Bringing color into a small, beige bathroom

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I was so traumatized by some of the bright colors in our house when we moved in, that I painted the vast majority of the rooms very neutral colors. The once sunshine yellow bathroom became boring beige.

But a neutral wall color doesn’t mean the room has to be lifeless!

To bring life back to this small, bland space, I went to art and soft goods that could easily be replaced when trends change.

The inspiration for the room came from the shower curtain. With a bold geographic pattern in shades of blue, green and orange- it was just the trick to bring color into the room.

The teal of the shower curtain was my favorite part, so I used that color as inspiration for the towels. The rest of the good were simple luck. I already had dark blue, green and orange softgoods that could easily be used in this room. A piece of art with shades of blue and green finalized the design.

You need yellow in your life

When I was young, I hated the color yellow. My mom loved it, however, and always forced it on me. As a blonde, I never felt like I could pull yellow off (I now know how wrong I was!). I liked purple, and pink and aqua- never yellow. My mom finally won when I was about 10 and gave me a yellow (and purple!) bedroom.

I’ve since warmed up to this sunny color. It’s bold, it’s unabashed. It isn’t afraid to be yellow. It’s cheery. Yellow is always in a good mood. And it puts you in a good mood too. Yellow doesn’t follow the crowd. When gray, black and eggplant want to be somber and dreary, yellow is always there to put some life into the party.

If you, like me, like soothing, dark colors- then you need yellow in your life.

How to use yellow-

– Keep it small. Yellow’s big personality leaves it better used as an accent color

-Use it to offset dark neutrals. Navy, gray, black, eggplant all look fabulous accessorized with yellow

-Draw the eye. Yellow in strategic places will help bring the eye where you want it. Rugs, throws and accessories are the perfect places to use yellow

-Don’t be afraid. A little yellow never hurt anyone.

Downstair Door Renovation

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I’ve been wanting to repaint our doors since I moved in, but haven’t gotten around to it. Then, not too long ago, our dog managed to trap herself in our laundry room and chewed up the door frames trying to escape. That made the need for a redo even more apparent.

This past weekend- I finally did it! The project took a while, but was cheap and made a huge impact. From stained, discolored doors with gold handles to bright white with silver, the whole project ended up costing about $50!!

In the before photos you can see how beat up the doors were.

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First step was to fix what the dog broke. I got the trim very inexpensively at Lowes, it was a perfect fit (thank you builder grade)!

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From there, I took the door knobs off and gave the doors a good cleaning- which in itself was a huge improvement.

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For the doorknobs, at first I thought about replacing them- but it was going to cost $20 a door for standard knobs! I decided instead to try to paint them first, if it works- great, if not, at least I tried. In order to give the knobs the best chance possible, I took my time and tried to do it right. First, I sanded the knobs with 120 grit to give the paint something to adhere to. I started with primer and let it cure for a day. I followed that with a two coats of nickle spray paint. I had something that looked like spray clear coat, but it ended up being white. So there was a third coat to cover the white. Hopefully the paint isn’t too thick.

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For the doors, I went with two coats of paint + primer. I would have had better results if I sanded the doors first- but I know how messy that is and I didn’t want to remove the doors from their frames, so I opted for the paint + primer. This worked great with two coats. I used a brush for the details/trim and a 4″ foam roller for the flat surfaces.

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I’m very happy with the end results! It’s a huge improvement and all for a little bit of work and a gallon of paint.

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What I’ve been up to

This blog has gone un updated for a while. It’s not because I stopped doing stuff on the house, simply because some more important things happened that ended up taking up my time.

March of last year, this happened at the bottom of the Grand Canyon

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What followed was almost exactly 13 months of planning for our wedding. There was plenty of happy moments and stress along the way. And I became uninterested in blogging as I focused on such a big event. We got married on April 26th on a beautiful spring day in Los Angeles.

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Following out wedding, we took two weeks and honeymooned in Spain, which was spectacular. But now, we’re back to regular life. It didn’t take long for me to get bored without a wedding and honeymoon to plan. So I’m officially back. With a new and improved look and tons of projects still to complete.

Dear DKNY’s social media manager

You are doing it wrong. Very wrong. I am so shocked by what I am seeing that I had to stop and blog about this. I may have to leave early and get a drink because after looking at your social media presence, I think it is time to drop a mic on this week.

This gal has a reach of nearly a million people between Facebook and Twitter and yet, it looks like it was handed over to the company gossip.

Exhibit one: the release of DKNY’s new perfume “Cashmere Mist”. I understand that a new product launch can be exciting… but is it this exciting?

 

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Every single one of the brand’s Facebook posts from the month of July is about either Cashmere Mist or Liquid Cashmere. It gives me the impression that the only thing Donna Karen is selling right now is this perfume! Un-be-lievable.

