Friday, May 31, 2013

Moar little updates

Lest you think it's been all office, all the time around here, here are three more little updates we've completed over the past few weeks.

1) Hung a new shower curtain in the bathroom.

During our search for office curtains (before we decided to make them ourselves), we noticed this shower curtain at Target (here it is in green--I don't see the blue one online), which was just perfect for our bathroom. We had given up hope because we had fallen in love with this Thomas Paul Octapus one, but at $120 that just wasn't in the budget. At around $15, this was much more budget-friendly and still makes a great graphic statement.

2) Finished hanging art in the bathroom.

I hung that DIY thrift store spray painted ship's wheel a few weeks ago, but I knew the mini gallery wall needed one little tiny piece of art so I grabbed a $1 frame from IKEA and had this photo of Chester printed at the camera store for another $1. So for $2, every day we get to be reminded of how miserable Chester was every time we put him in his Spokespuggle hat.

You so do not pay me enough for this.

Doug pointed out that most people hang up pictures of their dogs looking happy and cute. Not us. No. We hang up a picture of our dog giving us the evil eye.

3) Finished painting and rehung the kitchen shelves.

Yes, so this was on our last list of little updates too, but since I was only half-way done when that post went up, here is proof that I really did do it. Can I just say that if someone wants to give me a gift any time soon, I could really use a stubby little short screwdriver? Maybe one of each: Phillips and flat head? Cuz, yeah, that was a pain in the you know where with my Leatherman.

Here's the basil I haven't killed. Yet.

These shelves now also showcase my new-ish collection of Zaneville Stoneage Modern pottery. They made these circa the 1960s. I got the first one and put it in my Etsy store, only to pull it when I found the second one. And now there are three, which in my mind makes it a real collection. Let's hope for some BIG ones soon!

And lest you think our dog hates us, here he is eating doggie frozen yogurt.

"Please say, 'Okay'! Please, please, please!"

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lighting, lighting everywhere

I've been thinking about renaming my blog. Instead of Pies & Puggles, I've been thinking about calling it "The Unrepentant Young House Love Fangirl Blog" or TUYHLFB for short.

That's a joke.

Kind of.

In any case, y'all know how much I love me some YHL. And so when they made their product design debut earlier this year by coming out with their very own lighting collection, I knew I would be obtaining at least one of their items for my very own. Plus all the lights are made right nearby in Richmond by Shades of Light, a local Virginia company. So I'm also shopping local! Kind of.

Here's a photo from my trip to Shade of Light earlier this month. In among these shades are some of the ones John and Sherry designed, like that one with the Burger silhouettes. Cute, huh?

But that's not what I bought. What I bought was this, which I thought was pretty much of a steal at just $89.

Photo via

Just a word about the fixture itself: it came disassembled, which I wasn't expecting since that wasn't noted in the catalog or on the website. That said, it was pretty easy to put together. However, we did hire an electrician to put it up.

The main reason was that we wanted to move the electrical box to be centered over our dining table, where the original fixture was not.

It was about four inches too far toward the kitchen wall and about two feet from the center of the table. Not close. And though we are willing to replace fixtures, we are not willing to mess with moving wiring. It's good to know your limits, yes?

However, we did not want to waste the electrician's time with figuring out where to put the pendant while he just stood there so we did that the night before. That's our highly scientific system above. Yep, a roll of hem tape tied to some kitchen string. 

To figure out where to mark the ceiling, Doug took that weighted string and dangled it over the top of the table, inching it over until it was smack in the middle. Centering it with the mid-line was easy because it's an expandable table so there's a seam. But the weighted string came in handy for centering it width-wise.

Then when the electrician came, all he had to do was cut a hole, move the box, hang the fixture and patch the  hole in the ceiling where the old fixture was. 

My only regret is that I think I had him hang it just a little too high. In general, the guideline is to hang a pendant 27" to 36" above a table. This one is hung at 32" inches above. I'm hoping he left enough cord that at some point we can drop it down another two or three inches because even though I thought I wanted it well out of the way, from most angles (especially these camera angles) it just looks too high to me. 

But here's a close-up, where it looks fabulous!

And here it is from a slightly different angle with the light on.

Just in case you were wondering, the bulb doesn't come with the fixture, but it's obviously the right choice. Shades of Light sells them for about $20 so you can order one when you order the fixture, but I'd recommend that you visit your local Home Depot instead, where they can be had for $10. Exact same bulb. Exact same manufacturer. Half the price. Just choose carefully because these are fragile on the inside and several of the ones I looked at were already busted.

