Monday, September 28, 2015

Kitchen reveal!

The journey to finish or at least 'finish' the kitchen in my apartment has been a long one. It is easily the space with the most limitations, and the most funky, old building I will call them quirks, though there are probably less cute sounding words I could use. So I've had trouble coming up with a plan for the room, despite knowing it needed to be fixed up since the first moment I moved in. This is how it looked when I showed up.

My roommate is definitely a have-things-out-where-you-can-see-them sort of person while I'm a put-it-away-where-the-clutter-can-be-out-of-sight kind of gal, so there's a certain amount of clashing there. But I think even he agreed that this first pass I did where I just moved the microwave and toaster oven and cleaned up the counters a bit, was already much better and brighter feeling. But after living with that for another year, well it just seemed like I could still do better, despite the limitations. So when I got the all clear to paint the floors it seemed like the time to really make everything else work.
And now it looks like this! To me this really speaks to the powers of paint. The cabinets are still old and wonky and all of the old building quirks are there. But it is so much cleaner and brighter, and the fun of the pattern really makes the space seem much more special to me. 

Even the almost-black accent wall works since everything else is so white or light. On it's own it's a dramatic backdrop for colorful dishes and glasses, and with the rest of the room, it sort of provides a nice pause, and makes the prep table and fridge feel like a separate space. 

Again, here is a before, and also a during image. The yellow was fine, but especially when paired with the dingy yellowed floors, gave the room a sort of sallow feeling I just couldn't shake. 

I also did a bit of cart switching, putting the wooden kitchen cart in the living room where it fits perfectly as a bar cart, and wheeling my little industrial cart in next to the door where it's much narrower sized doesn't block the cabinet door from swinging open. I think eventually I would like to replace this with some tall industrial shelves for dishes and such, but for now, this is something that I already have, and it ties into the stainless work table so it seems to fit better. Now I want to hang out here all the time. It feels like an easy space, but not a cookie cutter kitchen at all. 

All of the various projects in this room have been cataloged in great detail here already so if you want to see more there's the floors how to here, the accent wall here, painting the cabinets here, and the interiors here, and the pattern on the glass fronts here, oh and the refrigerator door handle (small change big impact) here. And I will just wrap up with a few more photos since I took too many because I'm so happy with how it looked. Also please excuse the accidental ankle selfie in the one below!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Painting an old kitchen floor..... and pattern!

If I were asked to name one thing in my apartment that I liked the least and would change if I could, I would say the kitchen floor. It is hard to convey in photographs just how terrible it is because it is partially a feel thing, it's just so old it's perpetually sticky, and it's also become discolored and, well, plain icky feeling. It might have been nice once but now it's an endless frustration of constant cleaning and yet never feeling or looking clean. The landlord wasn't interested in replacing it, and in fact, my roommate tells me years ago when it was peeling at the edges she installed a little additional trim at the baseboard to cover it up rather than putting in new linoleum, so I've been living with it and loathing it for two years. Until now.

After talking some about paying to replace it ourselves and doing research into cost, I ran the idea of painting the floor by my roommate, and though tentative, he was interested. He shares my disappointment in the floor and has been living with it for longer, so he gave me the all clear with the only request being that it be gray paint. And so we scheduled a weekend where we could both deal with having minimum to no access to the kitchen and I started to gather supplies.
In all my research into painting old floors, especially old linoleum tile or tile look floors like mine, everyone had used floor and porch paint (designed for being outdoor and being walked on) and some had used a sealant of some kind but most just let the paint stand up to wear and tear itself.
Luckily my local hardware store had floor paint, and was able to mix it in any color I wanted, so I picked a lighter gray on the paint chip with deep space, the dark dark gray on the kitchen wall, figuring I should keep my grays in the same family. I also got an extender pole for the paint roller and a new short handled angled brush (mine has finally started looking funky after two years of painting all the rooms so I decided it was time) and pulled together inspiration online.
I have always wanted a checkerboard floor but was struggling with it being gray and black or gray and white instead of black and white. That just didn't seem right but as gray was Charlie's only request and he goes along with my whims so much without complaint or comment I figured it needed to be kept as the base.
It was actually my papa who made the lightbulb inducing suggestion. He said what about a pattern with a stencil. And then I looked back through my pinterest and realized of course, I've been pinning images of patterned floors for years. I love to look of elaborate tiles but just figured they were always a dream as they are pricy and also, you know, I'm in a rental, but what a great opportunity for experimenting. Besides if it didn't work out I could just paint over and keep the floor solid gray.
So I played around a bit with designs and did some tests on the old floor with spray paint, and I looked forward to the first scheduled day of floor painting with excitement and trepidation.
I started by moving everything but the fridge and stove out of the room and cleaning the floor twice. Then I painted around the edge. With the first few strokes of paint I knew that this was going to work out okay because the coverage was amazing, and the edges and corners already look a million times cleaner and nicer. The freshly painted white cabinets looked better next to the gray floor as well. 