You would think that if the Facebook page was all Cashmere all the time that Twitter may suffer from the same fate. But oh honey, it is worse, so much worse.

The Twitter account is ‘DKNY PR Girl’ (@DKNY). This is intended to be a day-in-the-life of some fashionista lucky enough to be working at the in-house PR for DKNY. She’s been handed the keys to the kingdom, but somehow, I don’t think the Queen knows what she is doing while she is out.

Mostly, she’s talking about her preference of condiments (I can’t imagine Ms Donna Karen would ever eat a hot dog)

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And sometimes she is bashing VIPs. She’s so excited about this tweet that she’s pinned it. Because that celebrity may not actually see it and realize she’s been shamed on Twitter. Can you say fall out?

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What isn’t she doing? TALKING ABOUT HER CLIENT/BRAND! At all.

This is my reaction to all of this

Unfortunately…. I don’t think anyone at Donna Karen has any idea what is going on here. And it is a shame, because for more than a million people, these social media sites are the face of DKNY. It is what they think of when they think of the brand. This is now DKNY’s social brand- a snotty girl who looks down on others and is too lazy at her job to post about anything other than perfume for an entire month.

If someone was paying attention to what is being said about Donna Karen, perhaps they would find this post, but I don’t think that is going to happen. So let’s learn from this example.

Tips for making sure your social presence matches your brand:

1. Don’t entrust your brand to just anyone. You would’t let an intern write copy or design an ad and deliver it to a vendor without reviewing it, right? So why let someone equally inexperienced manage your social brand.

2. Create online brand standards. What is your voice, tone and style? What topics are to be avoided? What do you want people to think of you? I guarantee you DKNY doesn’t want to be thought of as this girl. But that is how who I think of when I think of the brand.

3. Review content and analyze its impacts. This need must be balanced with the equally important need to be flexible and timely. Front loading calendars with pro-active content that can be planned, then peppering it with viral opportunities as they come up is key.

4. Listen to what others are saying. Your brand isn’t what you think you are- it is what others think you are. Thankfully, with the plethora of social media listening tools out there- you can see what people think of your brand and address it. People are more likely to post if they have a negative experience- and they are likely to never purchase your products again if they are ignored online. So listen and respond. If you notice a trend in complaints, address the problem and thank fans for bringing it up.

5. Follow yourself. I guarantee you if Ms Karen was following her social media channels this person would have been fired a long time ago. Sadly, I don’t think anyone is paying attention.

I hope to never see a brand’s social media presence managed this poorly again, but sadly… I don’t think that is realistic.

Painting 101

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When watching shows like HGTV’s House Hunters I hate it when I hear potential home buyers say things such as, “I really love this space, but I hate the color.” I find myself yelling at the TV “just paint it!” And yes, a gallon or two of paint is a really good way to personalize a house, but what I’ve learned over the past week (and the past in painting many rooms) is that painting is just a step below a rocket science.

With four bedrooms, a loft, formal living and dining rooms, den, etc, we have roughly fifteen rooms in our house– depending on where you draw the lines. Even though some of the rooms were nicely painted, fifteen years after those colors were selected, they are no longer in style, so practically all of the house will be repainted. In fact, I can only think of one wall that will remain the original color.

But– not all of the rooms were nicely painted, such as the dreaded pink secondary bedroom, which looked like it was painted by a 12 year old, and it might have been given the particular shade of bubble-gum-Bieber pink. There was paint on the window frame, all the baseboards, the outlets, etc and that just infuriated me, because it doesn’t take that much time to properly prep a room.

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A bad paint job in a bad color can make for a cover up nightmare

After a week in the house we’ve managed to paint five rooms: two secondary bedrooms, the master (not including the bath) and the formal living and dining room and have opened six gallons of paint in the process. Here’s some things I’ve learned as we reach the 30% point in painting.

