Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Koi Table

OK, I need some help. Your opinion please. Is this just the coolest koi table? Or is it weird and ugly? I think it's a fantastic Hollywood Regency table. And it's super cheap at $40 and has a 36" glass top. It would definitely make a statement in my living room. My family would think I'm nuts. I'm OK with that from time to time. Usually if I'm unsure it means I shouldn't purchase it. But it's really cool looking. What do you think?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Drapes & Dressers

I finally got around to making a few changes to the living room.

I've been wanting to move my Dorothy Draper Espana Bunching Chests (totally a knock-off but look exactly like the famous ones) from my bedroom to the living room and replace the Mid-Century Modern credenza (actually a bedroom dresser minus the mirror). The chests need to be refinished. They look OK in pictures but the black finish is pretty scratched and cloudy in places. I will probably tackle it this winter. If you remember when I painted a long ago blue dresser for the same spot I have to paint in my condo as I have no other location to spread out. It's definitely a challenge. In the mean time I plan to go over the scratches with a black sharpie so it doesn't drive me nuts for the next couple of months. I still need to style the top of the dressers and find a place for my owl umbrella holders with peacock feathers in it. The chests are much larger than the credenza that was there. The chests were totally a steal for $35 for THE PAIR with $25 delivery to my door. Gotta love Craig's List.

I also finally got around to hanging drapes. I think I've had these drapes for 18 months or so. I purchased them on eBay for about $100. They are a wonderful floral of turquoise, vivid green and royal blue on an ivory background. They are vintage and so pretty.

I have this fear of measuring incorrectly and putting unnecessary holes in my plaster walls. I also fear drilling into my 60 year old plaster walls and having chunks fall down upon me (although that has never happened to anyone in my building). I really like how they turned out. They really make the room feel complete. Now that they are hanging and not folded up in a closet I realize they have a bit of a musty smell. Hopefully that dissipates or I'll have to have them dry cleaned - which wouldn't be a bad thing because they are kind of wrinkled and I hate to iron. Besides they have a weird plastic like coating on the back. Not sure how that would work with ironing or even dry cleaning. I'm going to let them hang for a little while and see if the wrinkles fall out. And yes, they are hung a few inches above the floor. It might be dorky looking but I can't have them blocking the heat from the radiator as it is the only one in the room. Also my dog Sebastian lays right there and I don't want the bottom to get all dirty from his fur. Practical won out over good design.

In other news, I have new fuchsia pillows on the couch.

I'm still looking for some upholstery fabric for the chair on the other side of the room. I purchased a micro-stripe tweedy fabric from eBay a while ago in the same green as the other chair with bits of black, white and turquoise in it. It's draped over the cushions in the picture below. It's pretty fabric and would be a good neutral in the room. It's just kind of blah looking. I think I want a WOW fabric. Possibly in fuchsia! The hunt continues. (That blue lamp has since moved into the dining room on the bar cabinet with a white ginger jar lamp replacing it.)

I'm also thinking of replacing the tables in the room. All the tables and chairs are very leggy with all exposed spindle legs. The black dressers really help the look of the room since they go down to the floor. I've started looking for tables next to the chairs. Maybe something glass. But it needs to be small scale. I'm still thinking of a ceramic elephant stool next to the green chair and ottoman. There is currently a very cheap one for sale on Craig's List but is far away and I'm not sure I feel like driving into downtown Chicago to go get it. We'll see if its still for sale Saturday when I will be closer to where it is located.

