DIY…”expensive” lamps

IKEA is a great starting point.  There’s nothing wrong with IKEA.

That said, everything I’ve bought there at some point, has turned to absolute crap.  Although, if I really think about it I’m almost positive it might be more of a ‘user problem’ than a ‘manufacturer problem.’

Like the time we mapped out a floor plan of our office to determine the exact size and quantity of bookcases we needed.  Somehow, someone’s measurements were off by an additional six bookcases.  IKEA was over an hour away and I’m lazy, so we left them in the box and I sold them on Craigslist.  And the bookcases we did build, half turned out like Pisa.

Unfortunately, that was my half and I’ve yet to hear the end of it.

I’m also not allowed to measure anymore.

lamp

{my lamp reno arsenal: junky lamps, new shades and spray paint}

I’m thirty (Jesus, that was harder typing than I thought) and being thirty I’d prefer not to have college-dorm looking lamps anymore.

So, of course, looking for replacements, I fell in love with a gorgeous chinoiserie pair for a little under $1,500.  And while you might not be privy to my current finances, I’ll fill you in- I currently don’t have $1,500 to waste on a pair of chinoiserie lamps (honestly if I ever have $1,500 to waste on a pair on lamps to go in my bedroom we should all be amazed).

But as Pinterest informed me, since Pinterest is quickly replacing all other media outlets in my life, I can upgrade my terrible lamps with spray paint (!).

Well then, consider this project done; I wield a mean can of spray paint.  Especially while drinking cocktails.

lamp 2

I bought some white silk lamp shades but wanted to contrast the interior with a semi-gloss gold.  Since these are going in the bedroom on the nightstands, I wanted a dim, warmer light.

I taped the edges (I bought blue tape in bulk when painting the house.  I love it.  I wear it like a bracelet on my arm) and sprayed the interior.

lamps 3

We renovated the house we are currently living in (and hopefully moving out of soon) in brushed nickel.  Personally brushed nickel isn’t my favorite.  It’s a little generic for my tastes and I like character.

The Boyfriend would rephrase that as I like “old looking things.”  So for the base of each lamp, I spray painted each an antique brushed pewter/gold color.

He’s right.  I like old looking things.

lamp 4

So with my new pink screwdriver, I tightened and reworked everything back together.  No more wobbles, and all in all, less college-esque looking.  At least this is a step in the right direction., and took me less than thirty minutes.

I placed them on top of my upgraded IKEA side tables.

Maybe IKEA isn’t so bad after all.  You just needs a little spray paint.

And someone other than me to put it together.

one bar cart, two bar cart, three…

I saw on the internet the other day (I’m being vague on purpose, I was pinning) the idea of taking an IKEA laptop table and making it into a bar cart.  Honestly, who would’ve thought.  Definitely not anyone who has ever met me before.

IKEA, you just sold yourself another junky laptop table.

I LOVE bar carts.  I already have two, but they’re currently in storage (and I’m over them) so I’m using that as an excuse to make another one.  So not only do I love bar carts, turns out I love DIY too.

red table bar cart

{pic of previous bar cart area…}

Unfortunately when I get an idea is my head, it quickly becomes all I think about until exorcised.  This time it has proven to be a little harder because there’s not a single IKEA in the state of Louisiana.  Although I really didn’t imagine that to be a problem, I’d just do what I had originally planned to do and order from the website.  Apparently they’re shipping straight from Sweden because the shipping cost on my $38 table was $150.

Pass.  I don’t really need a third bar cart that bad.

Except apparently I do; I could not stop thinking about how I desperately wanted this dumb table.  Like I said, there is no moving on (for anyone) until I make this table.

How bad did I want it?  Not bad enough to drive five hours to Houston for it, but evidently enough to pay someone else to drive to Houston for it.  The most amazing company exists for people who live too far away from Ikea (or are too lazy).  I found Love Blue Bag online and they make weekly trips and charge a small percentage to pick up your Swedish junk for you.

They will even put it together for you.  I have my fingers crossed my table will come in a table sized box.  I didn’t pay extra for construction.  Although I probably should, my IKEA creations always end up slightly lopsided.  Or in the case of our old dresser (sold on craigslist to a artist who specializes in erotic art – that was a weird meeting), a hammer went straight through the side.

So wish me luck.  I get it next week.

Brittany's Bar Cart

On a side note, my close friend in LA had her bar cart featured on Popsugar as the “casual cool” alternative for a bar cart.  Love this idea.

Don’t drink that cat wine though.  Terrible.

office business…

I put off remodeling the office for as long as I possibly could; I think it was one of the last things I finally did in the house.  At least I think it was, renovating the entire house ended up blending into one giant stressful blur.

