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Spring Pinterest Polka Dots

8 May

pinterest spring

If you’re unfamiliar with the seasonal Pinterest Challenges (first of all, where have you been?!), it’s a challenge to get pinterest users to stop pinning ‘someday’ projects and start DOING.  All you have to do is take inspiration from pinterest and put your own spin on a project.  This season’s gracious hosts are Sherry @ Young House Love , Katie @ Bower Power Blog, Emily @ Sparkle Meets Pop, and Renee @ RedBirdBlue.  I can’t wait to see what projects they tackle!

My previous season’s Pinterest Challenge projects include sketch chair art, a DIY juju, and a coffee table bench to name a few (check them all out here).

I know I posted a pseudo-pinterest challenge on Monday,

elis one

but I’m an overachiever apparently and couldn’t resist doing another project.

I’ve been loving pretty much any DIY project I see lately with gold polka dots:  Chelsea from Lovely indeed has tackled a gold polka dot photo backdrop, a gold polka dot table runner, and a suede and (you guessed it) gold polka dot mouse pad.  Cassie from Hi Sugarplum went to town on this gold dot vase.  So, I’m jumping on the bandwagon admittedly.

About a month ago, I pinned these pillows from Anthropologie

polka dot anthro pillows

When this season’s challenge came along, it didn’t take me long to decide on this.  And I did it in under an hour, so SCORE!

diy pillow settee

(Please excuse the picture quality- I forgot my good camera at Clark again so I had to rely on my iphone camera and I am not perfected in the science of iphoneography… side note to self for future iphone pics: zooming makes it grainy, zoom AFTER you take the shot.  Now back to our regularly scheduled programing.)

I already had the gray fabric, a pillow form and sponge, so all I needed to buy was a few dollars worth of copper paint.  I said it, Copper, not Gold.  Gasp! I thought the rosy quality of the copper would compliment the gray best.

diy pillow supplies

I chose to make an envelope style pillow because they’re easy to make and easy to take off the pillow and wash.

First step is to cut your fabric- this will wrap the pillow with seams only on the 2 sides.  Make sure you allow for overlap for the ‘envelope’ part (I allowed 3 inches since I was using a small pillow form)

diy pillow cut to size

Next, fold over one of the shorter sides about 1/4 to 1/2 inch, then fold it over again.  Pin and sew- this will be exposed at your ‘envelope’ opening.

DIY pillow hem edge

Once that is sewn, fold your fabric into your pillow shape.  Make sure the ‘bad side’ of the fabric is out and the finished edge you just created in folded inside so that everything’s corrent when you turn it all right side out.  I’m not a fan whatsoever of karate chopped pillows– I like them overstuffed, so I made my pillow cover 1 inch smaller than my pillow in each direction.

DIY pillow measure size

Once you sew up the 2 sides, you can turn the pillow cover right side out.

DIY pillow flipped

Now it’s time for the fun part!!

DIY pillow paint

I did a few polka dot trials on a scrap piece to figure out my technique before I started on my pillow.

DIY pillow dot trial

I put the pillow into the cover still in its plastic so that I could paint my dots without worrying about the paint bleeding through to the pillow or the back of the fabric.

DIY pillow dots

I let it dry overnight before I took the plastic-covered pillow form out of the cover and re-inserted it sans plastic.

I’m swooning over the copper/gray combo and the scale of the dots!  Yes, I’m swooning over a pillow and yes, I know I have issues.  I embrace them.

DIY pillow

Bear approves.

DIY pillow bear

Are you loving it as much as I am??

diy pillow angle pic

I’d love to see you’re projects!  Link them up in the comments, or just say HI!


Mirror Mirror

24 Apr

Clark‘s pieces are all coming into place- He’ll probably be at 95% at this week’s update Friday, and I anticipate ONE HUNDRED PERCENT by next week’s update.(!!!!)

Last week, I mentioned the medicine cabinet was a bit of a headache.

med cabinet 1

I had hopes of putting a new, more modern styled medicine cabinet in, however my plans were foiled by the hole in the wall.  The hole was a very non-standard size and I realized it was impossible to find a new recessed cabinet the same size.  I toyed with the idea of just covering it with a flat mirror, but this is the only storage in the bathroom.

med cabinet hole

I bought a medicine cabinet, but soon realized that to open up the hole further would be a HUGE undertaking.  poo.  Unless I wanted to totally open the wall (hint: I didn’t), my only option was to revamp the existing medicine cabinet.

