Sliding Door

This was a “One Thing Lead to Another” project that happened after finishing our built-in bookcase in the office. The swinging door had been off for months while the bookcase was being built. In fact, I liked it off. It made the office feel bigger and more accessible. And mistakes of all mistakes, when the bookcase was finished and the swinging door went back on, the bookcase was completely covered by the door! So this happened.

We don’t always get the opportunity to repurpose materials in projects, but we had saved this door for a handful of years with the idea that someday it would work somewhere.

Even though the door is almost always open, we wanted to offer privacy inside and used a spray for a frosted glass finish.

Inside the office: the sliding door and the built-in bookcase.    Plus the gong has a new home 🙂

Magic Lantern

     I’m sitting in my “home away from home“ in Germany, peering out the window as light snow covers the ground, the car, and well, everything. We’re expecting to wake up tomorrow to a significant snowfall and temperatures that will continue to drop into next week. This is our first real sign of winter in this part of Europe, and it’s going to stick around for awhile. Brrrr! I’ve finally stashed away all the Christmas decorations, which left our cozy little renovated barn rental somewhat lacking in ambiance, or at least ambient light. So, I decided today to play around with a lamp shade option for the floor lamp in the living room. I’d appreciate any frank feedback on how you think it looks—I’m certainly going to get it when my husband returns from work this evening, and I’m accustomed to his brutal honesty! :-)

     This is a fully furnished rental that we occupy while he works here for the next three years. It’s about three hours away from our permanent home, so I’ve been traveling back and forth between the two quite frequently. Since neither the house nor the furniture are ours, I’m significantly limited in what I can do decor-wise, and I’m sure all you like-minded decor fanatics must understand how agonizing that can be! However, Melissa’s latest book has motivated me to add what personal touches I can to make this house feel like our home. I’ve actually been working on this lamp shade since before the holidays, and I originally intended it to be a ceiling pendant lamp. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out in various locations for a couple of reasons—either hanging too low for my tall husband’s clearance height or not covering the bigger hole in the ceiling left by the lights I’ve tried to replace.

     Here’s a “before” photo of the lamp that I re-styled. It’s got an antiqued metal base with a scrolled arm. The original shade was a red Moroccan-style cone with a tassel at the bottom. It was really fine as it was, but I have chosen an accessory color palette that doesn’t include red, and the style just doesn’t quite fit in with the rustic farmhouse vibe I want to create. So, I decided to try to adapt my DIY ceiling light as a shade for this lamp.

    The new shade required assemblage of several components to make it unique and personal. Since this is actually my third time living in Germany, I decided it’d be cool to create something out of collected souvenirs of places where I’ve either resided or visited. I had some vintage souvenir charms and spoons, so I had to figure out how to hang them on a lamp shade.  I found a rusty old wire basket with a hole already designed into the bottom, which meant no drilling or metal cutting would be required. Now, I understand most people wouldn’t even consider bringing something like this inside their home, much less incorporating it into their decor…but I have! 

     I then got some great inspiration from the internet! I came across something called a magic lantern glass slide. It’s a predecessor to the now obsolete 35mm projector slide. It‘s larger than the 35mm versions, and it’s made of glass. Up to the beginning of the 20th century, transparency images of popular tourist locations were printed on the glass and projected onto a bigger screen by something called a magic lantern. How cool would it be to let light from a lamp shine onto a transparent image like that?! I searched on Ebay for such slides of Germany. There are loads to be found, like the one below of Nürnberg! I selected a few and then set about creating the lamp shade, simply using thin wire to attach everything to the basket. 

      Here’s the end result. I’m happy with it, though I think it’d look much better as a ceiling lamp. I’ve already got a ceiling picked out in my home in Belgium where I’ll hang it in three years—my basement workroom. Perhaps by then I will have added a few more mementos, and I’ll look back fondly on my times in my “home away from home”.

DIY Built-in Bookcase

This DIY, four years in the making, was a satisfying addition to our two-bedroom home where the second bedroom is an office.

Before: Wasted space. A makeshift bookcase fit in here, but didn’t fill the space nor provide enough storage.

