Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Random Spring Things

I planted a cutting garden on the south side of the house last fall. It gets great sun over there, but it is such a small space and it's not used for much other than storing the garbage cans.

These beautiful tulips are the first bounty of my new cutting garden. They are so perfect!

We are hosting the Easter celebration this year. So, today I started thinking about the table and the menu. I think we're going to go with a moss, flowers, and fluff theme on the table. I got this moss ball at Michael's with a 40% off coupon- I think it cost about $2.50. The urn I already had.

The chicks are also from Michael's. I think I'll make napkin rings with them.

Other sunroom progress.

I decided I don't like or need long heavy curtains, so I took down the burlap panels and washed them. Now they are going to be table cloths :)

I made these pillows. After much deliberation about whether to use the sheep-zebra skins to make pillows I decided to go a little lighter and whipped these up. I'm not sure if I'm loving them though.

I got my first new pair of sunglasses in about 8 years. I'm not one for paying for a name brand, but these are Kate Spade and I got them for $30. They are polarized and I actually think they make my vision better. Do I look stylish or like a big goof?.....

This is a self portrait taken this past weekend at the National Kite Festival. We had a lot of fun. It was a beautiful day to be outside and especially fun flying kites.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eight Weeks vs. Eight Hours?....

You know I've been taking an upholstery class now for eight weeks. Last Saturday was supposed to be the last class, but it got rescheduled (I guess to this Sat).

I've been really frustrated that the process to learn how to upholster a chair is taking so long. In fact, I was thinking of not even going to the last class since it's clear that I won't finish the chair.

After eight weeks this is where I am with the chair.

However, it turns out that I've learned enough to wing-it on a old french wingback chair. In eight hours I went from this

to this.

I still have to make the cushion (right now I just wrapped the fabric around the down cushion it came with. I also have to put the trim on which I've learned is just hot glued on.

So after much deliberation I've decided it wasn't a complete waste taking this class. I've got enough know-how now and the tools to wing it on any other chairs going forward. They won't last for 300 years which is always the goal of our instructor. But they'll be good enough for us.

Sunroom progress

Oh Boy! I've made a lot of progress on the sunroom. I'm not ready to show you the whole picture, but here are some shots to give you a flavor

It's not turning out to be the white room I originally talked about. It's a lot lighter, but I just couldn't upholster a chair in white--too risky. It's not too late for me to paint the frame white. What do you think I should do?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The dresser that I just can't part with

This week I dabbled in furniture painting.
There are countless blogs that cover this topic regularly.
For some it's their sole topic.

What I learned in doing this was that Monkey Grass Hill will NOT be a blog about furniture painting projects. It's messy, slow, you really have to take your time to do it well, if you don't have a garage the weather has to be just right, and I could go on and on about why I won't be doing this anymore (unless it's spray paint).

I spent lot of time researching, purchasing and returning high tech equipment recommended by one of the most popular furniture painting blogs. It was just getting too costly and complicated. I don't have the space to store that stuff either.

So my painting project was on a little dresser I've had since I was in college. My mom got it at Goodwill I think. I'm sure it was very cheap. It was perfect for the tiny little attic dormer room I lived in my last year of school. It worked great in the next few bedrooms I had in group houses. It went to stay with my sister for a few years. It came back to me when we moved into this house. It's moved from room to room even spending some time in a closet and most recently was in my office. There is really nothing great about it. It's simple. The drawers stick and make a horrible squeaking noise when you open them and the hardware was falling off. I was ready to put it at the curb. But then we had our TV mounted on the wall in the sunroom a few months ago. And I thought, those top drawers are just the right size for the cable box and the dvd box.

So I decided I would use it, but that I needed to make it as inconspicuous as possible by painting it to blend into the walls. This played into my white decor scheme perfectly too.

I primed it and gave it two coats of paint

Changed the hardware

Filled the drawers with Drew's toys and put it under the TV (notice March Madness on the screen) and zebra head.

Honestly, the drawers are sticking even more now, so I don't know if it will be with us very much longer--can I shake it once and for all?....

Monday, March 15, 2010

Just Say Faux To Zebra - Sunroom redo part II

There are very few things that I would prefer to go the faux route on. I cringe at fake flowers and plants. I've mentioned before that I like the old furniture because it's REAL wood (not fake composite). I tried the flameless candles this past holiday season--Hated them!

I eat meat, I own some antlers (they have not been incorporated into our decor).

I wear vintage mink collars.
I've been searching for a vintage leopard coat for years.