She needed some love, but wasn’t beyond help.  The worst problem was the mirrors themselves.  The mirror finish on the back was peeling and scraping off at all the edges.  Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of a deteriorating mirror?  Let’s just say, you’ll have to take my word for it.  The rest of the cabinet needed some cleaning and serious de-rust-ification (technical term, I promise) to make it like new.

med cabinet 2

med cabinet 3

After a quick Google search, I found a glass store 5 min from the house that would be able to replace the mirrors and transfer the sliding hardware to the new mirrors for $100 (less than a new medicine cabinet= win).  The silver frame wasn’t irreparable, but I thought it might look like a clash of styles in this bathroom, so you can probably guess what I did.

med cabinet 4

Both the inside and frame got primed, then sprayed a nice, clean semi-glosss white.

I already had both cans of spray paint, so the only cost for this project was the new mirrors.

med cabinet 5

The glass shelves inside were also in good shape and only needed a whipe-down.  I also attempted to preserve a little bit of this cabinet’s history by taping off the sticker/logo before painting so it would still be visible.  This is clearly the original medicine cabinet to the house (which was built in 1957), and I’m a sucker for stuff like that.

med cabinet 7

Even though I was intent on replacing it, I’m very pleased with the end result of Clark’s medicine cabinet.

med cabinet 6

Now that the bathroom is almost all back together, you’ll have to wait until the final reveals to see the full space.  (spoiler alert: it’s awesome)

Clark: Week 8

12 Apr

If you’re new to my weekly progress posts, Clark is my first ever flip house (named for the street that he’s on).  Check out my previous posts here.

Ak, week 8 already??  Our goal is to get this guy listed by the end of the month! That means I only have about 2 more weeks to get everything done… Craziness!!  I see lots of overtime in my future.

This week didn’t start off on a high note- slamming your finger in the car door first thing Monday morning isn’t the best start.  Luckily my finger escaped (once I unlocked the door) with just some scrapes and bruises- nothing too serious… and thankfully, the week improved from there.  Handy Dad helped me unclog the plumbing vent stack, which will finally allow the pedestal sink to drain properly and not clog!  I won’t go over the entire ‘scientific’ process with you, but it involved Handy Dad on the roof with a really big stick from the yard tied to a rope (Oh how I WISH I had gotten a picture of this!).  It may have been unconventional, but it worked!

The biggest (literally) thing that happened this week was a new roof!!

w8 roof3

w8 roof2

The roof wasn’t in horrible condition, but it did need repair.  After talking to several people, I bit the bullet and decided to put in a whole new roof.  New roof = selling feature!

w8 roof1

As you can probably also see, he got a exfoliated a bit more too.  The house painter finished pressure washing and scraping.

Back inside, little things are starting to make a difference.

w3 kitchen lights

For the first time since owning this house, there is a light above the sink (or where the sink will be).  I still love this ReStore figure- $5 plus spray paint and a chain!!  I do have to change out some lightbulbs, though.  I’ve been working with the bulbs that were left with the house, but I think every light is a different color variation.  Not kosher to this OCD designer.

I also cut, routed the edges, and painted the wood piece for the kitchen ledge.  I needs another quick coat on top, then I need to actually install it permanently.

w8 kitchen ledge

Painting is finally complete in the kitchen and hallway!  It’s such a breath of fresh air- something looks complete!

w8 kitchen hall

Satisfaction is a completely checked off To-Do list.  It may be just for the hallway, but I’ll take it!

w8 hall checklist

I had it in the schedule that the bathroom would be near complete with working plumbing fixtures again.  The schedule lied.  Either that or I’m slow and was a little too optimistic when setting my schedule.

But if we look from the hall, we can pretend it’s done.

w8 hall bathroom

Just don’t look further in- reality rears it ugly head and you can tell the bathroom still isn’t there yet. I started installing the beadboard, but I have to finalize the sink plumbing before I cover that up.  Do you notice the other new item in here?  New sconces!  The school-house style plays off the other lights I’ve installed in the house and helps add a bit of character back in.

w8 bathroom1

I had to replace some really bad “previous owner DIY solutions” for the pedestal sink.  I need to put the sink in place and cut the pipe coming out of the wall to the correct size before I do the final install of that, but I plan to get it up and running today.

w8 bathroom plumbing

Speaking of plumbing, I’ve apparently turned into a toilet hoarder (I guess it’s just a branch off my chair hoarder habits).  The previous toilet (in the back) had a scallop on the top that I just didn’t think would work with the style I was going for.  Luckily toilets are cheap and for under $100 I got this clean new eco-friendly dual flush guy.  Let’s get him in already!

