little too bland, but I just couldn't figure out why I didn't like them.

Next I tried the plain white slipcovers. I think plain white is a trend that can make furniture look really nice and streamlined, and make a space look more airy and casual. For whatever reason, I didn't like the white ones either. Just for kicks, I tried leaving the couch red and making the chair white. No dice.
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So, here I am back to red couches, with zero inspiration on how to finish off the room.
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I did find a couple of ideas on Pinterest that I thought might pull everything together into a theme. This very simple pallet shelf has a rustic quality to it, and requires very little manual labor. With no power tools, nor a garage to work in, we are a little limited, but this shelf looks like something I could handle!
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Image from Here.
When I posed the idea to John, he said that he didn't feel comfortable hanging something that heavy on these walls. We aren't really supposed to hang with anything other than a small picture nail. That idea didn't last very long!

Do you guys have any ideas for how to tie this furniture in with the rest of the apartment? I can't help but long for a slightly more modern sofa. Something like this IKEA piece is within my comfort zone.
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Image from Here.
A neutral colored couch allows for so many more possibilities when working around it! Good lesson to remember when we have to go furniture shopping... I am definitely being challenged here in little #21!
 
 
I feel bad. I have been hiding a room from you this whole time! The bedroom is one of my favorite rooms in the apartment, but it is far from done!

I started with the comforter, since it would be such a large focal point in the room. I had a hard time finding a comforter that was not too girly and not too manly, especially given the strange purple-brown-mauve color of the walls. Don't get me wrong, I love the wall color, it just posed a challenge! The comforter I decided on is a light tan color, so it doesn't clash with the walls, but it does have a great stripey texture to it. I found this one at IKEA of course!
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Because of the small size of the room and my lack of super fancy camera, I was unable to capture the entire bed. This is a pretty poor representation of the colors in the room - the walls look much warmer and purpley in real life. And yes, I am aware of the gaping expanse of space over the bed. I would love to make a headboard the next time I have a weekend to spare! (Which may be uh... never.)

The striped throw pillows had me at hello.... They are so satiny and have a slight shimmer to them, along with the same neutral tone in the comforter. The little pillow there in the front turned out to be the most perfect match for the walls! Here is a close-up to show the colors and sheen. The little dots are teal and pink! My fave :)
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Speaking of teal... You didn't think I could decorate a whole apartment without using teal, did you!? Okay, good. Here it comes! I have a little teal collection on my dresser that compliments the purpley walls quite nicely, if I do say so myself.
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I got this lamp at Marshall's for $15! It wasn't so pretty at first, you know... Sometimes you have to see the beauty in things! Here is what it looked like when I saw it in the store.
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That is the uuuugliest shade I think I have ever seen. Just look at it. I tried painting over it. I did. I stood NO chance against those fish and seashells. So I picked up this shade from Goodwill for $10. Total, I spent about $25 on the lamp which is still way cheaper than the $39.99 it was originally labeled. Here it is all lit up!
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And last, but certainly not least, is my teal owl bank. He has served me very well over the years. I love his colors and his little moustache lookin' designs. He is shiny and happy, and he holds my laundry money. What more could I ask for?
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I'm sorry for hiding the bedroom from you for so long! I hope it doesn't take so long to give you updates next time.
 
Enginerd 07/24/2011
 
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Image from Here.
As you  may or may not have already heard, I have recently turned into a real engineer! (I look just like that lady when I go to work!) So far, I am loving the new job. I have a lot to learn but I am engaged every day and that is what matters. During my first week of work, I also had to complete a midterm for the course I am taking, and write an article for an online magazine I am involved in called Moxy Magazine.
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Image from Moxy.
My midterm went well - I got a 92 - and my article was published at the end of last week. It's an interview with two women in engineering that gives some insight into the way women deal with what is traditionally considered a "man's" profession. Check it out here!

I want to thank the lovely ladies that helped me out by being and open and honest in their interviews, Norma and Christina. (I love you both!) Let me know what you thought of the article! I am excited about my exposure to Moxy, I am getting to a lot of things that I love, like writing, doing some design and coding for their social media, and interacting with a really smart, talented group of ladies from all over the globe. Feel free to check out the other articles I have written for Moxy!
 
 
I love flowers that grow wildly and seem to propagate with abandon... My mom has always said they are weeds, but I love them anyway! Dandelions are one of my favorites, I have a lot of photos and paintings of them (yet to be hung up around the new apartment). Dandelions unfortunately don't last very long after being picked.

So, when the herbs in my bud vases died, I replaced them with flowers (from weeds) I picked at the little league field down the hill. Here are some shots of the switch-up.
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I'm also trying out keeping the pictures here bigger than before. I bet everyone has a bigger monitor than the computer I was using when I started this blog (it was about 800x600 for those of you who are interested in a good laugh), so I think things will be better depicted in a larger format. Much easier to see! Let me know what you think. :)
 
 
After weeks - MONTHS even - of ogling sunburst mirrors online, I finally put a plan in place to make my own! I modeled mine after the one made by Centsational Girl, here and made it over the holiday weekend while I was visiting home. This worked out in my favor because my mom's love of DIY provided me with a lot of supplies I would have had to buy otherwise.

