29 Jun 2012

Garage Sale Goodness

I managed to skip out for a few hours on Saturday morning with a good friend to go garage saleing.  The weather was perfect and the garage sales were plentiful, so it was a great morning all in all.  Here are a few of my finds.  I have plans for all of them....stay tuned.

This old camera bag was only $2 (which I borrowed from my friend and just realized that I forgot to pay back - ack!  I only went with big bills like a dummy).  I knew right away that I wanted to store some of Fin's gear in it.  I figured she'd like hauling it around and showing off her treasures.  For now though, it has found a place under the cornbread end table holding all of her books.  Functional and cute...gotta love it.

I spotted this huge frame as we walked up the driveway to a sale and knew right away that it was going to be coming home with me.

Personally, I think the painting is horrendous, but it was only the frame that I was really after.  I made an offer of $10 for it, which was very happily accepted by the seller.  Then the seller's sister started debating whether she really wanted to let it go or not. She was going on and on about how lovely the painting was and how vibrant the colours were - I didn't have the heart to tell her that I was ripping it out as soon as humanly possible.

I dug through a huge box of old pins trying to find all of the yellow ones.  I managed to find 15 of them!

They were 6 for $0.25, so I gave the lady $1 and left with all of my yellow pins.  I have a plan for them in the  kitchen.  Mr. Swell thought I had gone completely insane to pay anything for old pins.  I'll show him!

And lastly, I snagged these antique pulleys.

I had to wheel and deal to get the seller down in price, but in the end I got them for $20 (and she threw in 2 mason jars).  To me, these are the find of the day.  I am totally in love with them.

How about you? Have you scored any garage sale goodness lately?

Linking to: Southern Hospitality

27 Jun 2012

The Kitchen: Finished Cabinets and Hardware Upgrade

WOO HOO! The bottom cabinet doors are finally back on.  I seriously couldn't be happier.  Living without cabinet doors for weeks on end started to really get on my nerves.  I like hiding my mess.

It's hard for me to remember what the kitchen looked like before.  I look back on the 'before' pictures and it doesn't even look like our house any more.  Here's a flash back for ya....

The white cabinets make the kitchen feel so much brighter and bigger - which is an added bonus we hadn't expected.

I've already shared with you most of the checked off  items from our original Plan of Attack (paint, tile, remove cabinet).  There are just a couple to go - the beadboard island and the updated hardware. 

So, let's talk hardware (the island will come your way in a few days). 

Can you see in the before picture that the hardware is totally basic silver and boring?  It's a builder grade special.  I hated them....with a passion.  It wasn't the shape so much that I hated, it was more the fact that you can buy the same handles at Home Depot in the bargain section.  I don't want my house to be so obviously from the bargain section.

I started looking at new hardware and realized pretty quickly that it just wasn't going to be an option for us.  To get what I wanted was going to be at least $5 a handle.  5 bucks, 5 bucks, 5 bucks....it started to add up quickly.  The hardware alone was going to cost more than the tile and the paint.  I just couldn't justify it. 

But I sure as heck wasn't going to live with the bargain department handles either.  So, I turned to spray paint (gasp...I know...me spray paint? Say it ain't so...).

We took all of the handles off of the cabinets and stored them in a mug until I was ready to get my spray paint on. 

Then I washed them all with hot soapy water to get any gunk off.

And layed them out on my special spay paint carpet (it's the back of an old piece of carpet and works perfect for spray painting).

And sprayed away using Tremclad Hammered Metal in black. 

I really wanted to make sure that they didn't have any drips, so I sprayed a few light coats making sure to move the can back and forth while spraying.

Here they are after 1 coat.

And after 2 coats.

The hammered metal spray paint left a texture on the handles that really makes them look and feel like they are made of iron.  

Surprisingly enough, I actually really like the handles now.  It's amazing what some spray paint can do. They don't look like bargain handles any longer.  You can't buy these puppies at The Home Depot.  The best part is that instead of over $200 for new hardware, we were able to refresh these handles for $6 and about 10 minutes of work.

Here's another shot of the fresh new cabinets with their spray painted handles (sorry, couldn't resist showing it to you again.)

