Furniture, Home Improvement, Interior Decorating

These are a few of my favorite things

I’ve been working on creating a gallery wall of some sort in my living room for months now. I am not one of those people who is naturally talented at gallery walls. In fact, I almost always hate them when I’m finished with them.

We’d hung a gallery wall in our bedroom that we left up for no time at all because B and I both ended up not liking the way it looked:

20120624-210044.jpg

This one was just so blah and symmetrical…

Even though I’ve been a gallery wall failure, I always admire them. I decided to try again in our living room and boy was it a process.

This is the wall I started with:

Child's Desk shelves

OK, so that’s an awful photo. But basically it had one large canvas piece on it I got from Home Goods. I love the painting, but it doesn’t look nice above our mint couch, which is now on the wall in our living room. Plus, it didn’t fill the space on the wall enough.

new couch

Here’s the first iteration of a gallery wall I did:

Gallery-Wall_photosA few things to note:

  1. Look how far this room has come! Holy smokes, I still can’t believe it. (Better photos at the end of the post, I swear)
  2. I was trying to decide if I wanted to abandon my mint curtains for white curtains, hence why they are the wrong way on the window. I got a lot of questions about that from guests šŸ™‚

I bought all of those frames from Home Goods and really liked the mixture of wood, metals, rustic and glam. But I just never loved it. I think part of me is sick of seeing the same photos over and over again. We’ve been married for 3+ years and engaged for 5+ years, so the fancy engagement and wedding pictures are old news at this point. But they are still the most frame-worthy photos we have and they are always what I resort to.

gallery-wall_photos_close

To get this arrangement, I laid all of the frames out on the floor and put a lot of thought into which frame went where. This ended with a mostly symmetrical arrangement.

Here was my beef with this wall:

  1. Too symmetrical
  2. Too photo-centric
  3. Old photos

Really, it just seemed like I was trying too hard. At least to me it did. I left it like this for months until I could figure out what I wanted to do differently. If you notice the horizontal photo that was displayed vertically — yes, this was left this way for months, too.

I started to think I wanted to redo some of the gallery wall after B’s birthday. I gave him an amazing print of our pup, Remmy. It’s basically the best gift I’ve ever given anyone.Ā 

Birthday Portrait

We hung it immediately in place of one of our real photos, because how could we not?

It wasn’t until after Christmas that I had the idea to completely redo the gallery wall with art only. You see, B gave me two amazing maps of Maryland. The big kahuna was a map from 1880 — holy old! We had the map custom framed and needed a spot to hang it. B wanted to hang it over our console table, but I’ve got my heart set on finding theĀ perfect mirror to reflect all of the natural light from our bay window. The map has mint and pink in the outlines of counties and cities, so I thought it would look marvelous over our couch.

I started messing around with the wall little by little, pulling down artwork from other spots in the house.

Gallery wall_adding in art

Finally, I just decided to go for it. All of the photos came down and the nails came out of the wall.

gallery wall_map is up

I started my placing everything on the floor, but again I made the design so symmetrical. So I hung up the map (my anchor piece) and two other pieces of art and left it alone. It looked like this for a week before I decided to do what I do best and just wing it.

At this point the wall was already riddled with nail holes that needed to be touched up, so I just went for it. Everything was added one by one. The spacing isn’t even, the whole wall isn’t symmetrical… and I LOVE IT. It just fills the large wall so nicely without feeling too huge.

Gallery Wall_Complete

You’ll see a lot of things I’ve shared before on the blog:

  1. Sentimental Map Art
  2. Love Pallet Sign
  3. Do What You Love Print
  4. Remmy Print

Gallery Wall_zoomed in

You’ll also see a bunch of other art I’ve collected over the years:

  1. Golden Pond canvas print (Home Goods)
  2. Shadow box full of roses B has given me
  3. My two new Maryland maps
  4. A graphic print of dogs my coworker gave me
  5. Two bird paintings from one of my favorite artists

Basically, it is a wall of my favorite things: dogs, birds, Maryland and love šŸ™‚ I seriously couldn’t be happier with how this turned out.

Funny enough, I’m sure it isn’t 100 percent complete. As you can see, I left room around the edges for small additions. I’d like to do a more colorful print, replacing the Do What You Love print. And I amĀ always checking out Pratt Creek Art for more bird paintings.

