Thursday, April 28, 2016

ORC* 4: The Roller Coaster

It's so hard to believe that yet another week has passed.

ORC 1: Going Insane Again
ORC 2: Hall of Mirrors 
ORC 3: Seven Steps to Stress

*I am doing an on-line challenge to transform my Mother's powder room from meh to totally glam in just five weeks. There are a lot of us this year--about 250!. We all link up on Thursdays to share our progress, here. On Wednesday, Linda, at Calling It Home, the creator of the challenge hosts her own hand picked designers and decorators as they report on their progress. I love reading all about their adventures.

 I was able to spend three days at my Mom's this week. I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped--but that's the nature of the Challenge. It's quite the roller coaster of accomplishments and setbacks.

I returned the light fixture to Lowe's...

It was the wrong finish

They shipped the replacement Wednesday....

Our art from Minted arrived!

Mom had to go to customs at the airport to pick it up...
and then out to the FedEx office there, too.
(That ate up most of one of our three days.)

All the trim for the lower half of the room is cut...
and installed....
even the tricksy bits.....

But we still need a piece of moulding to trim out the window properly....

We removed the bookcase that was hiding behind this door....

The top part is missing the back. I had planned to fix that.

and we lost a fair bit of storage...

but we gained so much room! and light! and air!

I started painting....

but I absolutely could not finish....

Any advice on what we can do about that nasty black pipe? The sink cannot be moved.


So much work to do....
So little time.....

But I am optimistic we can make deadline.
(and maybe delusional.....)

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Make Room Challenge 3: Tackling the Paper Tiger.

In Week Three of the Make Room Challenge, Melissa Micheal's of the Inspired Room, challenged us to deal with our paper in the way she does in her latest book, Make Room . (affiliate link.)

I am late with this challenge because paper.

I hate paper. There is so much of it--and so very little we actually need--but my my husband will ask me for that one piece at any random moment and you'd think it's grounds for divorce if I can't produce it in three seconds or less.

So. No pressure.

Let's see what Melissa says we should do:

Make Room Challenge – Week 3 – Clutter and Entry. Make Room for Arrivals and Departures.

The arrival and departure areas of our home tend to collect quite a bit of clutter and often end up in disarray. We bring in a lot of papers, coats, schoolbags, purses, briefcases, sports equipment, homework, party invitations, and bills, and we track in mud and grime from outside. How do those clutter spots make you feel when they are out of control? This week, we’ll be setting up a sorting station so we can avoid paper pileups near the front door.

 This is my front door.

yep. That's my gorgeous dark blue painted ceiling. I need to give you a better look at that!

I cannot stand it when it is out of control. I cringe when people come up the sidewalk. If my husband is home, I sneak off to the back of the house and let him answer the door. Paper only piles up if someone else empties the mailbox. They put it on the blue shelf instead of sorting it...but that's all right. Me, I do not grab the mail when I come in the door. I leave it where it is until I am ready to deal with it. Then, I take it immediately into the dining room and open it.

3 Steps to Setting Up a Paper-Sorting Station

1. Find a spot near your entry or office area where you’ll take all incoming mail. Put a shredder and recycling bin near this station so you’ll be able to immediately deal with papers you don’t want. 

So, no shredder: but I reserve this garbage can strictly for paper. If I have food garbage or any other kind, I take it to the kitchen.

also known as the circular file.

After I've tossed the junk, the mail goes here:

If I got a bigger box, there'd just be that much more to sort.

as does every single other piece of paper in the house. It is my collection station and it is overflowing. But I know where everything is!

2. Plan to sort, shred, or recycle all the envelopes, newspapers, and junk mail, and put your bills in your previously designated spot every time you bring the mail in the house. Everything that is not a bill but has a due date or an upcoming deadline can go on a bulletin board with a clip or pin.

So, there are two kinds of paper--well, four, but first two. The first two broad categories of paper are 1) Action and 2) Reference.

Action breaks down into two more: a) those with a deadline and 2) those without. That's what Melissa is referencing above. Bills are just action papers with deadlines. So are dental hygiene appointments and a notice to order my son's graduation photos.