I've also started looking at sofas. I've been saving to replace my IKEA Klippan sofa. It was purchased hurriedly (from Craig's List for $35) when my leather Room and Board couch wouldn't fit up the stairs when I moved in. I like its shape. I just wish it was longer and the cushions didn't sag as you sit. You kind of get the Homer Simpson butt divot effect. I think I want something with a chaise. I've got to measure to see how it will fit in the room. It's hard to find a sofa with a chaise that comes in pieces so it will fit up my stairs and looks modern. Everything I find is so over stuffed. I need an apartment sized sofa, small scale. Oh and it can't cost a fortune and needs to have good upholstery options. I'm actually considering this one from IKEA but worry that it will not last long and that the cushions will sag. I do like that the cover can be removed and washed and comes in pieces so it will for sure fit up my crazy narrow, short stairs. I'm also considering this one from Room and Board. It's definitely more of the Hollywood Regency look instead of the Mid-Century Modern look which is OK with me. I wouldn't have to worry about it lasting. And for $35 they will come out and measure to ensure that the sofa would fit up the stairs which would be money well spent since the sofa would be custom with the fabric option I want. However I do like to sit with my feet up. Decisions. Luckily it will probably be after Christmas before I purchase anything so I have time to think. I want to get the chair upholstered first since its kind of ugly in its current state.

As you have probably guessed I've dropped out of the 31 Days of blogging series. Blogging every day is hard work! I had the posts planned out and even managed to get several done ahead of time in September and have them scheduled and still didn't make it very far. Oh well.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I'm behind on my 31 Days of Updates Around the Condo series and hope to play catch up over the next few days!

As long as things go as planned I'll have updates posted by Monday.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 13 - Another New Futon Cover

Remember back on Day 2 of my 31 Days of Updates Around the Condo when I showed you a new black futon cover for my Son's bedroom? Well I didn't like the way it fit. See the wrinkles? It was too big (even though I ordered the correct size) and the fabric was too thin. You could see/feel the dimples on the futon from the stitching which I didn't like. The reviews of the cover were mixed. I don't know why I thought mine would be OK. Silly of me. I wasted $12 in shipping and return shipping costs. Anyway I returned it and purchased another one.

The new one had great reviews on Overstock.com. It also came in more colors. I thought a gray color would be nice rather than black. I have a light haired cat who likes to hang out in the room. Her hair always showed up and required a lot of vacuuming to look nice. I decided that the gray would be a better solution. I'm still not sure I like it. I have a lot of black in the room. I instinctively want everything to match although when I think about it I know that some of the decorated rooms I like best have no matching in them. Yes things will coordinate but it doesn't have to be the same. I think as I pull together the rest of the room the gray will be fine. Besides I'm not returning this cover so I'll have to make it work!

Day 12 - Blue and White Pottery

I've been cleaning out some extra stuff around the house and making small trips to the Salvation Army to donate. While there I feel obligated to stop in and see if there is anything that has to come home with me. Well I've lucked out and found a piece of blue and white oriental pottery each time I'm at the store. I don't know how that it is possible but it's been once a week or every other week for almost 2 months and I find a piece of blue and white pottery. Usually I purchase said pottery. Each piece has only $2 or $3 dollars. I now have a nice collection in my office, otherwise know as my son's bedroom when he is home from college. I've rearranged the shelves to display my new collection. I like how it looks.

Day 11 - Desk Accessories

I updated my desk accessories. I used to use a silverware holder from Ikea. It worked fine but was a little boring.

I upgraded to this.

It's an antique glass ice bucket with silver handle. I've had this tucked away in my china cabinet for a year or so. I really like having it out where it is used every day. Next to it I have a little blue and white pottery dish I picked up at the Salvation Army. It's perfect for holding spare change, rubber bands and clips. I already had the blue vase. I really love the gradation of color of the vase. I have plans to make some coffee filter roses to go in the tall vase sometime soon. This little change makes me smile.

This post is part of my series of 31 Days of Updates Around the Condo.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 10 - Update to the Doors

This update to the condo was boring but necessary. With all the heat this summer my 60 year old building did some major settling. It caused several cracks in my plaster and my back door, bathroom door and bedroom door would no longer open and close without sticking.

I purchased a wood file/rasp from Home Depot and tried to file away the door tops so they would close properly again. Well that was the wrong tool. It chipped away at the wood veneer instead of smoothly taking off the wood. And it wouldn't take off enough wood for the doors to close.

Then I purchased a wood plane. I've never used one before. I assumed it would have directions or pictures on how to set the blade. Nope. Nothing. So I fiddled with it and got the blade adjusted (didn't know if it was correct) and used it. It smoothly took off shavings of the top and then side of the door. It worked quickly and didn't crack the veneer. Soon I had the doors done and the floor vacuumed up.