Plus, I really need to patch the holes you can still see and hang everything (in the exact same spot) maybe a tad bit straighter ;p

On the whole, It really does so much for this room. I love my gray walls, but with nothing on them they can be quite dreary. This art wall adds much-needed color and pizzaz to my favorite room in the house — a room that really has come a long way.

It just goes to show you that rushing into designing a room doesn’t always end with the best result. We’ve been in our house for three years now and this room is now just starting to feel like it is almost finished. All it needs is a mirror, and I am one happy home owner!

Gallry Wall_Living Room

Next week I’ll share the redo of our master bedroom. It’s not complete yet, but it looks a lot better than it did a month ago.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Christmas, Holiday, Home Improvement, Paint

A mini fireplace renovation and Christmas decor

I love the winter holiday season and all of the decorating that comes with it. I was extra excited to decorate our mantel this year because I just completed a mini fireplace reno.

Do you remember this gem of a fireplace that we started with when we moved in?

Before fireplace

This is how we changed our fireplace after we did our family room reno.

fireplace

The difference in the brightness alone is nuts! But something was still missing. The fireplace was outdated with the old metal doors. New doors are so expensive, so I decided to DIY the doors and the inside of the fireplace to complete the three-years-long reno.

Brass doors

To start, I removed the doors and cleaned out the fireplace. Then, I painted the inside of the fireplace black with heat-resistant paint.

Fireplace unpainted

I did two coats of paint on the inside to cover up the soot, and it turned out really nice! I actually contemplated not adding the doors back on, but Brian said he prefered doors to an open fireplace.

Fireplace Brick

Once that was dry, I started to work on the doors. At first, I sprayed the doors with heat-resistant black spray paint. I taped the glass, but didn’t cover all of the panes with newspaper. (Word to the wise — cover the glass! I had to later scrape off paint. Oops.)

Spray painted

The spray paint didn’t hold up so great, so I ended up painting the doors with the same paint I used for the inside of the fireplace. Once that dried, I was able to rehang the doors.

Ready for the big (small?) reveal?

TA DA! Oh, and Christmas decorations šŸ™‚

fireplace3

Do you love the black doors? It’s taken me a while — I actually hated them at first — but I really like them. I’ll admit that I wish they were new and fancy and not spray painted, but considering we don’t use the fireplace and the doors are rarely opened, this little DIY will work just great for us. Buh-bye brass!

The only downside to the painted doors is the paint does scratch off if nicked in the right way. Other than that, I’m really happy with the new look. I don’t miss the old, dated color at all.

OK, enough reno talk. Check out my Christmas decor! I absolutely love my Christmas mantel.

fireplaceremmy

As you can see, Remmy loves it, too. Really, he just loves to sniff his stocking to see if there’s anything in it yet. Sometimes he cries because he can’t get it down. I think it is hilarious — does that make me a mean doggie mom?

santas

On my mantel I have my collection of Jim Shore Santas. We got one as a wedding gift, and I’ve been in love with them ever since. I can’t wait to see which new Santas I get this year as gifts.

Christmas is the one time of year we do seasonal decorating, so we take it pretty seriously. We have one real Christmas tree, a small fake tree I decorate with flamingo ornaments, a decorated mantel, a decorated TV shelf and a decorate console table. We even decorate by our bar. And, of course, we do lights outside.

How do you all decorate for Christmas? If you have a blog, I’d love to see what you’ve been up to this holiday season. And if you don’t have a blog, no worries… the rest of my house (outside of these photos) is messed up with wrapping paper shreds and stuffĀ I had to move out of the picture frame. It isn’t quite as perfect as it may appear šŸ™‚

Speaking of perfect, I have not been on the ball this year with holiday cards and gifts.Ā I am looking to get holiday cards a.s.a.p.Ā andĀ I found the most adorable cards on ShutterflyĀ that are in the cutest shapes (i.e. not just rectangles). Some have scalloped edges, some have rounded corners and some look like quatrefoils. They are such a fun twist on normal cards — now I just need a cute photo of me, B and Rem!

