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Archive for the ‘house and home’ Category

christmas decor

I haven’t been this excited about Christmas in ages. I am hosting my family this year, which gave me the perfect excuse to deck the halls of my new house. Turns out, I didn’t have the greatest collection of Christmas decorations, so I decided to seek out some “new” stuff. Most of the decorations are vintage or handmade, and most came from Etsy sellers. Click on the photos below if you’re curious.

Click here to see the full set on Flickr.

Just 4 more days until my little house is full of 2 sisters, 2 parents, 1 brother-in-law, 1 nephew, 1 Nana, 1 aunt, 1 uncle, 2 turtle-doves, and a partridge in a pear tree. I’ve got presents to finish and wrap, guest rooms to prepare, and grocery shopping to do, but my main goal this week is to make this.

Merry Christmas!

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I love handmade Christmas decorations, but I hardly had any that were made by my own hands…until now…

I think I meant to make this felted garland last year…but I never got around to it. (That’s a familiar tune around here this time of year.)  It was not *quite* as quick and easy as I had hoped, but that’s probably due, in part, to my perfectionism rearing it’s ugly head halfway through this thing. That’s not to say that it was difficult, by any means. I just added some extra steps.

I used about 1.5 oz. wool roving in several colors, and got about 48 balls out of it. I needed two pairs of stockings to tie up the roving, and used the washing machine technique for felting. The problem was that wherever the stocking gathered between knots, it created a crease in the felted ball. I wound up with 48 little brightly colored…fannies (which you can sort of see in the bowl in the photo below). Ahem. So I hauled my fanny to the craft store and bought some needle felting tools. I’d only tried needle felting once, at a sheep and wool festival, but that little demo provided me with all the knowledge I needed for this project i.e., stabstabstabstabstabstabstab…

I arranged the various felted balls in a perfectly random pattern (I know, I have a problem), and used a natural, twine-colored worsted weight yarn to string them.

I love the handmade touch they add to my mantle.  

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The dining room has been in progress for a long time. This was the only room that underwent some reconstruction. I had to rely on Dear Old Dad to be the project manager, and I paid him in food and beer and hugs. Because that’s all I’ve got. Project #1 was removing two windows and installing a sliding glass door, and Project #2 was building wainscoting around the room.

I could bore you with the details of wallpaper removal, sliding glass door selection, and wainscoting design, but I’d rather forget most of that and take a visual trip down memory lane, instead…

The Before

pink. and very wallpapered.

gold "candle" wall sconces and hideous ceiling fan.

that's the kitchen through the doorway, it looks VERY different, now too!

The During

wallpaper gone. ceiling fan replaced with Ikea light fixture.

one afternoon i came home to find my dad ripping the siding off my house---surprise!

temporary wall to hold my house up while most of the back wall is being removed.

installing the sliding glass door.

the beginning of the fancy wainscoting.

(Another post written during the remodel…back in August!)

The After

(More info about my stuff on my Flickr notes.)

Before I moved into my house this past July, I already knew exactly what I wanted my dining room to  look like. I just didn’t know I would love it THIS much!

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living room

There are still quite a few things for me to do on my house (and the rest of the homeowners shout “well, DUH!”), but I actually have most of the rooms arranged and decorated to my satisfaction. The bulk of the work was done over the summer…morning, noon, and night…and I’m quite happy in my little nest. 

Here’s a “before” photo of my living room…

And the “after”…

I really didn’t do much except arrange (and rearrange…and rearrange…) my furniture and tchotchkes. I kept the taupey wall color, but I did paint the trim white to match the rest of the house. For some reason it was painted the color of gumwood. Which is definitely not the same as gumwood. At all. I incorporated a few vintage finds I’d collected from various garage sales and junk shops and Etsy sellers…

There’s a little nook on the other side of the room near the staircase…

My favorite part of the room is definitely the fireplace. It’s a gas insert, which I thought was incredibly cheeseball at first,  but as it turns out, I got used to that modern convenience right quick. Go figure. Now that the weather has cooled off, I’m SO enjoying knitting by the fire. 🙂

More pics on Flickr.

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dining room progress…

The house is starting to come together. Some rooms are nearly finished, just waiting for a few tweaks here and there. The dining room, however, still needs more than just a little tweaking, but I couldn’t wait any longer to start getting it into shape. I just couldn’t look at this anymore:

Now, I look at this:

That unfinished wall is waiting for a sliding glass door which will lead to the back yard. But the light fixture has been changed, the furniture is arranged, and I couldn’t help putting some color on the other walls…

That particular soft aqua hue wasn’t easy to find. It’s Araucana Blue by Matha Stewart, in Behr paint. The bottom half is just primed. The other big project in this room will be to create wainscoting on the bottom half of the wall. But for now, even the white primer is better than that pink paint!

I still have to hang artwork, shelves, and curtains, but I’m happy with the way it’s turning out!

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the “before”

In a previous post, I mentioned that I had purchased a house. Since then, I have closed, moved in, and started tearing the place apart…which is why it’s been so long since I blogged. It’s not that the house necessarily needs a lot of renovating…you know, if you’re into pink and flowered and striped wallpaper. Which I am not. For me, the best thing about owning a home is not the investment or the rite of passage or the not sharing walls with strangers. Although all those things are great, what I’m looking forward to most is creating a home that’s a reflection of myself.