w8 toilets

I’ve also made attempt at getting back to organized.  I started sorting recycling in the basement.  My town has a recycling drop off center and will happily take my car-full of cardboard and styrofoam.  I like free, environmentally responsible disposal methods.

w8 recycle pile

And since I always try to keep it real and honest here:  Sometime the answer to “why is the furnace not working?” is as simple as an empty oil tank.  Go me.

w8 oil tank

This week, I also:

  • Got the new medicine cabinet and bathroom vent fan
  • Ordered the kitchen faucet
  • Installed a new handle, closer, and wind chain on the side door (I still need to try and knock it back level though)
  • Figured out new handles for the shower faucet (I think)
  • Started figuring out my landscaping plans

Next week is going to be HUGE for my dear Clark.  I WILL have the bathroom working again by Monday- I WILL.  Monday he’s getting sexy granite countertops and Tuesday, the horrendous lumpy driveway is being uprooted for a smooth new driveway.  Hello curb appeal!  Well, I guess the real curb appeal will happen once he gets painted- just waiting on a stretch of nice, cooperative weather.

If we want to get him listed in less than 3 weeks, I need to make every second count!

Let’s Talk Tile

10 Apr

I’m not sure I fully expressed to you how excited I am about the bathroom floor tile.  It’s admittedly not perfect, but hubba hubba.

tile closeup

So let’s talk process.  This was my first time tiling, so it was definitely a learning experience.

The tools I used were:

  • tile (naturally)
  • tile nippers (for cuts)
  • thinset mortar
  • a drill with a mixing bit
  • a bucket
  • notched trowel
  • margin trowel (smaller for getting into corners)
  • tile spacers
  • grout float
  • grout
  • sponge

After getting the sink and toilet out of the way, I laid out all the tile to dry-fit it.  This is the best way to figure out where you’ll need cuts and how the puzzle will all fit together.

tile dryfit

Looks almost like a finished product except nothing is secured into place.  I took this time to start making ALL my cuts.  Since my tiles are small and almost all my edges will be covered (by wainscoting at 3 walls and caulk at the tub), I used tile nippers.


You can probably see in the pic of the floor above, just how many little snips I had to do.  I lost count of how many little black tiles I snipped in half.  Let me tell you, though, these things are secretly dangerous.  Every tile you nip sends tiny shards everywhere.  Not only did I make quite a mess, but I ended up with what looked like paper cuts all over my hands.  I’m willing to bleed a little if it means pretty tile like this, though.  I did take a run to Lowes and have them cut (for free!)  the tile that I needed at the threshold since that would be much more exposed and visible.

Then, as Ted would say on What Not to Wear, I mixed up the magic.  After a bit of internet research, I found that thinset mortar should ideally be somewhere near the consistency of peanut butter or mayonnaise.

mortar mixing

Once you spread it out like below, you then go back over it with your notched trowel.

floor mortar

The first corner, so exciting! (see the notches from the trowel?)  My tile’s were mounted on 1 foot x 1 foot sheets, so I only needed to use spaces between the sheets.

first tiles

It went rather quickly once I got the hang of spreading the thinset.

tile half way

It did inevitably escape through several of my grout joints, but luckily there’s a simple solution for that.

escaping mortar

Once the thinset is dry, you can go back with a utility knife and scrape down any areas of thinset run-aways.  You don’t need to scrape it all away, just low enough to allow for gout over it.

When I got to the transition, however, I had an issue.  My tile installation had migrated just enough towards the doorway that the cuts I had gotten at Lowe’s no longer fit.  Luckily it’s only a few minutes away, so I quickly measured the cuts that I NOW needed and ran out to Lowe’s so I could get the last few cuts and install the pieces before the mortar I had mixed dried.

tile transition

After I got back and installed the last few tiles at the door, I noticed another issue.  See the 2 tile’s popping in the middle?

tile pop closeup

I removed the trouble-causing spacers, pressed down the 2 rogue tiles and hoped they would adhere into place.  Only one did.  When I came back to check on them the next day, the little black tile was free.  I scraped the thinset from below it and mixed up about a spoon-full of new thinset to reset the little guy.

missing tile

After giving him some time to dry, I removed all my spacers and got to grouting.

tile spacers

In my eagerness to grout, guess who forgot to take pictures?  This girl!  It’s not too visual of a process though.  Step 1: Spread mud all over your pretty new tile.  Step 2: Use sponge to clean it off.  Step 3: Let it dry.