The next step was the most fun. I got to pour a bucket of paint onto my floor. The first coat was definitely the most impactful as I could see the grimy funky floor disappearing under clean fresh paint, and also using the long roller is very fun. The whole thing including edging took about twenty minutes. 

And then I settled in to wait four hours before going in for coat number two. Honestly one coat could have been fine but I wanted to make sure all the awfulness was well and truly covered so I figured two coats to be safe. It looked amazing and I was finished just before midnight. In the morning I found myself walking by over and over just to peek and see how transformed the room looked. 

I left it to keep drying all day while I was at work and when I got home that night it was time for the stencil. I was very scared about this part because it seemed to have the most chance of failing and or just looking sloppy or amateur or like a bad craft-plosion. So I was sceptical of the outcome and very much leaning towards just keeping it gray. I actually changed the stencil pattern at the last minute as well. And then ruined the first one when it turned out that spray paint started getting really messy after four tiles (the amount I'd done as a tester up at the top) and I had to re-cut the stencil again and then paint over the spray paint portion and try doing the stencil old school with a brush. 

When I got through these three and paused to consider and do some math as to how long this might take me. I was also concerned that the brush created a more textured pattern, and you could see minor flaws in each and I started to hyperventilate a bit. But then I took a deep breath and stood up to look at them and reminded myself that no one was going to be crouching on my floor examining my handywork as up close as I was when I was working. And it was true that from standing height it looked much better. I was still not convinced about the final product but decided to continue. 

After a few more hours and some snack and stretching breaks, it was looking more like it might work. I was following the 'tile' pattern of the underlying linoleum which is unfortunately not centered in the room, or starting with a whole unbroken tile on either side so there was some odd sized uneven ones all around the perimeter but the first night I was focused on filling in the bulk of the space. Since the stencil was on the floor instead of the wall I found that two tiny pieces of blue tape was all I needed to hold it in place and it was easy to lift it cleanly away after with minimal mess. I did keep a little jar of the floor paint with me and a tiny brush to touch up the most grievous of smudges but found I needed to do that less and less as I went.

It was very late when I finished and my back was sore but I went to bed with the floor looking like this, feeling pretty good about my project. 
The next morning I decided to augment my plan yet again, as I liked the boarder of solid gray around the edge, but I wanted it to be even and much smaller, so I put down a line of blue tape, and painted up over it for the remaining area. I had to cut down my stencil as I went, starting with the biggest tiles and slowly removing more and more as I went, like a suicide print, until I was left with a little three inch strip at the very end which looked much the worse for wear.

This is what I spent the morning doing. Not the most comfortable or flattering position but I made good progress and the stenciling was all done before lunchtime. 

I was over the moon excited by how this looked and couldn't wait to move the furniture back in and see it all finished. But I had just spent more than twelve hours on my hands and knees painting the floor and I knew that I would be heartbroken if it got chipped or scuffed after all that hard work, so I went back to the hardware store to see what sort of options there were to seal and protect my work. I was directed to an oil based poly which smelled awful and brushed on disturbingly yellow but dried clear. I did two coats that day and left it to dry for 24 hours after the second coat before walking on it (very difficult as at this point we had both gone four days without cooking and were antsy to get back in there) but the following day at eight pm I walked in carefully with socks and tested it out and it seemed to be holding up well, not at all tacky to the touch and wonderfully mirror-bright shiny. With the solid gray paint and the clear coat the texture of the 'tiles' which previously were magnets for dirt and grime, now looked clean and added interest to the pattern, making it look even more like it was tiles as opposed to paint.
I have lived with the painted floor now for over a month and it has held up outstanding. There is a tiny dent where my roommate dropped a frying pan on the first night but it's easy to fix and no one has noticed it but me. It wasn't the easiest project, mostly because it was physically uncomfortable work and time consuming and a bit tedious, but it was also fun, and totally 110% worth it for the outcome. I figure this can easily make it a few years with our normal heavy use and if it needs to be redone then I see that as just an opportunity to try out a new different color and pattern combination. But for now, I am the proud new owner of a custom patterned kitchen floor, and an entirely redone (budget and rental style) kitchen. And I have never been more excited to cook in my life. Or even to sweep the floor!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