Then the back door lock was sticking. You would have to push and wiggle the key to get the lock open. On my 2nd trip to Home Depot I purchased two new locks so I could replace the front and back door lock. (The front door lock worked fine. I just wanted the two locks to use the same key.) It was a little challenging to get the screws to line up properly but easy enough to change out the locks.

So that is today's updates. Doors that close properly and locks that work. Boring but necessary.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Elephant Table - Need Your Help

I need your help. I found the above elephant wicker table for sale. It's not cheap at $99. I'm really drawn to it. I would put it in my living room and possibly paint it a sunny yellow. What do you think? Too cutesy?

Emily Henderson used one in her Lake House redo. Check out her post here. In her room I like it. I'm just not so sure about it in my mid century modern moving toward a Hollywood Regency or Chinoiserie look.

Here is another elephant table. This one isn't wicker.

Here they used two together and made a cocktail table.

Yesterday I missed out on purchasing a large brass elephant from Craigs List for $75 similar to the one below.

So I'm pretty sure I want a large elephant in the living room. The big brass elephant on the table that I missed out on would have been ideal.

I also want a yellow side table. The garden stool is about the perfect size and color. I also missed out on one of these on Craigs List this week for $35.

So what if I purchase the wicker elephant and spray him yellow? Is it the wicker that I'm having a hard time with - is it too casual? A yellow elephant? Both? Maybe I get a white ceramic elephant table and just use a yellow throw pillow? Get the yellow garden stool and bring in an elephant some other way?

Anyone else have terrible luck on Craigs List lately?

Day 9 - New Lamp

This is a picture of my dresser in my bedroom the way it started out. I'm slowly working on updating my room. The lamp is something I found at a resale shop. I don't remember what I paid for it but I'm cheap so it was probably under $10. I purchased the lampshade at Target. The lamp used to live in my living room. Then I moved it to my son's room, then the dining room and finally in here. I like its Mid-Century Modern look however I'm moving in a more Hollywood Regency style for my bedroom and it has to go. I'll try to sell it on Craigs List.

The dresser and painting are not tilted. I just take bad pictures.
I found this lamp on sale at the Salvation Army for $3.99. I loved its feminine shape and pretty crystal look. It seems very romantic to me. I purchased the lamp shade at Target on clearance for $4.48. I had to go to a couple Targets to find a lampshade. Maybe they are phasing out carrying them? The selection was really poor, but I'm happy with what I found. The tall skinny shade is very different looking. It's a nice contrast against the other lights in the room. I added a low wattage blub for some mood lighting in the bedroom.

So for under $10.00 I have a new, more feminine lamp with a modern shade in my bedroom. I'm trying to sell the old lamp for $35 on Craigs List so I just might turn a profit on this update!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 8 - More New Chairs

I bought some new chairs. They were $35 on Craigs List (for the pair!). They are a great pair of bamboo Chippendale, Hollywood Regency chairs. I had plans to paint them a glossy black and use them at the head and foot of my dining room table. Wouldn't that be nice? Unfortunately they are a bit narrow and my fat behind doesn't fit comfortably into the chairs. Womp womp. So I'm selling them on eBay for hopefully a nice profit.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 7 - Leaky kitchen sink

My very busy brother stopped by today to fix my leaking cold water supply pipe. When the plumber was out clearing the clogged drain he mentioned that I have a slow leak. Well I don't want the water to accumulate and damage my downstairs neighbor ceiling. It was kind of urgent to fix the leak.

Well my brother came over to look at what the issue was. He agreed with the plumber that it should be an easy fix. After he turned off the water supply, he unscrewed the flexible pipe for the cold water. It was a little messy as the water in the pipe went all over the bottom of my cabinet as it was unscrewed. I had towels waiting to mop things up so it wasn't too bad.

Tim, my brother, took the existing leaking piece with him when he went to the hardware store. Smart thinking. That way he's sure to get the right replacement piece. Just match them up.