Finally, since I never know what things should cost and sometimes finding that information online can be difficult, we paid $400 to have this pendant and the light in the office hung. That might sound like a lot, but the contractor we use sent two guys and they were here for 4 hours. Here's all they did:
  • rewired the plug in the office so that the light switch turns on the overhead light
  • shortened the cord on the fixture we selected
  • hung the office fixture
  • removed the old dining room light
  • cut the hole for the new fixture
  • moved the electrical box
  • assembled and hung the new light
  • patched and primed the hole where the old fixture was
All told, it seemed like a fair price to me, especially since it would have taken us days of patching, sanding and priming to get that old hole patched. The next time I have to do something like that, I'm totally going to borrow a nifty heat gun like the one they had because it made the whole patching process so much faster! Like, a few minutes instead of several days. So I learned something too!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Shady business

We are skulking in shadows no more!

When I visited the Decorating Outlet earlier in the month, I had been hoping to find lighting for both the office makeover and the dining room. And while I ended up having to order the pendant for the dining room, I was able to obtain the office lighting I wanted.

I picked up the shade conversion kit for just $25 (instead of the usual $50) and the shade was dented so I got that for a bargain $5. But since the kit was discounted because the cord was short (and I would need to shorten it still further) and the shade was going to be recovered because it's more cream than white, I feel like I got a pretty awesome deal.

To remind you, this was what the office lighting looked like before:

And here is what it looks like now:

However, it took a few steps to get from here:

To here.

The first thing I did was iron the fabric (a remnant from Joann's at $2.33) and the ribbon (four yards from at $1.98 with my 10% off coupon). I didn't take a picture, but since I was using a lightweight linen fabric, ironing was a very important step if I didn't want the final product to be hopelessly wrinkled. 

I didn't measure so much as lay the fabric out flat and roll it from one end to the other starting at the seam of the original cover to get the exact length I would need (plus one inch to fold over and use as a seam). Working in much the same fashion, I cut the fabric as I rolled it to get the right height, leaving an inch or so on the top and bottom.

To test the glue, I used a scrap of fabric and a scrap of ribbon.

I had read several tutorials online that mentioned problems with the type of glue used, but the linked one there also mentioned that she was using silk ribbon and that a sturdier ribbon like grosgrain, which was what I had chosen, might have been different. So I chose to work with hot glue because I thought it would be both sturdy and easy to control, giving me time to work with the warm glue if I needed to adjust the ribbon. Nevertheless, I wanted to test it and happily, grosgrain was different. I cannot see the glue through the ribbon at all, even with the light on.

To start, I pulled the fabric around the shade, using my very favorite adhesive, Easy Tack, to temporarily secure the fabric to the shade so it would shift while I pulled the fabric tight. Knowing the hot glue would penetrate the thin linen, then I laid down a thin line of glue, adhering the pre-folded end to the side of the shade.

As a repositionable adhesive, the Easy Tack was perfect to hold the fabric in place while I rolled the shade around, but I would not have wanted to leave it as a permanent solution because I was concerned that any heat from the lightbulb might make it give way over time. Hence double-gluing with the hot glue.

With the fabric secure to the shade, I turned it so I could get to work on securing the bottom and top. The little pegs for the diffuser (which I have on order but hasn't gotten here yet) were going to be in the way of folding the fabric, but I knew I wanted to work in sections anyway so I just snipped where the pegs are on the bottom and where the cross bars are at the top.

The next step was to start gluing.

I applied the glue right along the the bottom of the shade, one section at a time, stopping after each section to press the fabric into the glue. I had to go back and apply more glue a couple of times, but for the most part it worked pretty well.

Once I gave the glue some time to set, I went back and trimmed the excess fabric. I don't really recommend this method because I found it very difficult to trim a nice straight edge even with sharp scissors. For me, it didn't much matter because I will be using a diffuser so you won't be able to see it at all once that is up, but if you're working with a regular lampshade on a regular lamp, you might want to measure only the additional half inch that you will need to secure fabric to the shade.

Next I rolled the ribbon around the shade, leaving just an additional half inch to fold under to create a nice seam.

Then I applied more hot glue about six inches at a time, about half an inch off the edge of the shade, securing the ribbon as I went.

When I reached the end, I folded over the ribbon by about a quarter inch and applied a vertical drop of hot glue to attach the end to the rest of the shade.

From there it was a simple matter of screwing the shade to the pendant kit that we had an electrician hang yesterday. It was something we normally would have been up to trying on our own, but unfortunately the only switch in the room was wired to a plug behind the bookcase and not to the overhead light. I'm told this is fairly common, but it honestly makes no sense to me. Anyway, while we are up to changing a fixture, we are not up to rewiring switches so the electrician got to do that. I'll talk about that whole thing later in the week when I get to the other electrical work we had done. Yes! There is something else! Just not in the office.

