Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thrifted and DIY Art Work

One of the things that has been missing in our house is art on the walls. In my opinion, getting art up on your walls is one of the most challenging things in a home, but also one of the most important since it can make a room feel complete. Art is so personal... and for myself, as an artistic person, I would have trouble putting "big box" art on my walls. So, our house has had empty walls since moving in for the most part.

We have lucked out at thrift stores on a few occasions. For example, we found our large art piece in our sitting room at a local thrift store. It is totally my style, and an original.

Before we met, Joe found (and framed) the bike art that is in our kitchen.

More recently, I found a couple of matching pieces that I put in our guest bedroom. I think I might eventually paint the frames to make them a little more interesting.

We have found a bunch of other, small pieces that are around the house as well.  However, despite months (even years!) of looking, we weren't finding anything that would work in our room, or Henry's nursery.

So, I decided to go the DIY route.
About 7 years ago, I pulled a large, framed, ugly canvas art out of a pile of stuff my neighbour was taking to the dump. I had plans of reusing the canvas to make something for myself. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I forgot to take a before picture... but to give you an idea, it was a brown/orange/beige, swirly, 70's, failed attempt at abstract looking thing (70's DIY!). It kicked around for all of those years, mostly in my Mum's house. Finally, I got around to using it! I painted the back white and chose a few accent colours and painted strips with a large paintbrush. I don't love it, but it definitely adds colour and interest to our room! And ties everything together.

For Henry's room, I wanted some fun animal art. I am lucky to have some artistic ability, so I simply drew some animals by using Sharpie paint markers. I bought some patterned paper for the background and cut and paste the animals on. I *may* have gotten my inspiration for these from photos I found online, so they are in no way original. But, they definitely spruce up the nursery. I am now on the hunt for a big poster to hang over his crib in the orange/gray-brown/brown/yellow colour scheme I am going for in there. His room still needs a lot of work to get it where I want it!

Things are starting to really shape up around here and it feels great!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Good-bye Clown Bathroom!

As I have already mentioned, Joe and I got a lot done over March Break.
One of the projects that we tackled was the downstairs bathroom. This was definitely the project I was the least excited about doing, especially after painting the upstairs bathroom (which you can read all about here). Painting tile is very finicky, and this bathroom had enough tile to sink a ship!

For  those of you who haven't seen our lovely basement bathroom, it earned the nickname "clown bathroom". I think the pictures speak for themselves on that one:

Isn't it frightening?! I have definitely questioned how that bathroom ever came to be on multiple occasions.

After having so much success painting our upstairs bathroom, I decided that I would do the same for this one. I needed Joe's help though... I mean, there was even colourful tile on the ceiling! Come on!

So, after a couple of days of elbow grease and 4 coats of primer and paint, it is finished! And we are Soooo happy it is done. I'm not going to say it is now a dream bathroom, but it is definitely livable. The best part was that we were able to reuse the primer and paint that I used in the upstairs bathroom, so this transformation was free!

We decided to keep the red door, mostly because we were sick of painting. But, maybe one day that will change.

Since it was a free makeover, I think I will splurge on a carpet and maybe some new hand towels to spruce things up. I will show you if and when that happens! The best part of this whole thing is that now I can go into the basement without being afraid!

As of now, the only thing we haven't repainted in the entire house is the basement itself. It is the last remnant of barfy yellow paint. For now, I think I'll focus on adding more interest to the rest of the house since we really don't use the basement.

To end it off, I leave you with a glorious before and after shot! (Ignore the bad quality... I couldn't be bothered to fix it today. You get the idea!)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Happy St. Paddy's Day everyone!

Henry is enjoying his Irish heritage today and even dressed for the occasion!
Our little guy is 6 weeks old! It is hard to believe. Although it feels like he has always been a part of our family!

On an unrelated note... This article came up today on my Facebook page from the David Suzuki Foundation, about Green parenting. It mentioned the idea of diaper-free toileting, also know as "Elimination Communication". I had heard about it before but brushed it off as cray-cray! 

However, today I thought I would read a little further and was linked to this article, written by a mom following this practice. The idea sounded rather simple in some way... and I realized I already knew many of Henry's "gotta-go!" cues and timings. Of course, if you know me, you'd know that I am willing to try almost anything that helps me to reduce my environmental footprint. So... 

*Did I just publish a picture of my newborn babies' poop? Yep, I did!
Wouldn't you know it... it WORKS! Let me tell you... I was SO excited when he not only peed, but pooped too! My excitement was almost embarrassing... and the cutest part was, he was looking up at me smiling and cooeing while this all happened, as if it was the greatest thing he'd ever done. Oh the bonding.

I was so gung-ho that I kept it going... and so far today he has gone in the toilet 5 times (He is still wearing his cloth diapers, but I am just taking them off when I think he has to go. And I have changed 3 wet diapers, so it hasn't been perfect.) I calculated that if I saved 5 diapers a day, I would save about 75 loads of laundry a year. Isn't that amazing? 

