Wednesday, May 28, 2014

hand-painted dresser

I decided recently that I was tired of having my non-hanging clothes in bins on the floor of my closet or in big unorganized drawers under my bed. This just let to lots of crouching on the floor digging through a mess and I wanted to be a bit more grown up. And grown ups have furniture in which their clean clothes are folded. So when the opportunity presented itself, I scooped up this really simple Ikea dresser. It was the perfect size for my closet and provided more than enough space for everything and I was very happily organized.
However I'm not much of a naked pine person. I love the look of raw wood in theory, and I do have some beautiful wood pieces (namely my raw and very distressed headboard) but in this instance it wasn't really working for me. But I wanted to avoid spending any money and I do have this cupboard full  of paint in the kitchen (I know-not the best place but it's where I have space) so I went digging around there and decided to try this medium gray from the living room. I believe it's BM Black Pepper but I'm not entirely sure. It looked nice enough (after five coats because this wood really soaked the paint in) but still boring. And for  big, tall, piece that's the first thing you see in the closet, I wanted something more interesting.
So while I was making waffles on Monday (yay for three day weekends) I was looking at various inspiration images I had saved, and I kept coming back to some elaborate decorative inlaid shell or bone pieces. I really liked the organic and natural look of them. I though about mapping something out, with math and grids and all of that, but in the end I just free handed a simple little leafy motif. It's more comfortable (not to mention fun) for me to work that way, and it allowed for each drawer to be a little bit different. 
I did measure the boarder, since I wanted a little space between the design drawer to drawer, though I free handed that line as well. Then it was just a very tiny brush, a teacup full of white trim paint, and several pots of tea.

After I finished all five drawers I put them all back in and looked at the piece together. But it felt like there was still too much gray space inbetween, so I decided to add a geometric boarder around the edge of each, and this time I used painters tape to get a straight line but honestly I feel that neither technique produced a cleaner line, so no conclusion there.
And here it is with the final boarder. I did a small fan shape in all four corners to mimic the flower in the center, then a combination of triangle and diamond shapes. I particularly like the mix of straight lines with all the organic leafy shapes, though of course my 'straight lines' are a fair amount more wobbly than if they were cut from shell/bone.
Here is the finished dresser

Totally time consuming but overall very satisfying. This was actually a very meditative and therapeutic project, and then of course so satisfying to walk by each day and see my handiwork.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Anthro inspired hardware diy

I was casually scrolling through Anthropologie's selection of hardware online looking for ideas for my new dresser when I stumbled upon these bone and brass beauties. I loved the shape and the mix of materials but I didn't really want to spend near $150 on knobs no matter how pretty when that's significantly more than the whole dresser cost! But the image of these knobs kept rolling around in my head. So, naturally, I went to the hardware store, because I figured, if I could make something similar/inspired by the original Anthro ones, the solution would be at the hardware store.
After some experimenting I came up with a plan. I used stainless eyebolts, various sized nuts, wooden dowels and air drying clay. Along with paint of course.
First I cut the dowels down and sanded the ends.
Then I covered them in the thinnest possible layer of clay. There was a bit of trial and error on this step, as the dowels we significantly smaller than the eye bolts so they needed something to fit them to the space, but of course not so much that they then wouldn't fit at all.
After the dowels were coated (and I'd made sure they fit) I added a bit of texture. This varied from piece to piece but I definitely liked it better than the smooth flat surface. It also made wooden dowels look a bit more natural.
Then I let everything dry overnight.
After that it was just paint and glue. I sprayed the eye bolts and nuts gold, and when they were dry I added the dowels, which I painted with high gloss white. Of course the pretty new hardware couldn't go onto the plain naked pine dresser, so I did something crazy and obsessive with paint (sneak peek below) to make a more interesting home for my new creations. More on that later. For now I'm just super excited that I was able to create a replacement for a mere $1 a piece, much more reasonable!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fresh fan

I just wasn't going to get anything together in time for Monday after the craziness that is Bay to Breakers this weekend, but I do have this little paint project to share today. As Friday's photo hinted at, I broke out the spray paint, yet again, for another project. It's such an easy fix that I fear I've become pretty reliant on. But it's just so easy to make something look new, and often more 'me' by changing the color.
It was very hot most of last week which meant it was time to pull out my fan. This tiny piece is actually very strong and it's nice it's so compact but I always cringed at the look of it. I am not a black appliance person, and I didn't like that the logo was front and center either.
So I took a look at my spray paint collection and decided to try out this very retro minty green. It was fairly simple to take the fan apart. There were a few tense moments when I wasn't sure if I'd be able to unscrew the fan blades but I eventually figured it out. Then I taped off the cord and the motor mechanism and went to town. I had to get a bit strategic to get all the angles but after a bit I had gotten three good coats on.