Then you get a pretty finished floor like this one.

w7 bathroom floor

Clark: Week 5

22 Mar
If you’re new to this series, Clark is my flip house (named for the street that he’s on).  Check out my previous progress posts here.

I’ll admit, I started this week a little discouraged.  I was making progress, but not the big strides I was hoping to.  Plus more snow here in Massachusetts just made me want to retreat to my couch and hibernate.  Luckily, I re-found my groove yesterday and got to check several things off my extensive To Do List.

I did a lot of prep work this week to ready the kitchen for cabinets.  I had high hopes of them getting installed at the end of this week, but IKEA’s kitchen installers had other ideas.  I know I can install an IKEA kitchen, but in the interest of time, I’m hiring installers- or at least trying!  I purchased the kitchen March 1 and have been going back and forth and not having my calls returned or being told they’ll call me later and maybe hearing from them 3 days later- this has been going on for THREE weeks!  They’ve finally “put me on the schedule” for next Thursday and Friday, but I’ll believe it when I see it.  I’m also shopping around to see who else can install, this is getting ridiculous.  Ok, end rant.


kitchen w5 1

This week, a lot of little things happened in the kitchen:

  • ceiling has been painted (2.5 coats)
  • all trim got painted (2 coats)
  • electrical was updated and brought to code.  Now there’s even power for the fridge, dishwasher, and new vent hood!  The old vent hole got patched.
  • the basement door got trimmed down so it fits with the new floors
  • the heating cover also got trimmed down to accommodate the new floors & the whole shebang got painted
  • Did you notice the new light?

kitchen lights

The new ceiling light in the kitchen (which you may recognize, since it’s also in my own living room) will go PERFECTLY with the $5 ReStore fixture that I got.  The ReStore fixture got a few coats of oil rubbed bronze spray paint and a new chain and looks like a million bucks (in my humble opinion).

kitchen w5 3

The heating cover face was a challenge.  I had to use a jigsaw with a metal blade to trim down the bottom- the body of the heating cover is fixed and I floored around it, but that meant that the face sat 3/4″ too high when I tried to put it back on.  Once I cut it down, I filed the sharp edges and painted the beast to match the trim.

kitchen w5 2

Why, yes, there is a To Do list on the wall.  Last week I was the crazy person that taped out the kitchen cabinet layout, this week I’m the crazy person that taped a To Do list in each room to help me keep tabs on what needs to happen in each space.

hallway w5 3

Plus, it would be a lie if I said I didn’t get tremendous satisfaction every time I got to put a check mark in one of those boxes.

hallway w5 2

The hallway also got a lot of love this week since it’s open to the kitchen.

hallway w5 1

I finally decided to work on the floor transitions that I had been putting off.  The 3 bedrooms have nearly complete transitions, so half the hall is starting to look finished!  The other half is on today’s agenda.

hallway w5 4

This picture of the hall is my favorite so far.  I know it’s not that exciting, but it shows the most progress!!!  It shows the newly painted ceiling and trim, the new hall light, a FINALLY working doorbell, AND a newly painted linen closet.  The closet painting was just SO satisfying because of where it started.  If “dingy” was a color, that’s what the closet was.  Now it’s a bright clean white.

I’m really pleased with the light too.  It was a whopping $11 at Lowes and has the vintage flare that this house needs.  (Please disregard  the halo around the light in my instagram pic- I’ve since touched up the ceiling and it’s looking pretty)

new hall light

The bathroom is the next target.

bathroom w5

Since I’m hoping to be working on the floor tile when the kitchen is getting installed next week, I had some bathroom prep work to do.  The wall at the corner guard is in the process of getting patched and the ceiling has been scraped, sanded and patched.  Next week I can get a fresh start and paint the ceiling and even the walls before I start tiling the floor.

Other accomplishments this week include:

  • updating all the outlets throughout the house to be grounded (yay!)
  • gluing the bathroom door where it was split down the side
  • picking out backsplash tile
  • picking up 1 more cabinet at IKEA because I modified my original plan by getting a smaller fridge

I can’t help but think I’m forgetting something that got done this week, but really, the ceiling and trim painting were the biggies.  I spent most of my week with paint all over my hands because that’s what I do apparently.

Hubby and I keep hearing about how HOT the spring real estate market is going to be, so we’re getting excited to get this guy back on the market!  Only a few more projects before we can list.  Just a few.