I also need to get a kickstart on my gifts. I’ve purchased quiteĀ a few things, but there are so many giftsĀ I want to make that I haven’t even started on! Work, class and other life crazinessĀ has made this holiday season fly by so far.Ā Where are my elves when I need them?! Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have time off before Christmas, so I’ll be my own elf and make my gifts then.

Are you making gifts this year or tackling any mini makeovers before your relatives come to town this holiday season? I’d love to see your holiday decor, renos and crafts! The holidays really do bring out the most creative and fun ideas.

Home Improvement

Master Bathroom Reveal

I was a little neurotic with getting my bathroom to a place where I was ready to share it on my blog. I could have shared it last weekend, since it was mostly finished. Paint, bead board, shelves, hooks, etc. — that was all taken care of … but I hadn’t gotten bath mats! And my shower curtain was still in the mail. And I wanted art!

Finally,Ā almost all of the pieces are together (I still can’t find a nice soap dispenser Ā that matches the chrome in my bathroom. They are all too warm-tones. My chrome is cool toned — like I said, neurotic!) and I canĀ finally share my reno.

OK, back to the beginning. Here’s the bathroom when I started:

Before4

There was nothing terribly wrong with it, but I didn’t love the whole look. Our house was a Fannie Mae house and they redid a few rooms, but with not-so-great stuff. The builder-grade vanity and sink weren’t so nice and seemed to clog all the time. The drain wasn’t installed properly and the stopper wouldn’t go up or down.

We’d already replaced the mirror with a surface-mount medicine cabinet, but I quickly grew tired of having the mirror sticking out in my business when I tried to brush my teeth and do my hair.

Before

You can also see the $8 light and us using the top of the cabinet for extra storage. Part of this problem was remedied by us just having less stuff in the bathroom.

Before2

Anyway, while a lot of folks would have been fine with the bathroom the way it was, I got tired of the little annoyances and the design, errr, flaws. So I told B that for my birthday I was going to redo the bathroom. That was back in February. I couldn’t decide exactly what I wanted so I put the project on hold for a few months.

When I visited my friend’s new place a month or so ago she had a bathroom similar to what I’d been thinking for ours, inspiring me to revisit the bathroom reno!

OK, so there’s the before and the back story. Now to the project.

I researched what I wanted for weeks before starting this project. And then I stock piled supplies for a few weeks longer once things started coming in. My original idea is nowhere near what I ended up with, but I love the final product.

Let’s start with demoĀ talk!Ā First thing’s first, I needed to remove the tile at the baseboards.

IMG_3728

I used a pry bar to take off all of the tile, hammering it behind to get the tile to pop off the wall.

IMG_3729

This demo took all of 1o minutes and was so much fun.

IMG_3730

Next, I took off the medicine cabinet. Then I promptly hammered a hole into the wall. Muahahaha. It was AWESOME! Brian freaked out about this part, but I reassured him that it would all look nice when I put a new medicine cabinet there.

Bathroom Reno_Medicine Cabinet hole

I finished demo by taking out the vanity, toilet (thanks, Allie!) and other features.

Once I had everything taken apart, I had to put it back together The plan was simple. Bead board. Floating vanity. Tile accents. ThickĀ moldings. Tile insets in the wall. Wall hooks. Industrial vanity lighting. Vessel sink.

Some of that stuff happened! Let’s start with the bead board.

BEAD BOARD

I used PVC bead board, which will hold up to the moistureĀ in the bathroom. Good call.

The PVC bead board came with two options: standard plank (three per sheet) or wide plank (two per sheet). I preferred wide plank as a slight twist on the classic. Each sheet was 8 feet long and 7 inches wide. Before I could install the bead board I had to cut all of the sheets in half using a mitre saw.

Once that was complete, and my neighbor came over to help me, we jumped right on installation. It took us about four hours to make it around the whole bathroom. Corners and pipes were slightly tricky, but nothing we couldn’t handle.

Bead Board Corner

IĀ didn’t worry about getting the corners just right because I bought corner trim. You can see the gap in the photo above.

We cut around the pipes behind the vanity, then used a hole saw for the pipe behind the toilet. It worked great. To install the bead board, I used adhesive and my nail gun.

Bead board 2

We called it a night with the bead board on the walls.

