Friday, July 11, 2008

wood floor primer

Image from

Kerry from Portland, recently asked me a big question: Where do I start when contemplating installing hardwood floors? I say that it is a big question, because as I began to sift through all of the information out there, I became overwhelmed too! So, Kerry, good question.

The boring basics first: a great place to begin is with some measurements. You won't get very far into the process if you don't have a general idea of how many square feet of carpet you are going to rip up and replace. If you will be installing the floors yourself, it might make sense to do it in stages, which will ultimately help you budget the project as well. Prioritize which spaces need the most immediate attention, and tackle them room by room. (Just in case: To find the square footage of each space, just multiply the length of the room by its width.)

Now, onto the fun, visualization part: to help you focus your search for the perfect type of wood, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

What kind of look am I after? Cottage or modern, warm or dark, glossy or satin?
In thinking about that first question, take into account your furnishings, rugs and accessories, the period of your home, etc. Look through magazines for inspiration, since it is hard to imagine how fabulous those floors are going to be when what you're staring at right now is boring beige carpet.

Where will I use the hardwood? Will the area sustain heavy traffic? If so, you'll probably want to rule out softer woods like pine and fir. Want it in the bathroom? You may want to use laminate to get the look, instead of the real thing, which will expand and contract quite a bit with excessive humidity.

Is this my forever house? Yes: choose a wood that is classic enough to stand the test of time. No: maybe you can save some money by using a laminate option instead.

Try checking out this article from Martha Stewart's website, it has some great information on selecting the right type of hardwood for your flooring needs.

Different types of woods featured on Marta Stewart's site.

Next you need to consider your budget and time constraints. Undertaking a home improvement project which will ultimately add tons of value, not to mention charm, to your home is a big investment. Projects like this usually take more time and money that you originally plan for.

Once you have narrowed down a few types of wood you might want to use, it would be smart to get quotes from several resources. Just to give you a general idea on pricing I found the following information on Home Depot's website(if you are installing it yourself):

Engineered Hardwood: $60-$120 per 19 - 24 sq. ft. package

Brazilian Cherry

Wood look Laminate Flooring: $40 - $90 per 19-24 sq. ft. package

Whitehall Pine

Some other sites for helpful tips:
This Old House has a website that is loaded with video relating to flooring, and there is one about choosing reclaimed wood for flooring, which is a great option if you have the means. also features a lot of valuable information about installing hardwood floors on your own. There are step-by-step instructions on where to begin and how to do it.

My Home Ideas is great site for inspirational images to guide you in choosing the look that suits your desires.

Any flooring store should be happy to answer any questions you have about the process and investment of adding hardwood floors to your home. Maybe an outing to a couple of places in your area should be your next step.

Well, Kerry, I hope that gives you a place to start, and offers a little insight for any other readers that might be contemplating the same project! Let me know how it turns out!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

a flea market wish list

There is so much about the flea market and antique store cruising experience that is serendipitous. Treasures are found that you never imagined would make their way home with you. Vignettes and displays inspire you to recreate and redesign the things you already own. Impulse buys prevail. However, it never hurts to have a list of things on your mind when you are out hunting. That is why I have created my "Antique Store Wish List", and have written it in a tiny notebook that I keep in my purse.

Want to know what is on it? I knew you did. Here goes:
~ A globe with a grand patina
~ An old grade school-esque map of someplace else (Ex: the Caribbean, Italy, Greece)
~ A pair of plug-in wall sconces (period/style not important, just not Victorian)
~ An eye catching vintage tablecloth to turn into a slip cover for my ottoman
~ Old, weathered chalkboard
~ Classic looking alcohol decanters
~ Circa 1920's oil-rubbed bronze door knobs, like 4 or 5 of them
~ A door knocker with lots of character and preferably very old looking
~ 4 matching claw feet for a cast iron tub that sits covered in brambles at my husband's grandpa's pasture
~ A wicker armchair

That is about it. It always seems to be growing though. That little notebook, which I call my "design journal", also contains lots of other decorating details from my house.

I have written measurements for different things, like windows, pieces of furniture, wall spaces that could use artwork. I also jot down design ideas in it, or specifics on a piece I find while out shopping (this is why I keep a small tape measure with me at all times).

I taped-in paint chips for each room in my house.

I have also included some fabric swatches for several of the rooms.

I even taped one of my business cards inside the front cover in case I lose it!

This little book has been a really valuable tool for me in my decorating adventures. It is very easy to create, and I highly recommend that you do it. Just find a small notebook that fits in your purse, and get started!

This design journal may come in handy this Saturday, as I head to downtown Bremerton for the second round of Simply Renewed's 4th Street Market. Starts at 9am, goes till 4pm. I was out of town last month, so I am excited to see what's featured. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

bedroom: almost done!

Pictures of the bedroom before its micro-makeover.