Here it is again from the other side of the room. Cool, huh? I was reasonably sure that the orange ribbon would match the orange geometric fabric we chose for the curtains because we got them from the same company and they looked the same on my screen, but to be honest, we got really lucky in how closely they really do match. 

There seems to be about a hundred ways to recover a lampshade. I just cobbled together what I thought looked easiest. This way looks like it would turn out 100 times more professional looking, but frankly since I was using the diffuser and didn't want to get my fingers that close to the hot glue, I'm happy with the way I chose. 

So have you ever recovered a lampshade?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Office Makeover: DIY No Sew Curtains

We've really been cooking on the office makover. We finished up painting the ceiling and the trim and then we put together the big bookshelf that took over for three smaller pieces. How far we've come!

Yesterday I gave a little hint about what I'd be showing today.

Drapes! Rhymes with tapes! Or curtains! Rhymes with...well...not much of anything really, which is why I had trouble coming up with a rhyme yesterday.

The point is, even though we have blinds in this room, like in all our other rooms because they are required by our HOA, adding curtains always makes a space feel a little more finished. At least in this home office makeover, it was the difference for us between, "Um...maybe we made a mistake" and "Wow, this is starting to look really great!"

But curtains can be expensive and everyone's "brilliant" tip that you can just buy them off the rack and have them hemmed at the dry cleaner? Yeah, well that's likely to run you over $150 around the DC area before you even get to hardware. Try getting stylish curtains for less than $50 a pair. And the quote I got from my dry cleaner to hem curtains was $90. Sure its a steal over custom-made, lined drapes, which can run into the thousands. And maybe it's different elsewhere, but even so that wasn't really sounding like a bargain option to me.

Besides, at only 78" off the floor, we were going to need to hem any store-bought curtains we found anyway. We fell in love with these from JC Penney's new Jonathan Adler Collection. But with the Greek key frame, we weren't going to be able to hem them to fit.

Jonathan Adler Curtains from JC Penney

Enter this very old DIY no sew curtain tutorial from Young House Love. Though they are not making curtains here. And after I watched the video, I still had a couple questions, mostly about how to cut the fabric and how to iron the corners. So even though everything most people would need is right there in that video, here's a few pictures to take you over the finish line.

The first thing I did was order fabric. The fabric stores around here don't have a great selection of modern geometrics and I knew I wanted orange. We found this fabric at (Premier Prints Shakes Slub Tangelo) for just $7.63 per yard for 4.5 yards after I found a 10% off coupon online. And per the video, I drove out to Joann's Fabrics and bought some 7/8" Ultrabond Heat n Bond Hem Tape. I ended up using about one and a half rolls so I'll have some left over for another project.

When the fabric arrived from, the first thing I did was lay it out on the floor and measure, with the fabric doubled in half. I had just a few more inches than I needed, but I didn't just want to cut off 2 inches because sometimes when they measure fabric at a store, they're not super precise. As it turned out, I had 164 inches, not 162 like I expected.

Using a pair of sewing scissors, ones I keep specifically for fabric and that never cut anything else, I cut off the extra four inches. Then I cut a few inches along the top of my fold to get me started and ripped the fabric down the grain to give me two curtains panels. I had heard that this would give me a nice straight line and it turned out that was true. I'm much better with tearing than cutting a straight line.

Once I had two panels, I ironed them both. Dimension-wise, I knew I wanted my finished curtain size to be the width of the fabric minus the 2 inches I'd need for the hem (in this case, 52") and 78" high. So I had cut the entire length of fabric by four inches and halved it for two 80" long pieces.

It's hard to iron hem tape and take pictures at the same time, but the actual hemming was actually much easier than I had feared. Because of the geometric pattern, it was simple to keep the tape lined up, even when I was working with a cut edge that wasn't always super straight.

And just like it says in the video, you lay the tape on the fabric, press with the iron and when that is bonded and cool, you pull off the tape backing, fold over the fabric and press to create your hem. Simple Simon!

The only slightly tricky bit was at the corners. First of all, I had to leave the iron on the corners a bit longer since it needed to heat and bond four layers of fabric instead of just two layers. And in a couple of cases, I guess I pulled the fabric a little too tight because I ended up with corners that didn't match up, maybe by about an eighth of an inch. I just clipped them off so they wouldn't show from the front once the curtains were hung.