Reference is divided by time, too: a) near and b) far. In fact, according to Simplify 101 (not an affiliate link though it totally should be, I love them so much) reference (far) is actually called archival paper. And that needs to be waded through periodically and dealt with, too.

Here's the paper from that box divided like so:

Examples of a few things in the piles:

Action, deadline: auto club membership renewal, census notice, House lottery tickets. (I want to go see the houses, not buy a ticket.)

Action, no deadline: credit card agreement changes (I need to read it), a receipt for physiotherapy (needs to be submitted to insurance for reembursement.)

Reference, "near": recipes, (need to be put away), husband's vacation schedule, new prescription reembursement program. Most of my reference papers go into these binders on the expedit.

Reference, "far": bills paid, investment statement, photos. (Most of these are filed away in the basement. Not the most convenient place, but it is where there is space.)

Most of our reference paper goes into one of these binders. I'll explain how I handle all our paper in a future post.

3. If a paper is important and you’ll need to access it later, file it in a designated file box or drawer. Give each housemate an inbox if they will receive mail or have papers that enter the house.

Each of us has a personal inbox, right here. See those file folders. Yep. There. That.

It's been helpful for my husband to have a designated spot for all his paperwork while he's been sick. But honestly? The kids never check theirs. But I keep it so I have a place to put their stuff.

I put up this magnetic dry erase board last fall. I hope it is as close to a bulletin board as we ever get. I hate how messy they get--and things get lost on them, too.

Get Organized Tip: If your child comes home with special papers you want to keep, get a clear box with a lid or a personal file box with folders to store the current year report cards, favorite assignments, art, and other significant papers.

It is a good idea.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

ORC 3: Seven Steps to Stress

I have a confession to make.

Mom and I started this project a couple of weeks ahead of the One Room Challenge. I am so glad we did--because even with a head start--we're falling behind--and if I wasn't so tired I'd be in a flat out panic.

Here's where we're going:

We've had our challenges.

1. The tile.

At first we selected all grey toned tile. Then, when the fabric arrived, we quickly realised we needed creamy tones instead. We had to go to two different Home Depots to get it. But that was easy.

2. The trim.

Now that we had enough tile to go all the way around the room, we needed to find moulding to trim it out.

On the hunt, I discovered that my Mom and I make decisions very differently. I like to look at every last little thing to see what's out there and to make sure I choose the best of what's available. My Mom, on the other hand, looks only long enough to find something that will do.

We bought the trim doing it her way. It is solid oak.

This is the bottom half of the trim. I'm cutting out a notch to make it fit behind the door casing.

3. The Baseboards.

We need baseboards. I took a very quick run down to Home Depot and came back with sixteen feet for a room which needs fourteen. That's cutting it a bit close, I'd say! But it is sold by the eight foot length--so if we screw up, I'll have to buy eight more feet!

4. The Light Fixture.

I ordered it last week from Lowe's just to see what it would look like in person. It arrived yesterday! I was thrilled! But wouldn't you know it--it is the wrong finish, even though the packing invoice accurately reflects what I thought I was purchasing.

Ugh. Fingers crossed the new one comes just as quickly!

5. The Wallpaper

A paintable vinyl from Martha Stewart that mimics beadboard has turned out to be exceedingly fragile. As we've been struggling to get the trim into that room and on the walls we keep dinging it and it is gouging, badly. It is a nightmare. Mom's already replaced one section. I'm thinking she may want to redo the whole room.

Are we sweating bullets yet?

Nah, This is the easy stuff.

The real challenge is the room. Oh my Gawd.

5. The Room.

The original "backsplash" tile came down easily enough. I made an absolute mess of the wall, but it wasn't anything a little mudding couldn't fix. Mom had to fix a hole left by a plumber underneath the sink, so it was no biggie. (She'd started, but hadn't quite finished when I took my little crowbar to the wall.)

But the ceiling was not properly finished.

Not only did they not bother to enclose the HVAC, but because they decided to install a drop ceiling, they did not bother to tape and mud any of their joints. Those black lines are actually gaps and they go all around the room and get worse above the door. 