The next morning, I started installing the baseboards. Allie came over to help me with the Ā chair rail molding, which was wonderful. The baseboards were easy, and I tackled those no problem, but the thicker molding at the top was more of a challenge and I was grateful for Allie’s help.

The trickiest part was around the window. We opted to rip out the bottom of the window sill, cut off the top piece of molding, then install the molding around the window as if it were always like that.

Molding

You can see the little gaps that I was later able to fill with caulk.

With all of the moldings up, I caulked the whole bathroom — twice. We installed the chair railĀ molding on top of the bead board, which left a decent gap from the wall. Because of that, I had to fill in with a lot of caulk. When it dried, it needed a second round. It was amazing was the caulk did to “finish off” the molding.

Up next, paint! The bead board and trim got three coats of white paint.

Then, the hubby and IĀ reinstalled the toilet. And then the sink. Our neighbor Chad helped us a great deal with this since neither of us haveĀ any experience with plumbing.

The vanity I bought (not the floating one) had a shelf that (of course) hit right at the pipe coming out of the wall. SOOOOOO, we had to cut up the vanity to make it work.

Plumbing1

Plumbing2

It’s not pretty, but it got the job done. AND, you can’t see this little jigsaw action until you open the cabinets. There’s plenty of storage on either side, so overall we didn’t lose too much space.

The plumbing with the sink wasn’t a joy ride either. It seems the sink and faucet (not a vessel sink) weren’t the easiest things to install. We got it kind of hooked up a few weeks ago, but the hot water leaked and the center faucet could easily turn (not good, not good). Thankfully plumber Chad came to our rescue again, installing the faucet the proper way last weekend.

OK, so I’m gonna jump around a little in the timeline here since we did parts of the medicine cabinet project early on, and other parts later.

I shared the hole in the wall photo already. After we installed the bead board, but before we added the chair railĀ molding, Allie and I cut out the hole for the medicine cabinet. This was one of my favorite parts.

I knocked out a bunch of the wall with a hammer first. When I made sure I wasn’t going to totally destroy any wiring by using a saw, I starting cutting along the edges of the 2x4s with a drywall saw. The tricky part, which I didn’t photograph, was there were two 2×4 supports running horizontally in this portion of the wall. We removed both, but then relocated the bottom 2×4Ā so it could add extra support for the cabinet.

Medicine Cabinet

Then, we popped the mirror into the wall — it fit perfectly!

Medicine Cabinet2

OK, so I said I had to jump around for this part — I partially installed the medicine cabinet when we put up the molding because I wanted it flush with the bottom of the cabinet. Then, IĀ removed the cabinet again and left it out until the room was painted.

Now let’s talk paint. I wanted the bathroom to feel really bright, hence the all-white molding, sink and vanity. I continued this idea with paint choices, opting to go with Breath of Fresh Air from Benjamin Moore. The other thing I did with the paint that I’ve never done before was painting the ceiling the same color as the walls. I absolutely love this choice — it really separated the top of the bathroom from the stark white of the bottom and ended up being one of my favorite design choices in the whole room. You can see the color in the next few photos.

Once the paint was dry, the last thing to do was install the fixtures. I went with chrome for everything, even though the rest of the house is brushed nickel. I added a new toilet paper holder, two hooks for hanging our towels (instead of a towel bar) and a floating glass shelf. I permanently installed the medicine cabinet, too.

Then it was time for the light. The light was tricky for me. You can see in the photo below that the junction box is fairly close to the medicine cabinet hole, which we had to make higher on the wall since the hubster is 6’2″ and would like to be able to see his face in the mirror instead of his chest.

Because of this, finding the light was tricky. On the plus side, the light I ended up going with (not the industrial lighting) ended up being super cheap — $26, plus the globes.

Lighting

I bought two kinds of globes from Lowes. You can see the large white globes on the fixture and the clear option on the vanity. The white globes were too large, the clear globes were WAYYYYYY too bright. It was blinding in that room.

Lighting2

We ended up with smaller frosted glass globes that we are both really happy with. Brian liked the white color of the first globes. I liked the size of the second globes. The final choice was a happy marriage of the two.

Lighting3

All right…. I’ve given you more pictures of the actual process then you probably ever could have wanted. Time for the reveal!