As I stated yesterday, reorganizing the closet spurred me to kick the rest of the bedroom into gear. It hasn't felt quite "done" to me since we moved in. Here's what I addressed in redesigning it:

1. Moving my dresser to the closet not only freed up floor space for a pretty, round bedside table, but eliminated the morning ritual of bonking my head on a sharp corner while attempting to turn off the alarm clock.

2. I painted the lower half of the wall (used to be a greenish-beige) the same creamy butter color as the top half to unify the small space. Also moved the alarm clock to Chris's side! Hee hee.

3. I switched out the two dramatic, (but too-dark) black lamps for a happy, small brass lamp with a sultry red shade and the translucent yellow lamp that has now made the rounds in almost every room of the house.

4. Found a great way to bring in some texture, pattern and light blue with the geometric wool runner I scored at the BI Rotary sale for $5.

5. Simplified the bed by eliminating the four dark red pillows and bringing in just two lighter colored pillows. Decluttered the top of the dresser and only brought back in a mirror, a candle and two framed photos.

6. I finally hung the dressing mirror that has been leaning against the wall in that very spot for two years!

So there you have it. The room really feels much more put together and calming now. The last thing to do is the headboard project. The clear winner of the poll was the black and white stripe fabric, but I am starting to think I should just go neutral. Lucky for me, I don't have to decide right now, since its not in the current budget! For now, I am so pleased with the room, I want to go and take a cat nap in it!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

closet serenity

It all happened so fast and it was out of control. Despite constant efforts to contain our clothes and shoes, our bedroom closet had become a living, breeding, mound of clutter. I know, I know, how can a self-proclaimed, savvy organizer live in such disarray? Trust me, I am so ashamed.

At 30 inches deep and 57 inches wide, I am not exaggerating when I say that this closet is tiny. And, as the only real closet in the house, it has to work for both of us. Ever since we moved in, I have been attempting to force it to be efficient. I bought a shoe organizer right away. I put in a drawer unit that contained medicine, extra toiletries, slippers, and swimwear. I hung a sweater organizer from the top rod to corral our favorite sweatshirts and sweaters. The clothes and shoes seemed to multiply, even though no new articles were being introduced. At some point, I lost my motivation to keep on top of it every day and embraced the chaos that hid behind the curtain.

Yesterday, I was surveying our bedroom. Little piles of clothes had started to crop up outside the closet! I decided that something had to be done. I resolved to regain floor space in the bedroom and start from scratch in the closet.

Once I dragged everything out of it, including the dust bunny colony, I looked over the empty space. Boy was it ugly. It had never been painted. So, I coated it twice with a high gloss creamy white. Lucky for me, it was a hot day and it dried quick. I set to work putting things back in, but scrutinized it all along the way.

Over half of my husband's hanging clothes are never worn. I carved out a spot for them in the basement next to the winter coats. This eliminated the need for the bottom hanging rod. Oh, joy! I put my dresser in next to the sturdy plastic drawer unit. The shoe organizer, when tipped on its end, still fit inside, just underneath the hanging sweater organizer.

Up top, I hung our clothes in a color coordinated fashion, which not only looks good, but helps me really see what I've got to choose from. (Now I just need a collapsible step stool so I can reach them!)

On top of my dresser, there is a little mirror and a wooden dish for my everyday earrings, next to my larger jewelry box.

I installed a small rack with three hooks for belts and my robe. The single hook that had been there previously, was always falling out of its hole, and I had more belts that it could hold. I also mounted two "moon lights", as previously the closet was not lit, which I think added to the creation of the disturbing abyss of clutter.

It is amazing how spacious the bedroom now feels with one dresser in the closet. With all of our things now organized in a sensible way, the whole room feels more restful. I think I slept better last night, and getting dressed this morning was fun! I even went a few steps further and added a couple of things to the bedroom, which I will show you tomorrow. For now, I do believe that this is more than enough!

Monday, July 7, 2008

old chairs made new

Grandma's pretty and precious dining set.

Aimee was the lucky recipient of a lovely dining set from her Grandma when she bought her Chicago, Illinois condo two years ago. The only problem with the set was that it fit right into her Grandma's traditional style of decor, not hers. Aimee's decorating sense blends modern, contemporary, and found vintage pieces.

To modernize the dining chairs she scoured IKEA for the perfect graphic, yet classic fabric. She even considered curtains and bedspreads, of which she had several in her basket when she called me to consult over the phone. I looked online while she braved the store, which seemed to be hosting a "bratty kids Tuesday" event, judging from the background noise.

An original chair next to Aimee's updated one, much improved.

We settled on two different black and white prints from the Gunvor collection that complement the curves of the traditional dining chairs perfectly. The project was inexpensive ($5.99 yard for the fabric!), and hardly labor intensive, but the design impact is incredible! In a matter of minutes, Aimee took these chairs from predictable to punkish. I know she does not want to paint then, but I think they might look amazing painted a bright turquoise, don't you? Have you got any simple, but dramatic d-i-y projects to send in? Please do!

Not grammy's fussy floral anymore!

Gorgeous, simple, and fun!