Shelves! Deep and wide, a couple of the shelves are actually doubled up with books now. Also, some room to accessorize! These pictures were taken with the door off as well as door trim that has since been updated. The door, back on now, opens to the inside of the room, essentially hiding the bookcase from view! Next project: Barn door-style door in the hallway to close off the room for privacy when necessary. Funny how one thing can lead to another.  Here’s to 2016 and many more projects and improvements!

DIY Mantle Project

This project has been on the To Do list for more than four years! Its a beautiful feature and an instant focal point when entering our home now. This project was a collaboration with myself as designer, sandpaperer, and painter, my husband for figuring out the technicalities and brut force, and my son with some specialty wood-working skills from a couple of earlier years of working in a cabinet shop.  My son is now a Firefighter/Paramedic, also a 2015 accomplishment! :)

This recent before picture with other house updates: the mantle always struck me as not being in proportion to the brick fireplace. We were in a quandary about what to change and our minds changed quite a bit during the four years.

Taking it way back: our “brand new“ house in July 2011. By the way, the trick to removing soot? Scrubbing Bubbles. 

Detail of the column. Designed in the middle of an isle at the home improvement store while referring to magazine cutouts, holding different trim pieces together to get the look I wanted, and making it uniquely ours.  

Kitchen- help please!

This kitchen project started 2 years ago when we moved in. The kitchen space is great- it’s open to the dining room the living room, donors open concept and that I love.

What I didn’t like so much- the builder grade cabinetry, linoleum flooring, and the ugly color of the countertops, the ugly yellowed florescent light and the breakfast bar… 

Being on a tiny budget we opted for painting the cabinets white & adding hardware to the cabnitry. We bought stainless steel appliances at outlet stores and that helped improve the look of the kitchen. 

I still yet have to update the lighting & the yucky countertops… But what I really want to do? Make the breakfast bar area one large level island… 

I’m just feeling lost with this kitchen… Any suggestions? I really want to love it, help! (Side note All these images are from two years ago)

Love Your Home Summer Challenge #1

     Finally! I finished a major project that I had planned to begin before the hot summer days arrived; however, one of life’s curve balls threw me off course for a bit. I only managed to complete it as autumn’s cooler days approach, but there are still a few sunny days to enjoy some relaxing meals outside! I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted some shade over the pergola so that we can sit at the outdoor dining table without the sun glaring down on our backs or in our eyes. It will take a few years before the wisteria we planted around a couple of the posts grows to provide an attractive cover. I created a flexible shade cover composed of fabric panels strung on a frame of stainless cable wires. I can pull each panel forward or backward as desired using this simple hand-made pole with a hook on the end.

     I cut the panels to size and sewed the hems (I’m a novice sewer, but straight lines were not too difficult). I then inserted grommets at intervals along each side and attached them to swiveled lobster clasps so they can hang loosely from the cables. I attached the cables to the pergola using turnbuckles on one end and S-hooks on the other. The turnbuckles will allow me to tighten the cables if they sag a little from the weight of the panels or force of the wind, which is VERY strong here in Belgium.

     The lobster clasps give me the option of easily removing the panels during bad weather or if they need to be cleaned. Since I used strong outdoor fabric, I can also leave the panels in place and retracted overnight without worry.

     Here’s one last photo, with the sun glaring down, just to give a sense for why I really wanted some shade over the dining area. There’s a noticeable difference now when sitting at the table. I am happy with the result of this #loveyourhomechallenge!

Love Your Home Summer Challenge #2

     Yay! I’ve successfully completed at least one home project I set out to do this summer! A cushion for this outdoor bench was actually #2 on my list. I haven’t posted anything about #1 yet because my initial attempt went awry during execution, and I’m now back in the design phase…more about that one later.

     I’m no seamstress, so this cushion proved quite the challenge for me. I’m still learning how to use all the functions and accessories on my sewing machine—mostly by trial and error. I’m not one to read instruction manuals and usually like to jump right in and figure out how to use an appliance all by myself, but I had to keep the manual close at hand throughout this project. Unfortunately, I don’t recall reading any details about proper needle placement when using the zipper foot. Perhaps those of you more experienced with sewing will chuckle a bit at my failure to re-position the needle from the center point to either the left or the right of the zipper foot so that it would stitch through the fabric and not smash into the metal foot. Duh! I lost that needle but learned how to remove and replace it in the process. :-)