There were huge gaps where the ceiling met the walls, so my Mom used sticky mesh dry wall tape to mend it. I suppose it's all right--and a good choice in a situation like this...but it took a lot--and I mean a LOT of mud and spackle to get it covered up. And of course, a lot of sanding which my Mom should not have done. (Her lungs are in bad shape.)

Finally, the walls were ready.

Mom puts the wall paper up.

She measured it and cut it in a spare room, then pasted the back and then carried the sheet into the bathroom and installed it.

But she cannot do any more mudding and sanding and the top half of the walls are a disaster. So, it takes me two days to smooth things out. Mom buys a better mask and sands some more.

6. The Floor and the Baseboards

I enlist my husband's help. In trying to install the second baseboard, we discover that there is a high spot on the floor. It is so high, in fact, that when balanced on the high spot, the baseboard is a good quarter inch off the floor at each end.

My Mother is absolutely livid. First, at the bozos who built her addition twenty-five years ago--and now at the men who installed her brand new vinyl tile floor just before Christmas.

"Did you tell them to level the floor?" I ask.
"But, they're professionals." She says.

(There is also a spot where there was no floor at all and they ignored it and tiled right over it. Normally, it would never be noticed, but I'm in there installing millwork and need to step in that spot from time to time.)

So, my husband, who is recovering from a bout of vertigo which lasted these past three months is on the floor trying to sand down the baseboard. And we start gouging up the wallpaper.

Those green bits of tape on the wall are where we found some studs. Hooray for studs. We don't take them for granted at my Mom's.

It is as awkward as it seems.

7. The Trim.

Oh, I can't even. Suffice it to say, in the seven hours I was at my Mom's yesterday, I cut exactly three pieces of the seven we need to trim out the bottom of the tile. And I hadn't even got to the tricksy angles yet!

Tricksy angles. The tape is there to protect the wallpaper. There is a piece missing as it needed to be replaced. We should have put the baseboards in first, but Mom insisted that wall paper goes in first. That is the spot, too, where there is no subfloor. The vinyl is just sort of floating in mid-air.

This is my fancy wancy set up for cutting notches and curves and whatnot in the trim.

The moulding is clamped to a board which is on top of a plastic drawer unit (for height) and then the board is weighted down by two very heavy books--one on Raphael's paintings, in fact. He played a role in the last ORC!

Lord love a duck.

Good news:

1. We have a mirror.
2. I found a substitute for rub n' buff. Have not tried it yet. Cross your fingers.
3. We have ordered our art from Minted. It is supposed to ship--to ship--April 29th. Across a border.
4. We have a frame from Ikea for one of the pieces. (We wanted another piece of art from them...but...wait for it...they didn't know if they had it or not! The helpful fellow in the yellow shirt said it "might" be in the display area upstairs, in one of the living rooms. I was "welcome" to go have a look. Good grief. It was a Saturday. No. Just no.)

I need more time. (And maybe a valium.)

I am not the only one stressed out. There are my fellow linking participants--more than 200 of them! And then there are the featured designers: just stress with a bigger budget.

If you care to read about the previous weeks, here they are:

ORC 1: Going Insane Again
ORC 2: Hall of Mirrors

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

ORC 2*: Hall of Mirrors

My mom and I once did an inventory of the number and kind of mirrors she had.

Turns out she had 19. Two of which are hexagonal. I had one of them in mind when I made up the mood board for Mom's totally glam powder room.

The mood board--have you seen the mood board yet?

That striped thing on the floor is a small rug. And, I forgot to add the beadboard wallpaper and the artwork which we're still discussing.

Turns out, the one she has--totally lovely--is totally too small. It is ridiculous, actually.

So, I am sourcing mirrors for a woman who has 19 mirrors.

This is crazy.

I want a thin gold frame oval--or arched mirror. I would prefer to stay away from a round one (won't fit the space all that well) and we just can't do a rectangular one. (Too many rectangles in here already.)

Home Depot. Lowes. Rona. Bed Bath and Beyond. Pottery Barn. Bouclair Home. Atelier. Crate and Barrel. Canadian Tire. Sears. Walmart. (Site glitched.) Jysk. Ikea. H&M home. Pier One.