First, I went to Hobby Lobby and grabbed a round mirror for $5.99.  I think mine is 7" in diameter. Then, I went to Home Depot to grab some paint stirrers (free!) only to find that they were hoarding them behind the counter. Thankfully, my sister was with me and stomped right on back there and grabbed me two handfuls! What I didn't realize until we got them home was that these were no ordinary paint stirrers. They were JUMBO XL MEGA paint stirrers! I had 19 total, and because they were so huge, I was able to cut them up and still not use all of them!

I used a hacksaw to trim the handle ends off of the stirrers. It was a mini workout considering these paint stirrers were twice the thickness of the normal kind! After trimming, they were about 17.5" long.
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This is about the point where I realized how humungous the pieces are! I played with some arrangement ideas, even cutting some paper models up to test designs. I settled on trimming some pieces in half to form two 8.5" pieces, and others into one 12" piece and one 5" piece. Here is how I began arranging the 5" pieces around the mirror...
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I really wanted to try and get a shimmery sheen on the rays of my mirror similar to that of Centsational Girl's mirror. I picked up a can of spray paint for about $6, Valspar metallic in a color which I think is called "Brushed Nickel".
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Then, I sanded the cut edges of all of my paint stirrers. It went really quickly because they are made from a very soft wood. I chose not to sand the entire face of each stirrer because it was a pretty smooth and regular surface.
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After sanding, the pieces were ready to paint! I tried painting a white base coat on the shortest rays in an attempt to get some dimension from the paint, but the silver went on pretty evenly and covered the white base coat anyway. All the rays got two coats of silver.
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I was so excited to get started on my design, so I grabbed a tube of liquid nails and got to work. I chose to glue my rays directly to the back of the mirror.
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Maybe that's why all of my rays fell right off as soon as I touched them! In the midst of this disappointment, I decided I wanted to antique the finish of the rays a little bit before trying to glue them on again. I also decided to antique the finish of the mirror, too! It was looking a little bit too silver and shiny and new for my taste.

Here is where my DIY turned toxic and dangerous. Not even kidding. So toxic that I forgot to take pictures. Let me explain...

The rays of my mirror already had great texture, so I took some wood stain and a rag and went to town! First, I dampened the rag. Then, I just rubbed the stain on, and wiped it off. It was such an easy way to bring out the texture and tone down the silver.

Next, I dreampt up this crazy idea that I wanted the mirror to look older. You have probably seen old mirrors whose shiny layer has degraded a little bit, giving a mottled look. Here is an example:
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Image from Here.
To get to this point, I would need paint thinner and toilet bowl cleaner. TOXIC. If you are going to try this, please wear a protective mask and heavy cloth gloves. One of the lessons I learned from this project is that latex gloves are no match for paint thinner.

The paint thinner is used to take the paint off of the back of the mirror to expose the reflective finish. This step does not actually affect the way the front of the mirror looks. I spread paint thinner all over and let it sit, and then scraped the paint off with one of my extra paint stirrers. I read in my research that only about 80-90% of the paint needs to be removed for the next step to be effective. Here's what mine looked like when I quit due to the toxic fumes.
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Keep in mind that this is the back of the mirror - the front still looked shiny and new!

After this step, I grabbed an old toothbrush and a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner. At first, I spread the cleaner all over and started lightly scrubbing. This produced an evenly worn look over the whole mirror, but I could make out the toothbrush marks when viewed from the front.

Next, I decided I wanted a few spots to be more worn. I put a few drops of cleaner in one spot and let it sit. I found that the finish was degrading slowly even when I couldn't tell what was happening. I wiped with a paper towel and reapplied cleaner if I wasn't yet happy with the finish. To produce the most worn spots, I let the cleaner sit for about 5 minutes. Once I was happy with the look of it, I rinsed and dried the mirror.

At this step, you will have a mirror with some holes in the reflective finish, so you need to fill them in! I chose to paint the back of my mirror using a dark brown color. This is what shows through the areas which were removed in the previous step. Here's what it looked like after painting!
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After the two coats of brown paint dried, I made my next attempt to glue the rays on. If anyone who knows my dad is reading this, you know that he loves his epoxy. So when I asked him what I should use, he recommended epoxy! The epoxy he uses is about 20 years old and comes out of nasty, drippy bottles. It is made for attaching the heads onto golf clubs - pretty serious adhesion is required there!

I mixed up a batch and glued down my rays. The epoxy takes about 6 hours to cure, so I weighed everything down with a flower pot.

Now that I have killed you with details of this mirror ...drumroll please!
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Here's a closer look at the patina I did on the mirror...
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...and the finish on the rays!
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I am so happy with how it turned out!
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