Then it was just a matter of letting it dry thoroughly and reassembling. It's a small thing, and it certainly does nothing to improve the functionality of this fan but it makes me happy to have been able to turn something of an eyesore into a cute little accessory which also does wonders in cooling down the tropical hothouse that my studio becomes in the mid afternoon.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Finishing #100happydays

On  Monday I completed the 100 happy days project. I've collected all of the photos here and it's very interesting to see what was most popular. I had twenty two pictures of food (obviously eating delicious things makes me very happy) and only five of drinks or beverages. There are seven pictures of my feet and fourteen of things that I am working on, or projects in process.
I decided the day after finishing that I liked the motivation behind this project (documenting some moment of happiness in every day) so much that I wanted to continue somehow. So I am going to try for a whole year of happy days. I'm calling it #onehappyyear and I am hopeful that if I can collect one hundred happy moments that I will also be able to make it to 365. So here's to that!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Quick fix for a clean space

Back when I was painting my desk there was one part I didn't tackle, the top. I did some research and it seemed like I was going to have to do a lot of sanding, several coats of paint and then several coats of some sort of clear coat to seal the whole thing, all with copious amounts of drying time inbetween. This would mean having my desk out of commission for at least a few days but probably closer to a week. So I put it off. And continued to procrastinate, all while casually thinking in the back of my head, that it would be awesome if there was another option. And then it came to me when I was cutting out circles for my hallway, contact paper. 

As you can see in the above picture, the top of my desk was big piece of old counter top. Very sturdy and strong but it was roughly in the band-aid color family, and had become pretty dingy from years of use/abuse. There were all sorts of odd stains and such. I sanded the whole thing vigorously and cleaned it before applying the contact paper.

The whole process was fairly easy. I carried the white paint up over the edge of the desktop and then I trimmed the contact paper down to approximately the right length for the desk. Then I peeled the backing off of one side and lined it up with the edge and smoothed out the air bubbles as I moved along the length of the desk. I did a full sheet at the front of the desktop so that I would have the seam in the back. Then I cut down the second piece to a narrower width and repeated the same process. I had to do some creative patchwork around the lamp base and my little outlet port but the business of the pattern made it work quite well.


I held off writing about this for a while because I wanted to see how well it wore with regular use. I often drag my computer and sewing machine around to various parts of the work space, this weekend I did a bunch of printing. I wanted to see if the surface could be cleaned easily and avoided looking gross and beat up like the original did. So far it has held up beautifully. I'm a little concerned that this pattern is too much for a workspace, but I am going to try it out for a while. The only cost was the $5 roll of contact paper and it took less than an hour so I'm thinking when it eventually starts to look worn, I can easily replace with something else fun. Perhaps faux marble?

Funnily it hardly looks different from straight on, especially with the glare from the window reflecting off of it, but it makes all the difference to me while I am sitting there working. Though it is easy to loose my pins in the pattern! Will have to be careful f that I guess.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

admitting mistakes

It's hard when you love the idea of something, and you put time and thought and money into making it a reality..... and it doesn't end up being as good an idea s you thought. It feels like admitting defeat to change it or even acknowledge that it may not be working. Such was the case with my apartments hallway. This is both a really cool space (how many San Francisco apartments have big wide entryway/hallways?)  but also a challenging one (seven doors, all different kinds, and the big double open entry to the living room) and I had this amazing and fun and exciting idea to paint it this bright juicy melon color plus a pattern to liven it up a bit and make it bright and inviting.
See below:
Unfortunately this didn't end up working out as well as it did in my mind. With all the trim and doors, the actual wall spaces are few and small and separated by doors and so much thick bright white trim. It drove me crazy but I also felt awful that my initial idea hadn't panned out, and guilty about wasting time and money just to paint over it. But I decided it was driving me more crazy being the wrong color and all (and I remembered that the orange paint had been free) so when I found myself with a half gallon of clean bright white left after I painted the bedroom studio, and my roommate was out house-sitting, I figured why not keep this party going, it was only midnight and I still had lots of pizza left so......
It took four coats of paint to cover up the orange (and the hand stamped arrows liked to bleed through) but I perceived and when I walked through the hallway the next morning and it was bright and clean and the sun was bouncing around it I knew I had made the right choice. Even if it was fueled by frustration and paint fumes!
Of course that next morning the space didn't look quite like this, it was just flat white without the pattern. I knew I wanted to keep the fun element of pattern and the idea of wallpaper in that space, to make it seem less blank, but I spent a while debating different shapes. I had both the wood grain and black contact papers on hand so I cut out a variety of shapes which eventually boiled down to triangles and round medallions and then it was decided that the dots would be best, so I set to work cutting a bunch out......

...and sticking them to the wall. I tried being precise and accurate and using a ruler and marking the wall and all of that but after five minutes I realized even with all that it wouldn't be perfect so why not just eyeball the whole thing and it still ended up pretty even. The narrow spaces of wall made it easier to space out the dots than I imagine it would be on huge wide open walls.
I am super happy with the change. It was well worth the time, and a few extra hours of painting. As to the pattern, it used materials I had on hand and is very easy to remove and change down the line if I so desire so I feel like this will be a much better and more welcoming space in my apartment that it was before. I was also ale to squeeze in a bit of new show storage by switching my dressing room bench for the trunk! Cheers to that.

Monday, May 5, 2014


There were a lot of mimosas consumed this weekend (particularly that wonderful brunch mainstay in the bottomless variety) and I also did some experimenting in the bar myself.
When my parents visited briefly last week my mom brought me some fresh rosemary which I made into rosemary simple syrup. Yesterday evening I created a new cocktail using the syrup and a random smattering of things I had on hand.
1.5 oz gin
3/4 oz st germain
3/4 oz rosemary syrup
3/4 oz orange juice
shake together and strain into glass over ice, top with ginger beer and a piece of orange peel (and or a sprig of rosemary if I'd had any remaining. 
It's surprisingly refreshing and the spicy herbiness paired well with a particularly juicy orange.