Nope. Nothing. Nada. Burnished brass just hasn't made it into my price bracket yet.  I'm going to have to paint something. Grumble, grumble.

We ordered the fabric on Thursday from it arrived on Monday. Colour me impressed! It is gorgeous.

We realised that all the tile we had purchased had a grey cast instead of a creamy one--so back to Home Depot we went and found as many creamy ones as we could.

We're on the hunt for more. We'd really like to take it all the way around the room. like so:

However, we may just have enough for a backsplash type thing with the beadboard carried all the way up the wall to meet the top of the tile and trimmed out with wood. Like so:

yep, that's supposed to represent tile above the sink.

I held up the fabric and the tile and chose my black and white paint. I've convinced Mom to let me paint the walls and ceiling black above the chair rail and white below. I am so excited! (Though I did also promise to paint over the black with something else-- maybe a green? --if she finds it too oppressive.) I've never had to match blacks before, though. It was tough.

All this black and gold reminds me of the Hall of Mirrors at the palace of Versailles. It's all black and gold, too.

Oh--and speaking of gold.

I found these gorgeous wall sconces.

Not quite a multi-tiered crystal chandelier, but beautiful, nonetheless. source.

This is from Crate and Barrel and it was instant love. Hunting around for a lower cost alternative, I found this at Lowe's.

I believe this is the exact same on as is in my inspiration picture from Amber Interiors which I posted last week. source.

It's about the same price--and I like it better. It is special order though, so I need to talk fast to convince Mom to get it.

Slightly cheaper--and offerring a disount code to ORC linking participants is this from Lucent Lightshop. But, I just noticed, there is a four week lead time on it!

Of course, as Mom says, there's always spray paint.

Grumble, grumble.

*This post is the second of six illustrating the process of transforming a room in just five weeks as part of the One Room Challenge hosted by Linda of Calling it Home. On Wednesdays, individuals Linda invites link up their posts about their progress. On Thursdays, any masochist, like me, is welcome to link up here.

If you're interested in the before's and our inspiration, check out ORC 1: Going Insane Again.

How exciting is it that my favourite shelter magazine is featuring the whole ORC on-line? It gives me chills. Here's House Beautiful's article all about it for this week!

Also linking to Decore to Adore: Thoughts of Home.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Dining Room Makeover: The Cozy Minimalist Way

Late last winter, I started decluttering my dining room.

Here is what it looked like, on a good day.

I was a woman on a mission. I spend  80% of my waking hours in this room and it felt altogether too claustrophobic.  So, I began to go through all the binders of old homeschooling stuff and before I knew it, I wanted to get rid of even more.

About that time, the Nester offered a decorating webinar course (with facebook group support) called Cozy Minimalism. I signed up. The One Room Challenge began shortly after that, so I decided I would combine the two and put myself on the five week whirlwind that is the ORC.

I shouldn't have done that. I just frustrated myself miserably. because, I now realise, the two approaches are, essentially, incompatible.

The ORC is all about the deadline: it is a great way to apply pressure so that your project doesn't linger on forever: you have to make decisions quickly and sometimes you end up with things you don't really want because there's no time to wait.

The whole idea behind Cosy Minimalism is to have the smallest number of items you can get away with to create the biggest impact possible. That means taking your time, being reflective and uber-intentional.

Having done the ORC, now, four times, I much prefer the Cosy Minimalist approach. However, it can mean that rooms will drag on--like my dining room did.

The Cozy Minimalist Approach to Decorating a Room.

1. Quieten the Room.

Essentially, this means to empty the room. Take out everything you can (while still maintaining peace and harmony in your home. So, if hubs is in the middle of the play offs, leave the TV and a chair alone!) I wanted to paint my room (ORC Week 2) --and, for the first time, the baseboards and the pine french door, too-- so I took everything out that I could.

I briefly considered painting this room blue green. You can see the off white I chose, instead. (Glass of Milk, Martha Stewart) Amazing how golden the walls were before by comparison, isn't it? (Papaya, CC-248, Benjamin Moore)

Doing this is just amazing. You cannot help but see --really see-- what's what in the room. The feeling is indescribable. You notice all its flaws, you notice that it wasn't born with style. But that's OK: because you also feel the lightness, the space: all is possibility.

