Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quick Computer Organization Tip

Does your desktop look like this?

I just discovered a new way to organize—wallpaper. No, not the kind you apply to your walls, but the kind that sits on your desktop.

Filing everything away into folders is one way to clear your desktop and keep your computer organized, but that won't always work for everyone. If you like to keep multiple icons on your desktop that you need to access a lot (and don't feel like clicking through 5 subdirectories to reach every time), this may help.

As many of you know by now, I run a business, so that means customer folders constantly being created and shifted around on my desktop. I normally just grouped them into different areas on my screen as they went through the process from purchase to print, so I could always "know" their status, but I wasn't completely satisfied with this method. Then—lightbulb moment—I decided to make my wallpaper useful and split the screen up into color coded areas, each representing a stage in the process.

Step 1 was to find the file size I needed to make, which will be your screen's resolution. In my case, its 1920x1080 pixels.

Then I took to illustrator to create the file. This was a process in trial and error... shifting things around and testing them out on the screen until everything was in a good spot.

That's all it took, and it works like a charm!

Now that the steps are clearly defined, I should feel more confident in my work process and know that everything is in its' place. This idea can be translated in so many different ways to fit everyone's individual needs. The possibilities are endless... really. Hopefully this can inspire someone else out there who is struggling with their desktop organization!

Pssst... I redesigned my "Projects" page to be more user-friendly and easily navigatable. Go check it out and tell me what you think!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dining Room Table Makeover

You know how in grade school, you'd have arts and crafts time... and the teacher would play music in the background and just let you go crazy with your paint and glue and scissors and paper? And it was the best thing ever and you never wanted it to end? That's what this weekend was like for me. A good arts & crafts session. I pretty much loved every minute of it. Maybe because it's something I've been waiting so long for.

I've been searching for the perfect pedestal dining table to fill our dining nook for as long as I can remember. And I am thrilled to announce that the day has finally come. Our nook now has a purpose.

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough for someone to not only discover my dream table on Craigslist, but she offered to deliver it too (thanks Sara!). And everything about it was perfect. It was $100, which isn't a steal for Craigslist, but it had everything I was looking for (plus 2 extension leaves) so I couldn't pass it up.

The first step was to decide what color to paint it. The obvious solution for me is usually white, but the table is going against a background of white wainscoting and that is just too much white on white. So my next thought was to bring a little color into the space with turquoise.

I still had some paint leftover from this chest:

Since the dining table would only be a few yards away from it, I thought it would be a good way to tie everything together. I didn't want it to match exactly, so I mixed in some white to give it a barely-there-blue shade.

Now for the transformation.

First, I lightly sanded to remove any surface dirt.

Then I applied a coat of oil based Zinsser primer.

After drying, I applied another coat.

At this point, you could still see some of the wood showing through, but the primer layers were becoming quite thick and I wasn't convinced it was necessary to completely coat the surface before painting (I could have been wrong... but I think I was right). So I moved onto to the next step.

Here's my custom mixed pale blue shade, ready to go.

And here is after one coat...

And after two...

Two coats was all it took, and then it just had to dry.

I had debated on whether or not to distress this piece, but after seeing the quality and texture of it in person, I decided it would be a good fit. There were natural grooves and holes and crevices in the wood, so even if I tried to make it as smooth and polished as possible, it just wouldn't ever have that perfect store-bought modern look. So I went with it.

Finally, I applied a few coats of Minwax's Polycrylic to seal and protect the surface.

And here's the table in its new home:

I just can't get over this shade... I'm in love!

I would have completed the room this weekend with chairs and a table setting, but that's a project all on its own. I've got plans for the accessories that will take a whole weekend to complete, if everything goes right *fingers crossed*

Here's a little preview of what I have to work with....

Yep... good old Ikea chairs. As you can see, they do not match the space at all. But that will change next weekend. See you then :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

DIY Showoff Feature!

The sweet, talented Roeshel over at the DIY showoff featured me on her blog this morning!

The DIY Show Off

If you haven't seen her blog yet... go check it out! There is always something fun going on over there for everyone to participate in. And every room in her house is amazing... my personal favorite is the kitchen:

How gorgeous is this?!

Thanks again, Roeshel! Your blog is such an inspiraton.

Be back Sunday with a "brand new" dining table reveal!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Foyer Board & Batten Reveal

Whew, we made it through through another wall treatment project! And this one might be my favorite yet.

Rewind back to last weekend, when we began the project assuming it would be complete the next day (yeah right). This is where we were at on Sunday:

So yesterday we (well, more like just me) got back to work. The final two boards went in and it was time to patch all the holes and seams. This is normally the most annoying part because not everything fits together perfectly because the walls are never straight. So I took my time and did my best, using putty on all the hail holes and wood-to-wood seams, and caulk where the boards met the wall:



Then it was just hours of sanding and trying to make everything even and seamless.

After the sanding, while I was letting the caulk dry, it was time to paint.