a cabinet surprise

There is no surface in my kitchen that has remained untouched by paint at this point and the interior of the cabinets were no exception. While they don't show, to the casual passerby, they likely haven't been painted in at least 15 years so they were......grimy. I had put down contact paper when I first moved in but I have tired of the worn this-was-once-white-paint look of them. And when I decided to give them a fresh coat it seemed silly to stick with white, since A. they don't show when the doors are closed, and B. most of the dishes are white so it seemed like a good place for a colorful background. I considered red, purple, blue and even a bright  yellow or coral, but ended up deciding on a dark saturated, jungle-y feeling green. I got a ton of paint strips, narrowed it down to juniper and manor green (Benjamin Moore at my local hardware store of course) and ended up going with manor green as it felt more true green that blue green.
After making the kitchen look like a crazy mess by unloading everything out onto the counters I did a first coat. And paused. It looked so patchy and weird and much more turquoise than I intended. But I decided to keep going and so I did a second coat. And then breathed a sigh of relief because it looked so much better.
Below you can see, on the right one coat, and on the left two and what a difference that second coat made in terms of coverage and color saturation.

I did three coats total, on the top cabinets and the front cabinets too, though I was very much scraping the bottom of my quart can of paint in the end to make sure I got ever last drop. Then it was a matter of waiting overnight and loading everything back in.
I think it's actually easier to see everything with the contrast color background, and I like that the bead board that was always there shows up more with fresh paint. Also this makes me smile every time I need to get something out (and even the more jumbled cabinet to the right that's essentially a pantry looks cleaner and more ordered with this update) so it was totally worth a few hours and a quart of colorful paint.

Monday, September 14, 2015

September birthday party

September's party was super easy, as I actually threw my own birthday party this year I had all sorts of things on hand. I did a park picnic which was lovely but I wanted to see how the same elements would function at a more simple dinner party so I threw together this pretty table.
The background was a mixture of tassel garlands and some gold Mylar number balloons. Both are hung on the wall with washi tape and made things feel instantly festive. 

For the table I started with a white + print table cloth, and layered some light blue woven napkins at each place as a place mat of sorts. I used the same white plates and gold flatware seem to be my standard go to, but I layered the dark blue floral napkins and cutlery on the plate with a different patterned bow tie at each place. I also used a gold rimmed wine glass and a shorter water glass, and place cards I made out of leftover invitations, with a felt flower clipped to each. 

As the cake topper I used the original drawing for my invitations, which I redid the color to, and I made a new cake stand by layering a white plate on an overturned blue bowl.

Cost breakdown was as follows:
pin backs...................................................................$4.00
hair clips...................................................................$3.00
This table was super fun and easy to put together, and it was a nice challenge to try to use the parts from my picnic in a different setting and see them still look nice. Also I very much enjoy doing party favors that can actually be worn at the party, it's such a nice extra touch.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

...tied up with string

I have way too many craft materials, sewing trims, bits and bobs. I try to convince myself that it's not hoarding, it's collecting. But this is a fine line. My studio is overflowing with tidbits and trifles. 

Recently when I was wrapping a gift I decided to experiment and see how many different ways I could decorate a brown paper package by using only materials that I had on hand.

I began with this blank surface:
First I used ribbon and cut out some old block printed postcards.

Next was a polaroid of the sky with some navy pom pom trim.

Then I went for some traditional velvet ribbon, plus an old photo and a little 'for you' tag held together with a mini clothespin.

Fourth was a mix of some thick gold netting ribbon and hot pink grosgrain which I used to hold a pink tassel keychain in the middle.

Fifth I used a mix of a a paint strip and some dotty garlands I had leftover from an Easter party.

Then I stayed with the paint chips, but added in a scissor print and some eyelashes. I tied it all on with pink rick rack.

Seventh I continued with the idea of small gift as wrapping, and layered some cut out leaves with a sun printing kit and some polka dot ribbon.

Eight was some wrapping paper that I folded down to create layers, and an oversized playing card with black velvet ribbon.

Ninth I used some daisy trim and a fake flower.

Tenth I wove together a mix of construction paper strips and wrapped them around the middle of the package.

Then I used a combination of sparkly trims and small cards.

Finally for the last, I used some large and small price stickers to create a pattern on the paper.

Honestly I am sure that I could have kept going. I think I could draw two possible conclusions here: A. I am a hoarder and need to get this under control or B. My friends are going to be getting more gifts in the near future because this was super fun and there's not much that I like more than a prettily wrapped package. Also, this solidified my feeling that you really don't need 'gift wrap' in an official sense to wrap gifts well, because really anything can be used to make a package look exciting and finished.