Executive Office/Suite.

{old office pic and also note this is not my furniture}

 {although I kind of like those chairs}

I ended up keeping the caged glass brass light fixture attached to the fan, I love it.  God only knows what I’ll do with it but I’m the new proud owner.  It’s currently sitting in my garage, awaiting further instructions.  Every once in a while The Boyfriend picks it up muttering “what in the hell is this…”

And just like in the rest of the house, the pink carpet had to go, even the bathroom had pink carpet.  The walls needed to be skim coated over the wall paper then textured and painted, the trim needed to be painted a white semi-gloss and, lastly, someone needed to stain the wood paneling on the walls.

The light oak look is not one of my favorites.  I’m sure in twenty years no one will like darker woods anymore but I’ll worry about that then.  And if I still haven’t sold this house in 20 years just kill me.

office stain

 I asked our general contractor how much it would cost to have someone stain it and was informed it would be around $2,500 – $3,000 (a sum I’m almost 100% positive he pulled out of his ass) and decided I would just do it myself.  Our contractor was terrible, it was just the blind leading the blind over here.

So I vehemently told The Boyfriend (who seemed rather skeptical) that “I can do anything I put my mind to“.  And since, let me tell you how many times that statement has been thrown back in my face.

This was actually one of the hardest things I did in the house.  Although, looking back on it, I’m pretty sure I said that after each thing I accomplished.

Stained the bannister, “hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Painted trim and doors in 5,000 sq foot house, “hardest thing I’ve ever done.”  Actually, maybe not the hardest but definitely the most boring.  I thought I was going to climb the walls (painters joke, you probably didn’t get it) with how boring it was.

And I did learn painting a ceiling is significantly harder than I had originally thought.  I got so much paint in my eyes I thought I was going blind.

So after the hardwoods were laid, I got to work.  I had to sand the paneling twice to get the gloss from the original paneling off.  Then I stained the paneled walls twice and put on a satin poly coat.

I paid a handyman to skim coat over the wallpaper because I was told the process takes a lot of patience.  And as I learned bout myself when painting the trim, me and patience are like cheap vodka and Betty Ford.  It’s a difficult relationship.

Then I textured and painted with pale cappuccino.office final

 It ended up being a battle of wills as to whether we would paint the trim white (my idea) or stain to match the paneling (like in the original).  No one seemed to be able to visualize the white.  But the benefit of being the only person there painting from dawn til evening is that no one seems to realize when you just go ahead and do what you want.  White trim gave the office a more modern look and made it seem larger.  Sometimes you just have to stay the course and do what you feel is right.

Not to get all Taylor Swift but haters gonna hate (or maybe that’s Ice T circa mid-nineties).

But in the end, I created a gorgeous modern office perfect for people who like doing math and reading smelly books.

Me, I’m more a chrome and glass type of office gal.

wine trays for all…

It’s interesting when you want something so bad, for so long, then when you finally find it the greatest emotion you can conjure up is ‘meh.’

And after scouring the internets for years trying to find affordable vintage french wine crates, that don’t involve ridiculous over seas shipping charges, I stumbled upon some for only $9 in an antique store around the corner. No shipping charges, just throw them in your car.

I mean, I have plenty of Trader Joe wine cases, but I feel aesthetically, it’s just not the same.

wine tray 7I snagged two (a Bordeaux of course) and briefly contemplated buying all of them then reselling them on the internet at an astronomical mark up.  Is there a market for wine crates or am I the only person excited to buy a wooden box?

I had originally been to the antique store looking for a writing desk but found these crates instead.  They had about 20 or so and I told myself I’d come back in a couple days to pick up.  All I could think about for two days were all the boxes being sold out from under me so I hurried back before my anxiety skyrocketed even more.  All 20 were still in stock.  Apparently the market isn’t as strong as I had anticipated.

So I began searching Pinterest (please help, I’m turning Stepford) and found lots of interesting ideas.  Emphasis on interesting.  Someone had even refinished an entire wall with wine crate pieces.