  1. The EZTwist Paint Stick and Shur-Line edge painter are the best painting tools you can buy. Don’t even think about it, buy them. The EZTwist Paint Stick pulls paint into the built-in extension pole, reducing the number of times you need to get paint which leads to less drips and less paint waste and lots of time saved. The Shur-line edge painter is seriously the best item under $3 you as a home owner can ever buy. Plus it saves you on copious amounts of painters tape and time, all with better lines. You can’t ask for more. IMG_20120108_152153
  2. Canvas drop cloths bleed. Double them over, get the plastic backed ones or these nifty new 3M hybrid paper/cloth drop cloths in a blue green, they are brilliant. The rolls of paper are worthless on carpet, they don’t stay put and frequently expose the edge of your floors to paint.
  3. Paint with primer in it is not a miracle worker. It’s a time saver if you are painting over an obnoxious color or turning a dark room light, but for a standard paint job, save your money and just buy regular paint.
  4. You can pick paint from a chip and love your decision, and you can buy a sample and paint two large test areas, purchase a gallon the paint and discover after you are done with the first coat that you hate the color. Life’s just like that sometimes.
  5. Bad paint choices can be retinted. As I was hitting the “yes it is OK for you to take this obscene amount of money and my first born in exchange for this paint and supplies” button for another gallon of paint, my boyfriend called to tell me the walls were purple. They were supposed to be grey. Brought the paint back over the the paint department, did some trouble shooting, added a little bit of brown to the mix and now our walls are a beautiful mink grey brown or “soft rabbit brown” as Valspar calls it, opposed to “Channel Seal Grey” which ended up purple in our bedroom, but grey downstairs. So go figure. 069
  6. Five minutes worth of prep is worth a lifetime of peace of mind. If you ever get paint on your ceiling or a light switch every time you look at that mistake you will hate yourself. So do your self a favor and spend the time prepping. It’s a lot easier to remove a face plate and tape over an outlet than it is to replace said items later because you can’t stand the paint on them. On the same note, a few extra minutes to do something right, like getting on a latter for a hard to reach corner, is well worth the pay off in a job well done.
  7. You can’t do it all. As much as I wish we could paint the whole house before we move in, it is unrealistic. To paint a room right takes an entire day, so to do a whole house will take weeks if it is just you and a loved on. So take your time and conquer the rooms one at a time.
  8. It is all worth it. After a day slaving away with a roller and brush, it is amazing to stand back and admire your handy work.

Tip: how to remove sticky stuff from stainless steel

It’s a shame someone else didn’t know this, because we were able to get our dishwasher at a 35 percent mark down because some bright sales person had attached a sign to it using packing tape, which leaves a horrible residue on stainless steel. Unlike non-steel appliances, you cannot just scrub gunk off as this will scratch the surface.

I originally tried a polish, but that did little to remove the tape, so I reached into my car detail supplies and pulled out my secret weapon: clay bar.

Clay bar is used on paint as the first step in a detail. Gently gliding the clay on a well-lubricated paint surface will remove all the impurities making the car glass smooth and ready for polish or wax. It’s great at removing tar, gum, bugs and as I suspected, glue. Clay bar is very easy to use and you can find it at Target, Wal-Mart and the like. Buy the starter kit which comes with the bar, a lubricant and wax. If you buy the bar separately you can use soapy water as the lubricant, but most stores don’t sell it on its own.

After cleaning the appliance, spray the affected area with your lubricant and gently rub the clay bar over it:

New laminate floor

At the same time we did the tile, we also replaced all the flooring downstairs. The existing flooring was not much better than the tile we had ripped out. The laminate was very thin and inexpensive oak and the carpet, while not very old, was poor quality as well. We went shopping for materials right at the end of the year and lucked out with a few good sales enabling us to get all the supplies 1,250 sq ft of flooring for about $3,000. From a time perspective it took us six days to do 1,000 feet of laminate in four rooms. We did the living room, family room and kitchen all at the same time and went back another Sunday to finish the den.

Tile and laminate waiting to go in.

Tile and laminate waiting to go in.

When we pulled the laminate up it because very obvious how shoddy the install was.

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We had a lot of time to think about the flooring and had decided to replace the tile in the kitchen with laminate to create a more cohesive space. How our house is designed, there’s not a straight line between the kitchen and the family room to change flooring on. Previously, the tile of the kitchen came out about two feet into the laminate space so when you walked into the great room, you saw laminate and then tile. I didn’t like this. So we removed both laminate (easy) and tile (hard) to go with a single surface solution.

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Behind Aren you can see the tile extending past the pantry wall and into the family room space

The tile in the kitchen had a long crack in it. We learned from the next door neighbors that the floor had cracked within the first year of the home being built- just typical settling. The original owners filed a warranty claim. Being an insurance company, the problem was fixed as inexpensively as possible by removing the broken tiles and putting down a ton of thinset to “level” the floor before putting new tiles down. The crack wasn’t ground down or filled and sure enough- it cracked again, only this time it cracked out of warranty. We fixed it right before putting down the new floor.

Before (crack was filled in with white calk and can be seen between the island and sink

Before- crack was filled in with white calk and can be seen between the island and sink

checking for level

checking if level after grinding

During- after grinding the crack and filling the part of the kitchen that was unlevel.

We then filled the lower part of the kitchen to make it level.

After- completely level and ready for new flooring.

After- completely level and ready for new flooring.

Of all the jobs we’ve done, laminate is the one thing I wouldn’t do again. Well, let me clarify. I would not do a complicated room like our kitchen again. There were so many cuts and measurements plus an unlevel wall that I was very close to giving up. Even now, I’m not 100% satisfied with the job. If it’s a fairly rectangular wall, like our living room or den, laminate is easy. But for a complex room- hire an expert.