This is the time to start collecting images on pinterest, too. (if you haven't already.)  Nester advises at least thirty. The images you pin will help with every decision that needs to be made going forward. According to my Pinboard, I had 192.

2. Are the seats and surfaces in the best places?

This, is of course, the whole issue of the layout.

I played around with several options on paper first.

As you can see, I fully expected to get a round table to put in this room. But as I was playing with the furniture cut outs and moving them around I realised a few things:

  1. I don't like working at round tables. It is too hard to spread out comfortably.
  2. I could not find a happy place for my Ikea drawer units.
  3. Somehow, I wanted to include a comfortable chair in here for reading.

So, I settled on moving the Expedit to a different wall and keeping my china cabinet in the same place. That left just two options for the table--either perpendicular or parallel to the window. You know which one I chose.

3. Style: Window Treatments, Rugs, Lighting and the Walls.

Some rooms are born with style: most are not. This is so obviously true that it seems trite, but Nester's genius, I think, is her ability to show and explain how to take the usual, ordinary things we put in a room, like our drapes and rugs and lights and create something truly amazing.

Looking at our walls, drapes, rugs and lighting as opportunities to create style simplifies the whole decorating process immensely, too.

Window treatments.

"Don't start your art until your drapes are hung correctly!"

This little ditty from the Nester is humorous--but also a tremendously useful bit of advice. Drapes can--and should--do a lot of heavy lifting in your room. They can set the style and tone. Hung correctly--that is, high and wide, they will visually lift and lengthen the room. Even though our first attempt (ORC Week 3) at hanging them did not go well, I am very happy with them, now. The colour ties this room to the living room across the hall.

A Rug.

A rug, Nester says, is like that friend who connects everyone together and helps everyone get along. I'm quite sure she's right, but I never did find a satisfactory rug for this room.

I tried this one--and a cowhide from Ikea.


Oh my goodness. The overhead ceiling fixture. I mentioned I'd looked at over a thousand fixtures--and I had. I'd wanted something both super stylish--and centered over my table. I got neither. That was in part due to the pressures of doing this room on the ORC time table-- and partly a result of budget constraints--and of being afraid to invest too much into something trendy and something I might tire of quickly. I mean, if I was going to tire of it, I didn't want it to be too expensive!

I quite like the fixture we got. It is 100x better than what we had before. But it didn't give me quite the WOW I was looking for.


Nester has a great deal to say about walls, and I'm not going to repeat that here. In my case, I needed some style, big time. Since the light fixture turned out to be perfectly adequate--but not a statement, I thought long and hard about my walls. I consulted my pin boards over and over again. As you know by now, I chose to put up faux brick paneling.

I loved it right away: but it was so startling, so new, and so different, I did not quite know what to do next. It was unsettling and bothersome. I don't like change, actually, for just these reasons. It always affects me this way and it always settles down eventually--as this did. But it has probably taken me this whole year to get used to it.

4. Accessories.

The Nester talks about the importance of scale (one big is better than lots of littles), shape, (opposites attract), visual mass, and texture. I blogged about roughage in week 4 of the ORC. There's more, including how to mix your pillows, style the shelves and a section on creating vignettes. I can honestly say I've done my best to take her lessons to heart (and, to be fair, others, too).

After the ORC was over, I lived with my new table top propped up on the old one until I was able to apply the bar and table finish by Varathane as a protective top coat. I hate how shiny it turned out.

I also had problems mounting the engineer print. (Though it is up, it is bad. It bows like crazy.) I haven't fixed it, yet, and re-doing the top coat on the table may wait yet another year. But it is definitely livable.

And finally, a whole year later, here we are.

If you're interested in the history of this room and its different incarnations, see this post: A Retrospective 5.The Dining Room, 2007 to (early) 2015.

If you're interested in the One Room Challenge Posts, check them out on the One Room Challenge Page (tab above).

The Cosy Minimalist Course may be offered again this fall. I highly recommend it.

Edited to add four larger, individual pictures of the last collage, as requested. :)

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