Funny how you can fall in love with a place, knowing that you want to change nearly everything about it.

I started this process pretty much the day after I moved in.  I’ve changed light fixtures, arranged furniture, ripped down wallpaper and painted and painted and painted. Some rooms are coming along nicely, but none if them are quite finished enough for me to show “after” photos just yet.  So here are a few “before” pics of my new nest…

staircase

staircase

living room

living room

dining room

dining room

kitchen

kitchen

bedroom

bedroom

“After” photos are not far behind…I hope…

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I think I have the upholstery bug…if there is such a thing. I have no desire to tackle anything major, like my sister’s sofa (ahem), but a super duper easy footstool makeover is right up my alley! It took all of about 45 minutes to turn this:

Into this:

The fabric is Amy Butler Midwest Modern 2 – Ivory. And I left the original fabric underneath. Because I am still a chicken.

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Another project for the new house…nothing major; just a little fabric and thread. I embroidered a simplified illustration of the front of my new house. I was thinking of doing something more complex, maybe some kind of crewel design, but my crewel book has already been packed.  🙂

My embroidery skills are a little weak, and the finished piece is a little wonky, but I’m very pleased with the overall look of the simple backstitch outlines and the lovely little French knot blossoms on the tree.

I don’t actually know what kind of tree that is, but it’s one of those that fills with gorgeous flowers for about ONE DAY…and then they all fall off. It just so happens that the tree was in full bloom the day I first saw the house. So in my mind, I will always picture the house with that beautiful flowering tree in the front yard.

For some added kitsch, I did have “home sweet home” embroidered underneath the house, but when I finished, it was pretty much unreadable. (See: wonky embroidery skills.) So I took it out. I think this piece will wind up hanging in the foyer.

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I found this orange vinyl chair at Goodwill a couple years ago. It’s in great shape, it has nice modern lines, and it’s actually pretty comfortable! So I convinced myself that the orange vinyl was groovy and lived with it in my apartment for a while and rather enjoyed this weird little piece of furniture. Now that I’m moving, I have a whole new idea of what I want my home to look like…and it does not include orange vinyl. (Aqua Naugahyde? Perhaps…) Now, I watch more HGTV than any person really ought, but it still took me longer than it should have to realize that reupholstering the chair was the perfect solution for my limited furniture budget! After a few e-mails back and forth with my sewing guru, some ordering and returning of mislabeled fabric with an online fabric store, several trips to good old Jo-Ann’s, and finally working up the courage to just go for it, I have a new chair! It should be noted that I really have no idea what I’m doing, but here’s a little peek at my process:

disassembling the chair.

disassembling the chair.

 

sewed a strip of fabric that fit tightly around the bottom cushion.

sewed a strip of fabric that fit tightly around the bottom cushion.

 

tightly pinned the lid on the bottom cushion.

tightly pinned the "lid" on the bottom cushion.

 

the cover for the back cushion, all sewn up for a snug fit!

the cover for the back cushion, all sewn up for a snug fit!

 

my corners are bunchy. im not skilled enough to know how to make them smooth.

my corners are bunchy. i'm not skilled enough to know how to make them smooth.

 

brand new old chair!

brand new old chair!

At first, I was looking for a fabulous fabric to use, but finally decided to use a plain canvas, since I was pretty sure I was going to mess the whole thing up. And I know all the cool kids would tell me to remove the vinyl and use it as a pattern, but I wasn’t about to take that chance, either. If I botched the reupholstery, I at least wanted my orange chair to remain intact!  Turns out, the chair looks really great. Mass-produced, even! I don’t want to say it was easy…but it kind of was. Being my first attempt at upholstery, I’m not sure if it was easier because the entire chair came apart, or because of the shape of the cushions, or what, but I am completely proud of myself and SO excited about finding the perfect pillow to accessorize my “new” vintage chair!

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So I bought a house. And while that is all very fantastic and exciting, things are a little chaotic right now. Which means that in order to keep my sanity, I have to slow things down a bit with the Small Bird shop—just for now.  Most items (necklaces, bracelets, and earrings) will still be readily available. If they’re in the shop, they’re ready to ship! However, rings will not be available for about a month. Every ring is made to size after you place your order, and I want to make sure that I take the proper time and care with creating each and every ring.  Right now, my schedule and workspace simply won’t allow it.  All rings have been marked “Coming Soon” and should be available again by mid-July. Items that are currently sold out will take about a month to restock, as well.  I do apologize for any inconvenience, and look forward to making more jewelry in a bigger, better, more functional studio space very, very soon!

If you desperately need a ring fix, there are still several rings (of specific size, only) on sale and ready to ship at the Small Bird Outlet! Yes, it’s the old Etsy shop.  But “outlet” sounds cooler. If you needed a gift for someone, Small Bird gift certificates are always available through PayPal. Just click the gift certificate button in the sidebar of the shop!

In the meantime, I’m trying to make someone else’s old house into my new home…DIY-style.  🙂 House projects both large and small are already in the works. My next challenge is finding the time to blog about them!

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