25 Jun 2012

The Kitchen: Tearing Down a Cabinet

When we started on this little kitchen reno of ours we knew from the start that we wanted to rip out one of the cabinets and replace it with open shelving.  The cabinet was sort of off to the side by itself and we thought that it made the kitchen feel more blocked in than it needed to be. When you came in from the back door and turned into the kitchen the first thing you saw was the side of a cabinet, which wasn't exactly appealing.  To be honest, we didn't really have a plan for what type of shelves we were going to use or how many we'd have in the end, we just knew the cabinet was coming out.

Remember what it looked like before?

It's the one on the right above the dishwasher.  

We emptied it out (it held all of our glasses) and got the drill out ready to take out all of the screws.  Well, much to our surprise the whole cabinet was held up with only 2 screws - only one of which was load bearing.  

I am still totally amazed that we didn't wake up one night to the sound of our glasses crashing all over the floor.  These are only some of the joys of living in a house that was built during boom times - corners cut all over the place. 

Once we had the cabinet off the wall we were treated to even more surprises.  There were holes all over the place behind it.  Apparently the cabinet installer didn't believe in a stud finder, and instead just drilled and drilled until he found the stud.  Fabulous.  

And so we got a patchin'....

And repainted the wall (Benjamin Moore Rockport Grey).

Then we stared at the blank wall for a few days (while our glasses sat in the closet - not very efficient) debating what type of shelves we wanted.  After looking at way too many pictures of open shelving on Pinterest, I landed on stainless steel.  I liked the industrial/restauranty look that it would add to our kitchen.

Luck was on our side, as my Mom had actually just moved into a new house that was chalk full of stainless steel shelves that she couldn't wait to tear out.  So 4 stainless steel shelves came home with us (originally from Ikea) for free (yippie).

Once we had the tile finished, we hung the shelves.  

I had originally thought that we'd use 3 shelves, but after living with 2 for a couple of days I gave up on the 3rd shelf.  It would have been so high that only Mr. Swell could reach it, and I need our kitchen to be all about practicality.

And then I was able to finally take our glasses out of the closet and show off some of our pretty kitchen stuff.  

I apologize for the quality of these pictures.  My camera hates taking pictures when there is a window in the shot.  I am working on it....hopefully I'll have the window issue mastered by the time we get to the big reveal.

I am now on the search for something to hang on the wall above the top shelf.  We need something to fill the space - I am thinking a picture or art piece.

I can't wait to show you how they look with the rest of the cabinets.  Have to wait for the final reveal for that though....

How about you? Do you have any open shelving in your kitchen?  I am worried about keeping it tidy all the time....and keeping our glasses spotless (looking at the spots will drive me nuts). Any tips?

22 Jun 2012

Blog Housekeeping

I've been doing a little housekeeping around these parts over the past couple of days.  

Check out the new Projects page.

Even with my very limited HTML coding skills I managed to finally figure out how to add thumbnails for each project (I am still smiling about it!).  I've even added a new Home Improvement category to show all of the recent projects we've been conquering (painting a door, tiling, etc) that didn't seem to have a place on the old page.  I'll try my darndest to keep the page updated for you.  Hopefully it will be easier than searching through the archives if you are wanting to reference a particular post.

If you are another blogger and are interested in the details on how I did it, please drop me a line and I will be happy to share. 

While we are here maybe you can indulge me in a little self promotion??? Did you know that a Swell Place to Dwell is on Facebook and Twitter?  If you click on the little buttons to the right it will connect you right to the pages.

I post updates and pictures on Facebook and Twitter that I haven't had a chance to blog about yet.  I also post links to each of the posts on the day that they are published (come on....I know you wouldn't ever want to miss a post....).

If you do 'like' A Swell Place to Dwell on Facebook and you want to receive updates in your news feed please make sure to check the 'Show in News Feed' option.  Facebook has recently made changes and for some reason updates won't appear in your news feed unless you chose the option.  Once you 'like' the page, then hover your mouse over the 'like' button and a menu will drop down where you can select 'Show in News Feed'

And lastly, did you know that you can subscribe to receive posts via email?  Enter your email address, confirm the subscription and voila - A Swell Place to Dwell will hit your inbox whenever I publish.  Please rest assured, your email address is secure and spam won't make it's way to you through the subscription.

I'll leave you with this picture that I posted on Facebook earlier this week.  This is how our garage is looking these days.  So. Sick. Of. White. Paint.  