Ta daaaaaaa! My first renovation where I didn’t have to run to my dad, step dad or family friend/contractor for help. Damn, that feels good šŸ™‚

FINAL_WINDOW SHOT

I am beyond pleased with how the bathroom turned out. And I’m beyond proud of myself for everything that I tackled on my own. I manned the saws and all of the power tools. That list included a compound mitre saw (SO MUCH FUN), a circular saw, a jigsaw, a nail gun, a drywall saw, a pry bar (also so much fun) and a brief stint with the reciprocating saw…. then I decided that was a surefire way to cut through the wall in my other bathroom by accident.

FINAL_TOILET SHOT

I tackled demo on my own (exceptĀ the toilet… thanks to my neighbor Allie for beingĀ such a good friendĀ and helping me remove our toilet. That’s a real friend, guys.) Using a pry bar was so fun, although quite nerve wracking the first time. I knew I wanted to get rid of the baseboard tile, but I didn’t want to mess up the floor tile. Luckily, it came off without a problem.

FINAL_SHOWER SHOT2

I’m also really pumped that B and I reinstalled the toilet ourselves. That involved scraping off an old wax ring, which Brian was SO grossed out by. He went downstairs to get gloves (he grabbed gardening gloves instead of rubber guys…. poor choice) and while he was looking for them I tackled the wax ring issue on my own. Gross, but oddly satisfying.

FINAL-GARDEN STOOL

The design looks on point, for sure. I think the all while bottom, including the sink and vanity, looks really crisp. I chose beige bath mats to blend in with the floors versus having a color pop out on the floor. My only color rebellion is my new garden stool that I rest my hairdryer and brush on when I get ready.

FINAL-SINK SHOT

The sink was like my zillionth choice. I wanted a larger, longer vanity to fill all of the space to the left of our vanity (where the garden stool lives). But that would have involved moving plumbing, which would have been much more costly and such a pain. The other issue with that was my bathroom is so narrow that the depth of the vanity (19 inches) didn’t seem to exist with the width I wanted.

That’s when I had the idea to to the floating vanity with a vessel sink. Brian loves vessel sinks, so I thought that would be a nice way to get his taste in the bathroom. That ended up being a logistical nightmare. I wasn’t confident in our ability to support the sink.

So then I toyed with the idea of essentially building an open box with legs as more of a modern look. 1. I’m glad I didn’t do that. Modern is not my style. 2. I wasn’t feeling my wood options at Home Depot or Lowes and was finding it tricky to find other sources for a super small order of lumber. That and I have ZERO experience with building a sturdy piece of furniture. There’s a first time for everything, butĀ maybeeee not when it is attached to plumbing that could rip out of the wall if something went wrong.

My investigation finally led me to the vanity you see. I found it on Amazon, of all places. And that’s where I got the sink (Kohler) and the faucet (Phister). The first vanity came damaged, which actually worked out great because we used it as a test vanity for cutting out the shelf for the pipe. Ā Overall, the vanity I ended up with is very much my style. Had I thought to look on Amazon for a vanity in the first place (versus Home Depot and Lowes), I think this would have been one of my top choices. I wasn’t having the Home Depot or Lowes vanities since they are made of not-so-lovely materials. My vanity is sturdy with soft-close cabinets. Awesome!

FINAL-SINK

The faucet, although a pain to install, is one of my favorite parts. It was expensive and worth every penny. I love the look. I love the feel of the water. I love the chrome. I love it.

FINAL-FROM THE SHOWER SHOT

And last, but not least… the bead board. Oh how I love my bead board. I love my molding. I don’t miss the tile that I thought about installing between the top of the bead board and the thick molding. It is so classic. It is so clean. I freakin’ adore it. Look for more bead board projects whenever we have a nursery to do. It is happening.

So there you have it folks. Possibly the longest blog post on A Smith of All Trades to date. I am so damn pleased and proud of this bathroom. It was a labor of love during which I proved to myself that I am a bad ass chica who can do construction and not totally botch it up. And, like so many of our other projects, I am reminded of how awesome and helpful our friends are. Without them, I couldn’t have made it through sane.

One last before & after for good measure…

BEFORE:

Before4

AFTER:

FINAL_WINDOW SHOT

It is magical.