When he returned he screwed the new flexible pipe in place and slowly turned on the water. It leaked a little bit. He again tightened the nut(?) holding the pipe in place. No leaks! Yeah! It really was a quick fix. I still didn't have the right adjustable wrenches needed to turn off the water or unscrew the flexible pipe. Good thing he had the tools and the time. Isn't it so nice when family helps you out? Hopefully this is the last of my plumbing issues for a long time.

Now to put all the cleaning supplies and misc. stuff back under the sink. That little space is just packed full. Currently its all over my dining room table. Ugh.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Day 6 - Switch Covers

Did you ever do something and years later wonder what you were thinking? Back in Janurary 2010 (see the original post here) I thought it would be fun to replace some switch covers with a clear one with scrapbook paper inside. They didn't look bad, I guess. Over the last couple years I've changed my decorating style to something more sophisticated. The crafty looking covers didn't go anymore.

I went shopping at Home Depot for some new covers. I was surprised by the narrow selection. They had a couple nice black ones but I didn't know how they would look. I thought I wanted white, but they only had white plastic covers.  I settled on some brass covers with a nickel finish. 

I like the way they look. One thing I didn't think about was finger prints. These show finger prints so I will be constantly wiping them off. I know this is a small change, but sometimes the details can make or break a room.

I can't wait to paint the trim a fresh coat of white! I'm not sure when it was last painted, but I've lived here 5 years. Even after washing, they are pretty grungy looking. Trim painting is my January project.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 5 - Bedroom light

I'm in the process of redoing my bedroom. I purchased these great lamps at the Salvation Army for $7.99 for the pair. I love the tall ginger jar shape and the chevron lampshades. I purchased the lampshades on clearance at Target many months ago and have been keeping them safe for the bedroom. I plan on spray painting the lamps a raspberry color and trying to tape off the gold base so that stays. (I'm still deciding on what pictures to put in my vintage gold frames. I also have plans to paint the walls pale pink, paint the doors black, refinish the black Dorthy Draper Espana chests, purchase a new duvet cover, and make an upholstered headboard in a black chinoiserie fabric.)

(Like how my cat, Starbuck, photo bombed the picture?) Anyway the lamps are tall and towards the middle of the tall dressers on each side of my bed. It is not easy to turn the light on or off. I have to sit all the way up, scooch over to the side of the bed, lean all the way over and fumble for the light switch. All the while usuallly in the dark without my glasses and I don't see well without my glasses. I had a touch lamp adapter do-hicky. You plug your lamp into it and then plug it into the wall. It turns any metal lamp into a touch lamp. You just touch anywhere on the lamp to turn it on and then touch again to turn it off. It worked great. I just slapped my hand around in the dark until it landed on the lamp and voila light! It did however, have a major draw back. The lamp would turn itself on and off randomly. For no apparent reason. Then one night after a nightmare I wake up and the lamp is rapidly turning itself on and off. I was still in the throes of my nightmare about demonic possession and the lamp flickering on and off totally freaked me out. After that I immediately removed the lightbulb and the touch light adapter. But I still wanted something with a similar function.

Enter my new best friend. It's a touch dimmer for the lamp that I found at Home Depot for $10. It is set up the same way - I plug the lamp into it and plug it into the wall. However it has a little disk on a cord that you can put anywhere. Tap the disk once to turn on the lamp to a nightlight level, again for a medium light and a third time for bright light. Tap the 4th time and it turns off the light. You don't need a 3 way light blub, the lamp does all the work. So far I've had no unexpected lights on or off. The little disk has a backing on it so it doesn't slide around. I've got it right at the edge of my dresser and its illuminated by the glow of my alarm clock. It works great. And I'm a happy camper. I threw the old touch light adapter away. I don't need my inanimate objects scaring me!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 4 - New Chair

Many years ago I received some mid-century modern furniture from a friends parents for the princely sum of $40 plus an oak dining room table (which I bought at Goodwill). I got a teak rocking chair, a teak chair and ottoman, and a teak coffee table and two matching end tables. They lived in the basement of my old  house for several years. In my current house the other pieces are in my living room. Several years ago I found out that the furniture is iconic danish modern furniture from the late 1950's by famous designers and worth some money. What a happy surprise!