Getting started in the formal living room.

Getting started in the formal living room.

Dog helping out

Dog helping out

Almost done

Almost done

Done!

Done!

The laminate we went with was a 12mm with an attached pad. We purchased an additional pad to try and remove the hollow sound that laminates can have. However, after finishing the formal, we decided we didn’t like it. The floor felt springy and unnatural. We returned the rest of the pad and went forward using just a moisture barrier.

Measuring

Measuring

The first- and most important- step for wood/laminate flooring is measuring. You want to make sure to end with a wide enough plank to be able to take the stresses of expansion and contraction (check manufacturers recommendations). This is easier said than done when dealing with a room with as many contours as our kitchen and family room. In the end, we were off. And I just pray this doesn’t cause us trouble down the road.

After we measured and remeasured we came up with a plan and set to work. Only the plan was stalled when the floor started to become crooked. We discovered at that point that our starting wall was not straight. We cut the first row of boards at a slight angle to solve this problem and then we really started to fly.

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We got this saw on Craigslist for $100- great investment that saved us a ton on installation.

We got this saw on Craigslist for $100- great investment that saved us a ton of money on installation.

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Finished family room

Finished family room

Finished kitchen

Finished kitchen

The most important lesson I learned from this project is that proper measurements cannot be stressed The most important lesson I learned from this project is that proper measurements cannot be stressed enough. As it got late and we got tired we started getting sloppy and just assumed that baseboards would hide our mistakes. Well, we were wrong, and it wasn’t until everything was in and we went back to do the baseboards did we realize this. Yes, your edges don’t have to be perfect, but don’t forget that baseboards are only a quarter inch thick. They won’t hide much, so measure and measure again and do what ever you can to make sure your cuts are correct because it will cause you move trouble later on if they aren’t. To check if something will be covered by a baseboard, carry a piece of old board with you and place it up against the wall. If there is any gap, cut again. It is worth it in the long run.

New tile floor

Style in the mid 90s was something else. Our house came with the worst 13×13 white tiles with grout turned dark by age. Originally, the house also came with awesome forest green carpet from top to bottom as well. The owner before us took care of that, replacing it with neutral carpet and really cheap laminate.

We wanted to tear it all out from day one, but we had to wait until we could get the money, and until we knew what we wanted. This winter we figured it out, and taking advantage of end of year sales, we sprung and got about 1,000 feet of dark wood laminate and 18×18 porcelain tile.

The laminate we knew we could do ourselves, but I didn’t want to attempt the tile. We wanted a diamond pattern and I wasn’t about to attempt that as my first floor tile job. We got a recommendation for a guy and agreed to do the demo to save money.

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Before: the laminate came through the entry way with white tile in the foyer, laundry room and bathroom.

Step one was demo. We borrowed a hammer drill from my cousin which made removing the tile a lot easier.

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Once we started tearing up the laminate, it became very obviously how poorly it had been installed.

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When we tore the laminate up we realized that the forest green carpet went all the way to the white tile. Yuck! When did this ever look good?

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Once the tile and laminate was up, Gilbert the tile guy got started.ImageImageImage

 

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2012 in review

Exactly a year ago today Aren and I moved into our new home. After sharing in some fireworks with our new neighbors, we collapsed on our guest bed (the only assembled furniture at the time) and fell asleep- sore and very, very tired. We’ve learned a lot, accomplished a lot and made some wonderful memories over the past year in our house. There’s still plenty to be done, but also a lot to be proud of. Some of the highlights include:

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#1: adopting our dog

Nazook isn’t really a house “project” but we were able to get her because we had a backyard and the room a high-energy lab mix requires. We didn’t wait long before adding a dog to our family and she’s been a wonderful addition. A lot of work, and expensive at time (she is very accident prone) but worth every penny!

 

#2: running the gas line

Hands down the best thing we’ve done to the house. I’m very grateful to Aren’s dad for lending his expertise to this project, and for my grandparents for buying us our beautiful range, which we use every day.

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#3: kitchen remodel

This project isn’t completely done yet, but we’ve moved the project along. Gone is the laminated finish on the cabinets, the gold pulls, yellow paint, “exotic rooster” border, cheap faucet and white appliances. In is new paint, new pulls, new stainless steal appliances and a beautiful glass and marble backsplash. Next up: floors 🙂

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#4 refinished banister

I couldn’t be happier with this results of this project. The dark espresso rail and trim and white baulisters completely updated our entry way

#5 paint, paint and more paint

Between the sage green entry, bubble-gum pink bedroom and the bathroom with the faux painted stone, we definitely had a lot of painting to do. We’re down to the final stretch now with only the den, spare room and loft area left to paint.

2013 will bring a lot of other projects as well. Here’s a teaser for the first one for the new year.

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