Why would I want to staple gun pieces of wine crate to my wall?  I just spent three months painting every inch of this house.  I will die before anyone staple guns anything to it, I will guard these freshly painted walls with my life.

wine tray 6

Since clearly that was out, I found what I thought to be one of the easiest (WRONG) ideas.  I would make it into a tray.  As in- disassemble, rearrange then reassemble.  Oh, and stain and poly it.  God, staining is a nightmare.

wine tray 4

So I ripped apart one of the boxes and made measurements for pieces to be cut.  It just so happens The Boyfriend received a circular saw for Christmas. We’ve both been to scared to take it out of the box, as if taking it out of the box consigns one of us to losing a hand.  But  I was determined to make this tray (I get ideas stuck in my head and no one gets any peace until I do something about it) and somehow persuaded The Boyfriend to risk his hands and cut the trim.

wine tray 3

He cut the trim, I stained everything, including my hands (plural because I still have both of them), and I let it dry for a couple hours.  Last part was to reassemble.  Well, I was just going to nail the sides back on but with the first swing of my pink hammer, I smashed the trim into about 6-7 pieces.  It like spontaneously combusted in my hand.  So then I spent an hour gluing everything back together.

wine tray 2

Then I realized, screw these nails (construction joke, you might not get it), I’ll just glue the whole thing back together.

Et voila.

wine tray

So if you ever come over to my house, just remember don’t touch it.

vanity tables & french wine crates…

I haven’t owned a vanity table since I was seven.  Then, it was hot pink and had flowers.

Apparently my tastes haven’t changed much, I think I wore this headband last week.

me- beauty

I assumed I would be able to find a vanity table online; you can find anything online.  I bought a two pound bag of chia seeds on prime last week.  It’s all there, everything except a non-tacky vanity.

Along with my blind devotion to all things Amazon, I like to try and buy from small businesses.  So I looked on Etsy thinking I could find a vanity table that I could fix up.  Make into my dream vanity.

But there is one problem with this idea, finding something amazing is like finding a diamond in the rough. The Etsy cup overfloweth with homemade crap.  People had taken gorgeous french provincial dressing tables, painted them a baby blue or ‘distressed’ white, slapped some chevron contact paper in the drawers and called it “shabby chic.”  And then charge $450 for it.  I’m not paying $450 for ruined furniture that I’ll have to spend three days scrubbing with sand paper.

For example:

hideous

This shiny little gem I found for $400 plus $100 shipping.  People are crazy.  And God only knows how I would get the shellac off this desk.  And the groovy seizure inducing contact paper would have to go as well.  My first vanity was pink, at thirty (one, aaaaggghhhhh!!!) I’m looking for something with a little more subtly.

After my miserable failure that was Etsy, I opted for local shopping.  I love shopping.  I’ve been perusing the antique stores hoping to find a less pink, less shiny option.  I’ve yet to find what I’m looking for.

french wine crates

BUT, I did find these amazing french wine crates for $9 each.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with them but clearly I needed two of them.  It’s funny how when looking for one thing, you buy two of another instead.

So in the meantime I’ll continue to scour antique shops looking for non pink furniture then drink wine and scour Pinterest and figure out what to do with my wine crates.  I definitely get more creative when wine is involved.

Win-win!

c is for courtyard. c is also for cocktails…

When we moved in, the gated courtyard was not my favorite.  It had white stones instead of grass and where there weren’t stones there were overgrown azalea bushes.

The stones seemed a little out of place to me.  If this was Arizona or Nevada, I could understand but Louisiana is like a sunnier and way less hipster version of Seattle for the amount it rains here.  I wanted green.

Of course I asked our contractor (mistake number one of hundreds) if he could remove them.  He quoted me something astronomical, which I started to notice he did often when it was apparently something he didn’t want to, or couldn’t, undertake.  So the stones stayed.

It’s not like I was going to remove them.

DSC_0192

 {courtyard before}

Here’s The Puppy wandering around trying to find a spot to go the bathroom.  He’s scared to walk on the stones and he would be lost eternally to the azaleas.  He had no options.

courtyard grass

So I ripped up all the bushes, planted sod and decorated with giant pots of flowers.  Yes, I planted sod. I’m amazing even myself these days.

bistro set

For the rocky-part of the courtyard, since clearly they were there to stay, I thought about how I could at least make it slightly more attractive.  I found this amazing little bistro set on amazon (prime!) but was concerned when the box arrived flat.  Not sure what I was expecting but I thinking  maybe a more table and chair sized box.  Apparently someone had to put them together.

lightingAfter I put the set together (as The Boyfriend and The Puppy watch from the window) I started looking for other easy touches to improve our little courtyard.

When I was at a lighting showroom picking out exterior light fixtures, I found this little matching pendant light perfect for above my table.

pansies

My last stop was the gardening store.  Final touch, pots of pansies everywhere.  Then I was done.

table top

Now I see all the amazing things you can do outside.  Read outside.  Have morning coffee outside.  Drink cocktails outside.  Write this blog outside.

Honestly, the possibilities are endless.  I don’t know if I mentioned this but you can drink cocktails outside.  It’s amazing.