Flip Tip: Trimming

20 Mar

In last weeks Clark update, I showed you the new trim on the basement and side doors.  Today I’ll show you HOW to add new trim to a door (or window, or anywhere) and and make it look like it’s been there forever.

First you need to remove the old or offensive molding.  I chose to replace the trim on these 2 doors, because they had obviously been replaced by the last owner and didn’t match all the other moldings in the house  (tip- match other molding when replacing a piece of trim- it’ll look seamless and original).  I was a little overeager and neglected to take a picture of this step, so just imagine an image here of me using a prybar to get the old moldings free.  Can you see it?  Great!

Now you have a blank slate.

trimless doors

The tools I used were:

  • a compressor
  • a brad nailer
  • a door trim kit
  • a miter saw (not pictured because he’s hanging out in the basement)
  • white wood filler
  • white paintable caulk

trim tools

If you don’t have a compressor and nail gun, you can certainly use finish nails and a hammer, but this girl likes power tools.  They’re fun.  and much quicker.  The trim kit was my other way of saving a little bit of time, but you can also buy trim by the foot at any home improvement store.

As you can see below, the trim kit was a bit larger than the door, so I still had to make a few cuts.  I trimmed a few inches off the bottom of the sides, and used my trusty miter saw to shorten the top piece to the desired length and keep the 45 degree angle.  I’ve been using my brother-in-law’s chop saw that can also be used for miters, but a hand saw and miter box work just as well.  (if you’ve been around this blog for a bit, you may remember my miter saw and a similar how-to when I did my dining room’s picture rail)

trim kit size

Use your nail gun to securely fasten your new trim into place.  Now, unless you’re a perfect measurer and builder, you’ll probably have a few small gaps.  No worries- that’s what wood filler and caulk are for!  Use wood filler (you can get this in white or whatever wood tone you’re using if you plan on staining) to fill the nail holes and the corner joints.

trim corner

Sand it smooth once it’s dry and no one’ll know.

filled door trim

The step a lot of people forget is the caulk.  Make sure you get PAINTABLE caulk, because otherwise you’re work will look terrible when you try to paint the trim or walls.  I again got a little overeager and forgot to take pics as I caulked the doorframe, but luckily I had some window molding to caulk where it had come loose (because the genius who build the old cabinets nailed them to the side of the window trims…. that’s not usually how it’s done…).

See, gap. (slightly blurry gap apparently, but you get the picture)

trim gap

With your paintable caulk, add a small bead right in the corner.  Please disregard my paint-covered hand.  I’m a very neat painter, but somehow my hands get covered.

trim caulk 1

Luckily, your caulk bead doesn’t have to be perfect because you’ll smooth it all out in the next step.

trim caulk2

I’ve found that my finger is the best tool for the job, but make sure you have a wet paper towel handy to wipe the excess of your finger.

trim caulk finger


trim caulk done

When you’re all done, no one will be able to tell the molding hasn’t been there since day 1.

door trims

The same steps can be used to replace almost any trim in a house.  I’ve never attempted crown molding, but I know that’s a whole other beast…. but this method can be used for base boards, chair rails, picture rails, etc.

Happy trimming!

Clark: Week 4

15 Mar

I can’t believe it’s week 4 already!  (check out previous progress here)

I’ve been doing a lot of flooring.


But I’m VERY pleased to say the kitchen and hall floors are DONE!!! (with the exception of closets and transitions which are ongoing)

kitchen floors 1

They make me so happy I could tap dance, but that would hurt the floors and be very counterproductive, so I won’t.

I do need to shave down the bottom of the basement door, so that it can open with the new floor thickness, though.  This is what it looks like heading down to the basement- pretty wood tread.

hickory stair tread

This is where our IKEA cabinets will be installed.

kitchen floors 2

I may be the crazy person who taped out where the cabinets are going to go to help me determine what fridge size/style to buy.  May be.

kitchen layout1

I think I have it figured out, but I’m going to measure the heater when I get to the house today, just to make sure before I buy appliances.

The basement door and side door also got new door trims to match the rest of the house.  They had been replaced by the previous owner and were the only trims of a different style in the house.  No more!

door trims

This week’s other accomplishments include

  • buying LOTS of supplies for the next projects at Home Depot
  • harassing the IKEA kitchen install guy to give me a date (looking like end of next week, but not set in stone yet)
  • getting more quotes from painters, electricians, gutter guys, etc
  • purchasing the granite countertop
  • more appliance research
  • and did I mention laying lots of hard wood floors?

I’m hoping next week’s progress will be in leaps and bounds!