The rocking chair has been in my bedroom. I had intentions to upholster it in a fun stripe when my bedroom plans included some bright colors. I've changed direction and the chair doesn't really fit with the look I want. I plan on selling the chair on eBay. I just have to figure out how to ship it. It will go a long way to funding my other decorating plans.

My new chair is a Century Mandarin chair in he style of James Monte. I absolutely love it. It's wide and low to the ground, so comfy. It was a Craigs List bargain for $10. It has some finish issues and needs to be reupholstered but those are easy fixes. It was fun trying to maneuver the chair into my small Saturn car. I had to put it in the passenger seat with a leg over the gear shift and the top leg hitting my rear view mirror and my son crammed in the back seat. Luckily I didn't have far to drive home. I recently saw the same exact chair on eBay for $650. I'm pretty happy with my $10 chair!

When I find fabric I want to upholster the chair with I'll be sure to post pictures! (And that is a cat bed and toys to the side and behind the chairs. I should have taken them out of the pictures. Oops.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 3 - New Mirror

I'm slowly updating my master bedroom. This time I'm tackling the art work. I got this canvas for free at an estate sale. It was the last day, they hadn't sold them and were looking to just get rid of them. I took home about 5 large canvases. I planned to repaint most of them. I like the painting on this one and it lived in my bedroom for around a year. With the update I'm moving to a pink, white, black, gold color scheme with a very feminine look, so this has got to go. I'm not sure what I'll do with it. Maybe try to sell it on Craigs List as I think it's pretty and has nice color to it. (For some reason I can't take a straight picture. Maybe I'm lopsided? Anyway the picture and the dresser are not tilted. It's just my crappy photography skills.)

I purchased this mirror from Home Depot. It's a Martha Stewart brand and was $35. I think it has a lot of bang for the buck. I love the regency look to it. And its more delicate and feminine looking which fits right in with what I'm working on creating. I'm very pleased with it. It's very light weight but took a little bit to hang because the mirror curves outward so I needed an extra long screw to make it to the hanger on the back.

You might also notice a new lamp base and a pretty pot. More items I'm working on and will talk about in more detail later.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 2 - New Futon Cover

My son's room has a futon in it. When he's home from college its usually open so he can sleep on it. When he's not home I have it folded up and use his room as an office/sewing room/crafting area/storage space. He is away at college more than he is at home. The futon cover is a few years old. It looked OK when his walls were off-white but I never really loved it. I should have returned it right after I received it but it seemed easier to just put up with it. Last year we painted his room this lovely avocado/pea green and the cover now looks like baby poop. It looks tan in this picture. It's not. It's a shade of greenish/brown that clashes with the wall color and makes it look distgusting.

I ordered a new black cover and think it looks so much better.

I have plans to make some pillows and paint the white canvas hanging on the wall. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 1 - Kitchen Sink

My project for Day 1 of my series of 31 Days of Projects Around the House is not a project I anticipated working on. My kitchen sink is stopped up. Well actually it started out just draining slowly.

I thought I would be smart and use some Liquid Plumber Pipe Snake chemicals. It is supposed to foam up and remove the gunk from the sides of the plumbing pipe so that the water flows again. I purchased some at the grocery store. I followed the directions used it, let it sit for 15 minutes and ran some hot water to flush it through. It didn't flush through. It stopped. I now had a sink full of water. I was frustrated and it was late so I let it sit over night. The water drained! Great I thought. I ran water and it quickly became apparent that the sink was still stopped up.

So I got the plunger out and gave it a go. I plunged mightily for 20 minutes with no luck. I did however pull up all kind of nasty gunk from the pipe. It filled the water in the sink with its crude. It was gross. I let it sit over night again. (As you can probably tell I did NOT want to call a plumber out. Well I did want to call a plumber out I just didn't want to pay the $150 to do so). I was also working and having other commitments during this time frame. Not just sitting around the house avoiding my plumbing issue.