But I draw the line with zebra skin rugs? I guess my feeling is, that if it's vintage I'm recycling and if it's an animal we ea,t any byproduct such as fur or hide is OK. And, as far as I know zebra is not a meat commonly eaten.

Is my logic flawed?

I'm crazy for black and white. I love animal prints, I love the impact when a designer puts a zebra skin rug on top of a seagrass rug or under a coffee table. I think the zebra hide stools/benches are very chic. There seems to be a lot of zebra in magazines lately.

When I started working on the sunroom I really wanted to bring nature in. But, I just can't feel good looking at beautiful room knowing that the zebra was killed just for decor. Don't get me wrong, I really like them because I think the zebra is a beautiful animal. I'm not judging anyone else who has one. I just don't want to have one in my house. So for me, I just say Faux to zebra prints.

This week I found something that I feel gives the impact but won't give me the guilt.

It's a sheep skin painted to look like zebra. I found it at Ikea, and I love it. (Poor little lamb.) I reconcile this by believing that the lamb was eaten. I know it's crazy, but it makes me feel better to believe that the little guy was actually raised for wool and meat. Then at a ripe old age his pelt was repurposed and shipped off to Ikea to bring joy and pleasure to a family of three in Virginia.

Are YOU buying it?....

In addition to my zebra print lamb, I have this cool paper mache zebra head. I bought this mask for Drew's animal themed bedroom three years ago at the flea market. This week he said it scared him. He felt like he was being watched by a wild animal. Frankly, I'm surprised it took him this long to develop a fear of it. I always tried to keep it out his sightline while in bed. I think it's cute, so now he's part of our sunroom.

I'm really happy with the way this sunroom is coming together. Matt and Drew have both given it the stamp of approval too.

Related items: The mid century modern chairs are headed over to the Treasure Shop tomorrow morning. Hopefully a friend will be by to pick up the sideboard sometime this week.

More photos of the sunroom progress coming soon.

Thanks for checking in with me today.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Easter Bunny Welcome Here!

This project has to be one of the easiest, least expensive, most satisfying for kids, and the best part--no mess!

Drew has been very excited about getting our Easter decorations up. The very small window where we took down our Valentine decorations and this week when we started preparing for Easter was tough for the little guy.

Easter Egg Wreath

So here is the what you need to for the easter egg tree.
  • Store bought eggs. (We went with sparkly ones from HomeGoods. The package came with the little ribbon bows and was only $4.99.)
  • Tree branches
  • Newspaper/rocks
  • Urn or some kind of vase or pot
  • Sheet moss (optional)

We put one of Drew's worm toys in the base to be silly

Secure your branches in your vessel with rocks or balled up newspaper.
Hang eggs
Place moss on top of newspaper
Enjoy your festive easter tree.

As for some of our other decorations

You've heard that catchy little saying, "you break 'em you buy 'em"? Well that's how these little bunnies ended up finding a home. They are cute, but I probably wouldn't have bought them.

The Treasure Shop (my favorite thrift store) had just gotten them in. I dropped a bag and one of the five broke, so I bought them.

An older woman who was recently widowed had just dropped off several baskets of hand painted easter decorations in little zip lock baggies. Those bags can be slippery when you're in a hurry:)

Our newest tradition is to drape a garland for each holiday. You can't really see them, but there are eggs nestled in the feathers. Matt was curious what the significance of feathers was to Easter--chicks of course!

The beautiful tulips were a little surprise from Matt on Sunday. It made my day!

I'm happy to say, Drew is now content that we are appropriately prepared for the coming of the Easter bunny. He is very excited about spring because this is the time of egg hunts and what else? Candy.

Thanks for checking in with me today!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Freshening Up the Sunroom

I've been inspired by all the blogs featuring the french look and the shabby chic all white look. Although I love the look of those rooms, it's not really me or how I live. So, I've been trying to figure out how I interpret these looks into my house. I selected the sunroom for this "white look" redo.

After writing this post, one of the best bloggers Cote de Texas did this one and it's the look and feel I want to capture in my room. Of course I'll be trying to do it myself at a fraction of the cost. I love the way she does white and animal prints in such a classic way. Fun and functional. I think I have a lot of the same elements already, but they need to be reworked.

Sunroom mish-mash

I like the rug I had before, but I found it to be a little limiting in terms of what I could do with colors and style. Too much brown in such a bright and cheerful room! I want to be able to change the look in this room a simple change of pillow or accessories.

This past fall we installed a heating and cooling unit in the room to convert it from a three season room to a full fledged part of our house. That was the best decisions we've made. We're still struggling to stop calling it a porch and call it a sunroom instead.