Catch a glimpse of the kitchen island? It's getting an overhaul.  I'll have it ready to share with you next week.

20 Jun 2012

The Kitchen: Tile Backsplash

After two days of tiling (during Fin's naps and after she goes to bed only - not full days), we managed to get our new backsplash installed. I am not going to make you read through the whole post to get to the big tile reveal.  I'm giving it to you right now.....

What do you think? 

Thanks for all of your opinions when I posed the question on if we should go straight set or offset.  I posted the question over on Hometalk as well and the answer was a resounding offset.  I have to be honest, I was leaning towards straight set but after so many people said to go offset, I was swayed.  It was important to us that we do something that will appeal to a buyer down the road, so in this case majority ruled.

Remember what it looked like before? Thank God that one row of ugly white tile is gone.

Big change, right? I think so!  The paint on the bottom cabinet doors is still on the to-do list.  We haven't managed to get much painting time in over the past few days, so we still have 2 coats to go (the priming is done) and then the 5 days of curing.

There are a million videos on youtube on how to lay tile, so I am not going to repeat all the steps here again.  What I am going to share, are some of the tips and tricks that we have learned - all through our own trial and error.  Tiling isn't as easy as it looks (or at least I don't think so).  When you watch DIY shows and they just slap up a tile wall in about 4 seconds it looks like it's totally a piece of cake.  Let me tell you - it doesn't happen that fast! There is tons of cutting and measuring....and if you are sleep deprived parents like we are, that takes a lot of brain power and math skills we haven't used in a very long time.

Hopefully these tips will save you some frustration if you are embarking on your own tiling project.

First up is planning.  It's important....really important.  You first have to decide what the focal point of your space is, and then make sure that the tile is centered there.  I hate this step - it causes me a lot of stress.  Mr. Swell and I plan things very differently so we often end up each doing our own thing and then hoping that they match when we show them to each other.  In our case, the focal point of the room is above the stove, so we wanted to make sure that the vertical grout line was centred in the opening below the hood fan.  We actually drew out the whole wall to scale on graph paper.

Yes, we did this old school.....no computers.

Then we marked the centre of the opening with a pencil line and made sure to line up the start of each row along that line.  We worked from the pencil line out to each of the corners.

Cover your countertop with a drop cloth and tape it around the edges.  It may seem like a waste of time since most everything will wipe off of the counter, but believe me, this is a huge time saver in the end.  When you slop thin set on the counter you can just ignore it and move on without worrying that it will dry and you will be scraping it off later (I've scraped...it sucks).

If you have any area that doesn't have countertop (like behind our stove), screw a board in level with the countertop so that you have something to set the tile up against.  This will save you from worrying that the tile is going to slide down the wall (trust me, I have willed tile not to slide down the wall before and it's no fun!).

Do everything in your power to get your hands on a tile saw.  They are priceless.  This is the first tile project that we've been lucky enough to have access to a saw for and it saved us tons of time.  It's much easier than using a tile scorer and nibbler tool.  The saw makes the cuts for the plugs way easier and saves having to deal with splicing together tile.  You can always rent one if buying isn't in the budget.

Template, template, template.  Our tile came with tissue paper between each tile, so it was there and handy to use when I needed to template around a plug or window.  You can use the tissue paper to mark the opening you will need to cut, and can then flip it over and place it on the back of the tile to draw your cuts. 

And lastly, if you have a big area to grout, make use of 2 people.  One person can apply the grout and then the other person can follow 15 minutes later and sponge.  We had a pretty big area to grout, so it took longer than 15 minutes to apply all of the grout.  Having the second person follow behind with the sponge saved us from having to break from applying the grout and risking the mixed grout drying up.

Oh, and also....try not to get too much grout on the walls (clearly we were failing at that).  Grout and wall paint don't mix great and it's a total nuisance to get off if it dries even just a little bit.

Just for fun, here's a few pictures showing our tiling progress over the 2 days. 

I am so happy with it.  This little kitchen of ours is starting to look like something special!

Linking to: Remodelaholic

18 Jun 2012

Like It He Did

We worked on the kitchen like mad this past weekend.  The tile backsplash took us 2 days, but is now done and it looks amazing. I have about a million photos to edit, and once I find some time to sit down and go through them I will show you all how amazing it looks (if I do say so myself!).  