So the 3 day I thought I'd get some more liquid plumber chemicals. This time the version for water standing in the sink with a clog. It was supposed to "power through the toughest clog". I dumped in a 1/2 bottle and left it to work. I check on it in 15 minutes. No movement. I'll give it more time I thought. I checked back in 1 hour. No movement. Darn it. Now I have a sink full of caustic chemicals and water.

I left it again and called a friend to borrow her plumbing snake thingy. She suggests that I remove as much of the water/chemical mix from the sink. And she mentions in passing that the chemical might be eating away at the enamel of my sink. Great. So I use a little cup and scoop out as much of the water/chemical mixture that I can trying not to splash any on me because it will cause a chemical burn. At this point I’m not sure what to do with this water. If I dump it down the bathtub drain won’t I loosen all the gross gunk on that pipe and cause it to clog? I slowly dump it down the drain and run LOTS of water with it. And it doesn’t clog the bathtub drain. Yeah!

I wait another night for her to deliver the do-hickey the next day. I also go out and purchase a pair of gloves that you can use around caustic chemicals. So on the 4th day I get the snake/auger/thingy-ma-bob and fish it down the drain. And work it, and work it and work it. It doesn't go down into the p-trap where the clog probably originated. I try the other drain. And work it and work it and work it. Nothing. I can't get it. It doesn’t work.

I call my brother and get his advice. He says to remove the p-trap, clear the clog or use the snake/auger/thingy into the pipe after the trap is removed. I’m not really clear on how to take the plumbing apart and more importantly put it back together when I’m done. He volunteers to come over and help. The next day.

On day 5 my brother comes over. He takes apart the p-trap and uses the auger on the pipe. And works it and works it and works it. He puts the p-trap back together, runs some water and .... nothing. It fills the sink with water. The clog is still there. He then takes the plunger and puts a rag in one of the drains and plunges mightily. The clog is still there. He again takes the pipes apart and tries the auger on the pipe after the trap puts the pipes back together and runs the water. Still clogged. After 90 minutes we give up.

Can you feel my frustration? I need to call the plumber. However I have work and other commitments morning, noon and night for the next several days and wouldn’t even be able to be home for a plumber to come out. Well not if I don’t want to pay extra for after hours service … which I most certainly do not.

Well anyway I stay home from work on the 6th day without a functioning kitchen sink and call the plumber out. A few hours later he arrives and begins to work on the clog. He uses an electrical auger/snake/thingy on the pipe after the p-trap. And works it and works it and works it. He, however, is successful! Hooray! My sink works. No more clog! Now to give the sink a deep cleaning to remove all the gunk and crud.

The plumber gives me some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the clog was in the wall and as such the condo association is responsible for the bill (which is probably close to $300 since the plumber was here for over an hour).

The bad news is that the plumber tells me I have a slow leak on my water supply line. He said he would fix it for free but doesn’t have the needed part on his truck. So now I have to try to convince my very busy brother to come back over and replace my supply line. It should be an easy fix. Turn the water off. Unscrew the flexible pipe in two places, screw a new one on. 

I do lots of home improvement projects. I hang things on my plaster walls, paint, replace light fixtures, hang ceiling fans, replace all my outlets, etc. However I am not comfortable with plumbing issues. It could be because years ago I tried to replace the stem/flapper on a toilet and had water shooting out of it, hitting the ceiling and raining down upon me. I couldn’t figure out what was happening, turned the whole house water supply off and called out a plumber to fix my little diy. I haven’t been comfortable with plumbing since!

31 Days of Updates Around the Condo

I'm participating in the Nesters challenge to write on the same topic for 31 Days during October. I've chosen to write about updates around my Condo. Check back here for all the days link!

1. Kitchen Sink
2. New Futon Cover
3. New Mirror
4. New Chair
5. Bedroom Light
6. Switch Covers
7. Leaky Kitchen Sink
8. More New Chairs
9. New Lamp
10. Updates to the Doors
11. Desk Accessories
12. Blue and White Pottery
13. Gray Futon Cover