Now, with spring just around the corner and our cool new patio and planting right outside the sunroom door, I'm absolutely busting at the seems to make the room more beautiful and functional.
One recent morning there were about 20 Robins drinking from the pond.
This is the view from my sunroom

The room is all windows, so you're surrounded with nature. I'm thinking a very neutral color will help you focus on the beauty outside. It was really cool during the recent snow storms, we could sit out there, be surrounded by falling snow but stay warm.

Record snowfall. Snow above the window bottom/higher than the sofa back

I really like the simplicity of the white rooms and painted furniture and I'm excited to try it for myself. However, I find ivory or off white more soothing than bright white, so when I say white, I really mean ivory.

Yesterday I got an ivory 8X10 Jute rug at West Elm. I couldn't believe the price $175. I just pulled these pillows out of our living room. They won't stay in here.

My sunroom redo part one--new rug and ottoman

I'm hoping the chair I'm currently upholstering is going to look like this Mitchell Gold chair. I'm doing it in ivory velvet. Hopefully it will replace the old green club chair I've had since I was single.

I found this ottoman today at Home Goods, and I think it will work nicely, if I have a slipcover made for it. It's a weird green and has ugly fake nail heads. For now I just threw a blanket over it to see how it would look in ivory. I was toying with the idea of slipcovering it in a green zebra fabric that I've been looking at for months at the fabric store. I'm sure I'll go the safe neutral way. Instead make zebra pillows...

The mid-century chairs I got last week have been vetoed by Matt and Drew. So, they'll be headed over to the Treasure Shop and hopefully I can get back what I spent on them. Now I'm thinking maybe I'll get some wicker chairs and then have linen slip covers made for them too.

I'm curious to know what you think of this change. Am I headed in the right direction? Have I lost my marbles going with such light colors with a little boy and a dog?

Thanks for checking in with me today!


What's My Time Worth? Is DIY really the way to go?...

It's been a while since I've updated you on my upholstery class and chair status.

For the last week I've been feeling really deflated. I've been trying to figure out what my time is worth. I spend a lot of time looking for the deals. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how I'll rework them once I find them. Then I spend a lot of time actually doing the work.

So, I've been asking myself the question: Is it worth it to do it myself?

After six classes this is as far as I've gotten.
The teacher said I'm not going to finish before the class is over.

There are soooo many layers and components in a chair-- who knew?
7 more layers from this stage

This was all brought about after a frustrating day in upholstery class. It turns out that I've invested A LOT of money in learning how to upholster a chair (although I'm not even half-way done yet and it looks like my chair has some deterioration that compromises it's structural stability). I can't even get into my office because I bought the materials like fiber filling, cotton batting and jute in bulk. The box of fiber alone is the size of a dinner table- no joke. The staple gun cost $225 and then the staples cost another $17. Then it turns out I have to buy another size of staples for the next stage. Then there is the fabric. But the biggest question of all is, will I do it well?
This is what fiber filling looks like.
It's way better than foam, and not as expensive
as horse hair (which is the ultimate filler).

While I was tying the springs last week a shopper from the store walked in and said, "wow, that's the hardest thing in the world to do!" I responded, "really, this is the hardest thing, I guess I should have looked into being a brain surgeon instead--more money there:)"

Instead of working on a project yesterday I was looking for some inspiration and retail therapy, so I popped into Crate and Barrel. Instead of sinking further into my furniture funk, I felt revitalized. When I felt the back of one of their chairs I could tell, it wasn't well made. It was not padded enough, the fabric was already showing signs of wear because of it.

So I'm back in the game. You didn't even know I ever left it did you?

Since originally drafting this post, I picked up another chair that needs to be completely redone springs and all and I'm gluing a part of the broken frame now-- these old chairs just kind of call out to me. You can't really tell what you're dealing with until you take them apart unfortunately. By that time, I'm invested and want to finish it.

I knew learning and doing upholstery would be hard work but I'm having fun. The up side is that once the tools are paid for, the cost per chair will go down and I'll get better so it won't take so long. I also have to remember that I picked the hardest possible chair to learn on. From now on, I'll avoid the ones that have to be stripped down to the frame. Then rebuilt from the springs up.

Or not, since now I have a total of three chairs stripped down to their frames and not one completed yet with only two classes left. I might have to register for another session...

But that's not going to happen now that the sun is shining. Soon I'll be writing posts about my garden, pond/fountain project and entertaining outside.

Thanks for checking in with me today!