We already had a $3 curtain rod and hanging hardware on hand from IKEA so we just used that to hang the curtains. Plus, we bought some curtain ring clips from Target, like YHL specifies in this post. We did end up needing a masonry bit and masonry screws to hang the rod, like we have with all the rest of our curtain rods. But a project that only required one emergency trip to Twins Ace Hardware for masonry screws instead of the usual three or four? I'll take it! Oh and the finials are from West Elm several years ago. They match the ones we have in the living room. I bought an extra set when they went on clearance. I just love the Lucite!

So here's the budget breakdown:

Fabric: $34.34
Hem tape: $6 (with some leftover)
Curtain rod and hanging hardware: $3
Curtain rings: $12.58 ($6.29 per package of seven rings)
Masonry screws: $0.50 (0.25 each)
Finials: left over from another project

TOTAL: $56.42

Not bad for a pair of curtains, huh? I also hung the Bjorn Wiinblad serigraph finally, after it broke my nice pot on Friday. I figured the next tumble might even be worse so I just screwed in two 50 pound wall anchors and got it off the top of the dresser.

More on that below the jump due to the mature nature of that print.

Monday, May 27, 2013

That pot really tied the room together

It's been a busy couple of days. Seriously, stuff just kept breaking. We had intended to have a fun and relaxing weekend, with a trip to a friend's house for pipe smoking and good conversation for Doug and a trip to a few thrift stores and an estate sale or two for me.

Instead we got this.

And this.

And this.

So, 7 hours and $2250 later, we now have a new air conditioner.

The HOA paid for the heat pump outside so I'm not sure what the replacement cost was, but the furnace inside was our responsibility. Guys, we did not try to DIY this. A thermostat, maybe. The entire heating and air conditioning system? No.

The good news is that the new system is under warranty for 15 years, and being stuck at home let me make some progress in the office. The even better good news is that we had funds saved up for just this sort of problem so we were able to pay cash for the repair.

Now, on to bigger and better things (or at least more fun ones). We're still making office progress, slowly but surely. If you'll recall, we last left it here:

The walls were painted, but we still had the trim and ceiling to paint. Here's the full list again.
  • declutter the space so we can see what we're working with
  • knock out a few projects that are in the way (take apart the radio, sell or donate the old games and childhood memorabilia, figure out what to do with a big box of old trophies)
  • paint the walls, trim & ceiling
  • bring in different shelving, sell off current mismatched shelving
  • paint the "tool shed"
  • hang some curtains 
  • hang art on the walls
  • install a new light fixture
  • do something about the awful mirrored closet doors
  • add accessories that are currently in storage
  • add an area rug
So last week, we banged out the trim and ceiling painting and it looked like this:

We took the white ceiling and...painted it white. In fairness, the old ceiling was a little creamier than the crisp white I was aiming for and the trim had taken a real beating. Even a Magic Eraser wasn't getting all the scuffs and grime off them. Now they are bright and white!

And then the following evening, we put together our new Expedit.

I think I can safely say that I have never been so excited in my life about a piece of IKEA furniture. Remember how this wall looked before?

With the two smaller mismatched Expedits? 

And the 2x2 cubby Expedit tucked there under the window? We sold all three on Craigslist, recouping about $75 toward the rest of the project.

Yeah, this is so much better. 

We also had one other accomplishment this weekend while the HVAC guys were here, but I'll wait until tomorrow to share that one. I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with "tapes".

Oh, one more thing. I had a sad little accident on Friday. I was ironing something for the next step of our office makeover, and the air conditioning was broken so I had the windows open. However, if you're a local, you may recall that the end of last weekend was particularly, annoyingly, unusually windy. 

Anyway, remember this nice pot?

Well, the Wiinblad serigraph was propped up against the wall ready to be hung and a gust of wind blew it over. In blowing over and falling off the dresser, it knocked the pot off the dresser with it. The pot hit the edge of the ironing board and shattered into about a million tiny pieces.

Waaaaa. Picture me crying here. Okay, so I didn't actually cry, but I felt like I could. It's vintage so it's not like I can just go out and buy another one. I definitely mourned. 

That pot really tied the room together.

So now I will be on the lookout for a similar accessory to put near the Bjorn Wiinblad serigraph.

And now for the round-up of where we are now.
  • declutter the space so we can see what we're working with
  • knock out a few projects that are in the way (take apart the radio, sell or donate the old games and childhood memorabilia, figure out what to do with a big box of old trophies)
  • paint the walls, trim & ceiling
  • bring in different shelving, sell off current mismatched shelving
  • paint the "tool shed"
  • hang some curtains 
  • hang art on the walls
  • install a new light fixture
  • do something about the awful mirrored closet doors
  • add accessories that are currently in storage
  • add an area rug
So what did you do this weekend? Any major home repairs putting a cramp in your style?
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