We did take a break from all of the kitchen work yesterday though to celebrate Mr. Swell's first Father's Day.  This was his gift from Fin.

In a post a while back I told you how Mr. Swell can drop an accent at any time. He can do pretty much any accent that you'd like on request at the drop of a hat. One of his best is Yoda. There is a lot of Yoda talk that goes on in this household.  Needless to say, he's a big Star Wars fan.

We'd been looking for little stick figures for the back window of the car for some time (yup, jumping on that bandwagon...) but they all just seemed so generic.  That is, until I found these ones.  They are pretty awesome, aren't they?  He loved them, and that's all that matters in our house.

If you also have a Star Wars lover in your life, you can score your own family stickers here.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

15 Jun 2012

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming

I envy people who can go with the flow.  I am not one of them.  I don't flow. I like plans, routines, dependability.  It took me a long time to admit that I am not easy going, but I am there now - I can admit it.  Don't get me wrong, at the right time and place I can let loose and just see where things take me, but for the most part I like to know what's next.  This week has tested my go-with-the-flowness (I know it's not a real word but I couldn't find a better one).

This is the state of our kitchen right now. I want the doors back on more than you can imagine. Every night we tidy up the kitchen and do all of the dishes, but it still just looks like a mess without doors.  Dry paint, dry!

Remember the tile that we had picked out for the backsplash?  It was 4X16 grey matte tile.

I liked it....a lot.  I had been staring at the 5 sample tiles we had for weeks and was ready to buy the full lot. Saturday there was a 15% off sale at Rona, so we headed out after the triathlon to go pick up our tile.  I had a list of what we needed and how much it was going to cost us.  We grabbed a cart, strapped Fin in and headed towards the tile aisle.  When we round the corner to the aisle we could clearly see that the shelves where our tile used to be were cleared out. What? No tile? No....they must have some in the back. They had at least 6 boxes a few days ago. So I go track down someone who can look it up in the system.  He takes one look at the sample tile we have in our hands and tells us right away that the tile is discontinued and they aren't getting any more.  NOOOOOO!!!!  I asked him (quite nicely for how angry I was) to check the other stores in Edmonton - surely someone must have some left. Store after store he kept telling me no. Nobody had the 4 boxes we needed. I had to keep repeating to myself to not sweat the small stuff....it's only tile...no big deal....but really all I wanted to do was rip the guy's head off. We planned the kitchen around that freaking tile! The guy suggested another similar tile. Ya, it was ok, but it was more than $3 a tile. The one we wanted was $1.80.  We weren't ready to spend double what we had planned. After a bit more self talk I put my happy face on, thanked the guy and walked out - tileless.

The next morning we started calling all the Rona stores around Edmonton. I didn't believe the guy that every store was sold out. After a bit of calling one very helpful lady finally told us that yes, that tile was discontinued but they had replaced it with a similar one that was glossy instead of matte.  Thank God!  We made the drive into the city to check out the tile that very morning so that I could stop panicking (I know now how ridiculous it was that I was even panicking in the first place, but I sure was pissed at the time). Our local store apparently just didn't have it in stock yet - and were completely unaware that it was even coming. The tile was great - it was the same colour as what we had picked before, but just shiny. I actually liked it better. And the best part was that instead of being $1.80 a tile, it was only $1.60.  The lower price made up slightly for the fact that we had missed out on the 15% sale the day before.  Here's the new tile.

It doesn't look any different than the first tile does it? I know. It's basically the same! YAY! Crisis narrowly averted.

I also had big plans to share an art work project for the office with you this week. The fact that I am babbling on in this post should be a hint that it didn't work out too well.  It started out great. I had this big picture....

And this big canvas.....

The two just needed to go together.  Piece of cake.  Umm....or not. Two hours and almost a whole bottle of Mod Podge later, I had this....

Where's the picture, you ask? Ya, I don't know either.  It got wet and soggy, and ripped, and I had Mod Podge stuck in my hair, and all I ended up with was a big blank coral canvas.  Now, if I was a go with the flow person I would just come up with something new on the fly and it would be even better than what I had planned. That didn't happen. The plain coral canvas is still sitting in the basement a week later.  I am hoping if I stare at it long enough something brilliant will hit me over the head.

How about you? Are you a go-with-the-flower?

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