The downfall so far? We don't have a main floor bathroom, so I have been sprinting up the stairs every time I think he has to go. Very tiring, especially when you also have to hold a semi-squat positions while making a "pssss" noise until he pees, which can take some time. After the fifth time, I had physically reached my max! But I can also see this as an upside... bring on the baby weight loss!

I never imagined this would be the highlight of my day...ever. 

The verdict: I love the idea of this, but we will have to see how it goes. I can see it becoming more of a hassle than it's worth. But, I'd ideally like to use it as much as possible. It doesn't hurt!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kitchen update

Luckily for me, Joe is on March Break this week. That means we were easily able to finish the rest of the kitchen.

When we were given the estimate for refacing our cabinets from the guy who did it, he had put an extra $900 to paint the remaining surfaces. That put the estimate from $2100 (which included taking measurements, making cabinet and drawer fronts, painting them, installing and putting on hardware) up to $3000 (to do the painting on top of that). Since I am pretty comfortable painting, and on maternity leave income, we decided to do the rest of the painting ourselves, especially since the painting seemed a little expensive. I'm definitely glad! It took the two of us about 9 hours total (Me: 6 hours; Joe: 3 hours). And the finished product looks amazing! I was a little nervous doing the painting since there was no room for mess-ups, but we took our time and it worked really well. Plus, it saved us $100 per hour! Yes, please!

I am so excited to finally have my white shaker kitchen. I have been dreaming about it for a long time! Here are a few photos! We will probably add a window treatment of some kind to add a bit more colour. Otherwise, we are loving the way the granite and backsplash look now.

The only thing that is unfinished is the cabinet above the desk/ beside the fridge. Unfortunately they were measured wrong, so there is about 3/4 of an inch gap between the two cabinet doors. This is where we decided to add a large cabinet door to cover up the awkward shelving that was there before. Our cabinet guy said he should have it done in about a week. 

And here is a little before and after for your viewing pleasure!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Kitchen Progress!

So...Joe and I took a big risk and it has paid off!
Let me start from the beginning. When we bought our house, I knew that the kitchen needed a major facelift. I decided that I would try to go the refacing route in order to save some money and resources. Let me remind you of what our kitchen looked like before:

Not so nice, right?

In the fall, I had a lady from Home Depot come into my kitchen and give us an estimate for Cabinet refacing. To my astonishment, it was going to cost around $10,000! And was after a 10% discount promo. I was very disappointed and started imagining whether or not repainting could work. Or worse... whether or not I should just live with it! After a few more months I decided to try one more option: Kijiji.

I searched and found a handy man with years of cabinet making experience who was offering refacing. I called him up and he came in to take a look. His estimate was just over $2000. I could not believe it! It didn't include painting the sides of the cabinets, but I am happy to do that myself in order to save more money. This is where the risk came in, since he was asking for a 50% deposit. We asked and called references and asked for a GST #, and wrote the cheque, simply hoping that he would do a good job.

Now, about a month later, the cabinet fronts are installed! They look amazing. And the price tag still came in at under a quarter of Home Depot's estimate. I am pretty pleased. Now it's up to me to paint up the rest. I can't wait to see the finished product! It is already such a huge improvement. I will keep you updated on the rest!

Here is a sneak peak at the progress so far.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Things That Didn't Get Blogged About

I would have thought that maternity leave meant that I would have oodles of time to blog. Well, I was wrong! Apparently, I also had trouble blogging during the last months of my pregnancy. I got so far behind on the list of things I wanted to blog about that I have almost stopped blogging altogether!

So, I've decided to put those things to rest. Instead of detailed posts on each project, I will simply put them all in this post so that I can move on, and blog as I wish from now on! 

1. Adding interest to our sitting room: We finally got around to putting up some art work, and bought a few colourful pillows and a purple throw to add some colour and tie things together. We also found an amazing teak table on Kijiji and added some lighting.

2. Painting the spare bedroom: This is still a very boring room. But, it is better than barfy yellow!

3. The nursery: While I still have a ton of ideas to add to the nursery, (now that we know that Henry is a He!), I didn't really show much of the nursery itself. This is what it looks like now... it still has a lot of work that needs to be done. For now, Henry is still sleeping with us in our room, so this is really a glorified baby-changing room.

4. Painting our bedroom: Apparently I don't have any great photos to show this... but we repainted our bedroom a soft blue. 

5. Our en-suite bathroom: We repainted (using up the leftover light blue paint from the bedroom), took out the ugly wall cupboard and replaced it with artwork, and added a new vanity. It is a huge improvement.


6. Updates to the sitting room: We have definitely livened up this room, and it has become my favourite place to hang out in the house!

We bought a nifty plant from Ikea, found an amazing original painting at a local thrift store, and found a great mirror to put over the liquor cabinet. 

7. Long before even moving into our current home, we bought this hutch for $45 at a thrift store. We had plans of repainting it. Then, it sat in our garage for months. Finally, we got around to painting it! Joe chose a shiny black, and we polished up the hardware to make it as good as new. It looks amazing! Now we just need to put things in it...


I'm pretty sure there are other things that I have forgotten. On another note... we are currently in the process of updating our kitchen cabinets. I'm pretty excited about it. I will (hopefully!) give the update on that soon!