I was forced to repaint the entire top half because there were some imperfections where the wall met the trim from the first time it was painted, and we ran out of the original paint color. So I picked up a quart of Valspar's Magic Spell (the original paint was color matched to this) and crossed my fingers that the paint would be an exact match...

But alas, it was not. The real Magic Spell is the slightly lighter/greyer shade on the right. It didn't take long, however, and pretty soon I was ready to paint the bottom.

After about 10 coats (seriously) of Behr's paint + primer...

It was done!

Oh, and if you were wondering how we solved this PITA situation...

Let's just say it took some sculpting skills, but I think I remedied the situation pretty well (for an amateur)

We still need to add the base shoe and grout the tile area so ignore the gnarliness at the bottom as it will be covered.

Anyway, back to the reveal!

Here's the foyer freshly painted and ready to be re-accessorized:

Before I show the final after... let's take a quick trip down memory lane to the Original Before:

Metallic floral wallpaper... gotta love it.

The interim:

And now, the After:

The wall tiles are from Amazon.

I purchased the light from Overstock, but it's no longer available (see more on that here).

The prints on the right are 11.5x11.5", framed inside Ikea's $20 Virserum frames, found here. Prints can be customized and ordered in any size, here and here.

These are 12x16 prints inside Ikea's $17 Virserum frames, found here. The prints can be customized and purchased in any size, here and here.

The hooks were purchased at either HD or Lowe's (can't remember which, sorry!)

A COMPLETE HOUSE SOURCE LIST (including paint colors) can be found here!

There will still be one more After in this foyer's transformation, when we replace the glass with a solid frosted panel. Not sure when we'll go ahead and pull the trigger on that, but it's in the works.

And that does it for this weekend! I'm quite excited about next weekends project... it's sitting in the garage right now:

Ahhh... it's the pedastal table I've been dreaming about for months and months. We'll finally be able to fill this empty hole in our dining area....

Get excited.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Foyer Board & Batten: Part I

I was expecting to have a finished, beautiful new foyer to show off tonight.

Instead I have this:

A few boards on the wall and a two part post.

If you can remember earlier this summer, we installed this faux board and batten in our dining area. It was a long process but we learned a lot, and I felt we were ready for the more advanced board and batten.

I'll make this short because I'd rather not relive it again, but I decided Friday afternoon that we might as well just tackle our foyer project since nothing else was lined up. Brad was less than thrilled with the idea of spending yet another weekend on one of my projects, but he complied and off to Lowe's we went.

We picked up several 1x4's (painted MDF) and some chair rail for the long wall. The plan was to remove the old crusty baseboards and use 1x4 boards instead. Sounds simple, right? Well we forgot to take into account that it has to meet up with the old baseboards around the corner and they are nowhere near the same size and/or shape.

So we had this issue:

You can see where we tried to make a bunch of cuts to sort of piece it together and make it work... the other side was the same story:

Anyway, things were going well until this happened and Brad was not in the mood to deal with it so he gave up and spent the rest of the day in the Man Cave. I was over it too so I took the day off.

Today we came back, refreshed and regrouped, and decided to just make it work. I knew I could mold something decent from putty and sort of merge the pieces to the point where nobody would know just by glancing at it. It was either that or no project at all. And so the project continued.

Here's what the seams are looking like after some sanding a first coat of putty:

It's obviously nowhere near perfect, but I'm going to work on it little by little this week until I can make it work.

Iin the meantime.... we had a lot more patching and sanding to do elsewhere...

We're also going to have to repaint the entire top half of the foyer, because we ran out of paint and the paint we used was a Wal-Mart color-match to Valspar. Walmart no longer carries that paint brand, so we are SOL with all of the paint colors in our house. Ugh.. never use Walmart paint. I probably won't ever color match again at all because of this. But anyways....

The lifesaver of this whole project was our metal nail file set we recently purchased. I used it to carve down the baseboards, and also to perform this magic trick on finishing nails that stick out:

Check out what happened to this nail....

Approx 20 seconds later....

Nail? What nail?

Nail files: Highly, highly recommended.

Moving along.

We went ahead and installed the top horizontal pieces FIRST after learning our lesson from the first time around.

Early on, we discovered that none of our walls are exactly straight... including the slope of the floors, so one end of the wall could need taller vertical pieces than the other. This foyer wall was no exception.

I had cut all the vertical boards to 48" (for an overall height of 58" from the floor), and the first board fit perfectly, but by the time I got to the end....

It was nearly half an inch too long on the other end. I had to trim each piece down a bit, but this method ensured a perfect fit for each board rather than having to fill the gaps in with putty like last time. I spaced them 13.5" apart, but I could have used any width for the gap—it's all personal preference and planning around obstacles (like outlets).

And viola:

Everything has been putty'd and it's ready for sanding & paint. I miscalculated my measurements a bit for the other wall, so I still need to run back to Lowe's this week and get a couple more boards. Then it's smooth sailing from there!

So next week, I promise, there will be a finished foyer reveal. And it should be worth the week long wait :)