     My goal this summer has been to make our backyard space more comfortable. The bench I placed in this corner definitely needed a cushion to soften the seat. Since it’s not a standard rectangular size, I couldn’t simply buy a ready-made cushion. And, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a custom-made order when I knew I had the resources necessary to do it myself. So, I did it! I chose a floral fabric to go with the blue paint I’d already applied last year. I attached piping to the top and bottom as well as a zipper on the back so that I can remove the cover when it needs to be cleaned. Ok, it’s not perfect…don’t look too closely at the seams around the piping nor the extra stitching around the zipper! But, it was my first big sewing project, and it works. Mission accomplished with enough sunny days still left to enjoy it this summer. :-)

     Now, back to Challenge #1. I want some shade over the pergola so that we can sit at the outdoor dining table without the sun glaring down on our backs or in our eyes. The yard faces south, thus it gets sun throughout the day. We’ve planted wisteria around a few of the supporting posts, but it will take a few more years before it grows to provide an attractive cover. I found some great ideas on Pinterest, but again I didn’t want to spend the money for someone else to customize and install something. I came up with a plan to drape fabric panels across the top, but I wanted it to be easily retractable so just hanging them on the wood beams was not the best option. I successfully sewed eight 4-meter long fabric panels. (Yay! I’m getting somewhat adept at sewing in straight lines.) I purchased black curtain rails and rods and successfully installed them. I hung four of the panels on one side of the frame and was very proud of myself…for a few hours. I took this photo before the rails failed the fierce Belgian wind stress test and the whole thing came falling to the ground. I should have paid more attention in my university mechanical engineering course!

     Back to the drawing board, and I’ve come up with a new design using stainless wire cables attached to the pergola frame with eye screws. I’ll also use turnbuckles, cable clamps and grommets to string the fabric panels onto the cables. This SHOULD work! It will be manually retractable, and I’ll be able to remove the panels during the winter or when they need to be cleaned. Hopefully I’ll gather all the materials and install before the official end of summer—I’ve still got a few weeks. :-)

     Fortunately, I’ve also come up with a plan to salvage the curtain rails and rods so that they’re not a complete waste of money. I’ll use them indoors—for which they were designed—by rigging retractable shade panels for the sunroom/conservatory ceiling. That project might get done in time for next summer’s #loveyourhomechallenge! We’ll see…

To paint or not to paint, that is the question.

Hello all!
I haven’t posted in quite a while, first I had a terrible cold, then the flu, then I went to San Diego for a wedding…it’s been CRAZY.

BUT, now I’m back, and I have a design question for y’all!

We live in a fairly small duplex, which we are allowed to paint, but we have to re-paint everything the original color before we leave. Since we may be here as short a time as a year (depending on how long it takes my husband to write his thesis) Evan (my husband) wasn’t too keen on painting. But he did agree to let me paint an accent wall downstairs.

What I’d like to do, is paint the wall that goes from the front door/entry area into the living room. But I can’t decide between a light blue and a light gray!

The entry area can get kind of dark, so I don’t want anything that will make it feel closed in. I also am in the process of sewing a cover for our living room couch that is a light gray. So painting the wall could compliment that.

This view is from the front door looking into the house, so you can see it look darker as you come in. And you can also see the gray couch (although the color isn’t very good in this picture).

What do you guys think? For the two choices I was thinking something like:

Keep in mind that I have no idea at this point if I can get these exact paints, but what I would do is get the closest possible color.

Tell me what you think!

Gallery Wall

Hello all! This is my first post here on HomeLoveStories, and I’m super excited to be here! 

So I’ve been in the process of adding items to this gallery wall for almost a year now. Everything (minus the plate which was purchased and added to the wall today) is a DIY project. I feel like I’m moving at a snail’s pace with this wall, and I probably am. Obviously with the blank spaces it’s not done yet. However, every time I see this wall now that it’s coming together it makes me smile, and proud to have created this spot in my home.  #makeitpretty

I Crafted Today

I made this wall plaque today.  I’m loving the graphic stripes and simple butterfly.  I attached her (yep, she’s a girl) with command strips, so that I can switch this out seasonally.  I’m thinking Christmas trees, shamrocks, snowflakes, although I don’t want to think about any of those right now.  🙂 If you’d like a tutorial, here’s a link: