Monday, October 1, 2012

The Mailbox

Oh. Hi. Yes, I'm still alive. In fact, I'm just going to jump right into this post and pretend like I haven't skipped almost an entire year (!!!).

Here is our old mailbox. It was looking a little sad.
The old mailbox.
I decided to paint it (of course). I love it now! I used Rustoleum's oil-rubbed bronze spray paint on the mailbox and pure white (Behr's external paint) for the post. I was concerned about how it would hold up, since I haven't painted much that stays outside year-round, but it is still in perfect shape four months later. (We'll see how it does with a Midwestern winter, though!)

New and improved mailbox!
I bought three stainless steel buckets at an antique store and planted petunias in them (they're actually still mostly alive, even though it's October). Last fall, before painting, I put in the brick surround and planted tulips. When they died off in early spring, I added the buckets in their place.

Spring tulips.
I'm hoping the tulips come back this spring!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Laundry Room Redo

I was inspired by YHL's Pinterest Challenge to finally write up a project that we finished a few weeks ago. This was my inspiration for our laundry area:

Ha ha... it looks nothing like this. But, it was inspiring! I love the apron sink and the granite counter tops. Unfortunately, our laundry isn't even in a room. It's just a little closet off of our kitchen (with no space for a sink or counter top). We hadn't made any updates to it since we moved in, when it had a couple of particle-board shelves and a poor paint job. This isn't quite a before photo, but almost (we'd already taken the shelves out... they were disgusting!):

We had already decided that we wanted to hang some cabinets instead of shelves, but had a very limited budget. Enter the Habitat for Humanity ReStore! We picked up these three doorless cabinets for $10 total:

We painted the walls and the cabinets white, which really cleaned up the space. Unsurprisingly, the cats loved the open shelving.

To finish it off, I added pull-out baskets to the top cabinets and sewed a little skirt for the bottom cabinet. We keep our detergent, bleach, and softener in there, so it's nicely hidden out of sight. The top baskets hold additional laundry stuff, plus painting supplies. We love extra storage space!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fall & Weddings

Apologies for the lack of posts; October has been insanely busy for us. We celebrated three weddings, though! First up was Lici and Andy, who got married Oct. 9 in St. Charles, Illinois, in an outdoor ceremony right on the Fox River. Their reception was in this awesome old hotel:
Next up was Katie and Mike in Wausau, Wisconsin, on Oct. 15. (Unfortunately I missed this one; Adam was there.) The whole Posse gang was reunited! The reception was held in a ski lodge, and sounded amazing.
Last but not least, Anne and Brian got married on Oct. 16 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Adam missed this one; we had to split up to make it to all of them!) The wedding and reception were at a deer reserve in the middle of town; gorgeous!
Luckily, we had great weather for all of our weddings, but now it's starting to get cold and rainy. But all the leaves have changed here and we have this gorgeous tree in our front yard (the picture doesn't fully capture how yellow it is!):
And finally, below you have our 2011 Halloween costumes: Where's Waldo and Wenda (yes, that's her name; I had to look it up!) Hope you're enjoying fall as much as we are! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Who Needs Missoni?

As you may have heard, earlier this week lots of people went crazy for Target's new Missoni line. I am a fan of the chevron patterns that have been so popular lately, and had already decided to use this fabric to make my own curtains for our office. Thanks to an awesome sale, I scored four yards for $35 and created these on Wednesday/Thursday night:

I looove how bright and sunny they look in our office (which until this week has been lacking window treatments completely). I've also got some lime green and gray going on in there... not sure how it'll all look in the end, but hopefully bright and playful and fun (not boring and office-y)!

They did require me to break out the sewing machine, but I'm really a novice, so there was just basic stitching involved. Here's a look at both panels (and the side of our neighbor's house): 

I'd definitely say I prefer them to these Missoni curtains (which are arguably hideous for $40 each). And, of course, sold out.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Front Door Paint Job

I got the biggest item already checked off my list for this weekend. On Friday, I painted our front door to match our new shutters. As you may remember from that post, the door was really ugly:

Here it is now with the new paint job:

It's not amazing (it's still a plain, six-panel door), but it does make a big difference on our little house. If you too need to paint a door (or anything else...) here are my tips from this project: 

1. For six-panel doors, it's always good to follow the directions (like Pretty Handy Girl's, here) instead of just painting the whole thing in a random order like I tried to do on the first coat. Things start to dry out of order and you risk pulling up partially dried paint otherwise (super hot weather made this even worse!).

2. Always read the product's instructions before you use it. I was using a Pittsburg Paint exterior product that was supposed to have "paint and primer in one." I read it in the store; it said it was OK for metal. No problem! Then, when I re-read it immediately before using it, it said to "prime metal surfaces with the appropriate primer before using." Oh. That brings us to tip #3...

3. Have lots and lots of tools/paint/brushes/stuff in your house. Seriously, deciding to prime the door at the last minute was no big deal, because I own at least four different types of primer. Yeah, I might have a problem. I ended up using a spray-on oil-based primer, which was awesome — it was easy and I didn't have to clean any brushes!

Probably the most hilarious part of this project was deciding how to take the door off to paint it, since I wanted to lay it flat across sawhorses in the garage while I worked. Leaving a gaping hole in the front of our house for 8 hours was a problem due to bugs, weather, cats, etc., and we currently have no storm door. We ended up taking the door off the back of the garage to put in its place, since it was 100+ degrees yesterday and I needed to keep the AC going. It was exactly the same size and color, so I'm not sure our neighbors even noticed. The hinges were on the wrong side, though, so we just pushed a recliner up against it (from the inside of the house) to hold it up. Somehow, it worked wonderfully!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Contact Paper Window

A couple of weeks ago, I saw this idea and got super excited. We have a door off our kitchen that leads to our backyard and deck. It's a pretty ugly door and it unfortunately faces our neighbor's deck (as does our deck). Frequently I have found myself looking right out our window at our neighbors grilling on their deck whenever I'm doing laundry or getting something out of the pantry. There's really no privacy, even when you are in the house. The window had cheap blinds when we moved in, but the cats soon disassembled them (and they were especially ugly to begin with) so we didn't replace them. So when I saw that I could potentially change this door for just a $6 roll of contact paper, I was thrilled!

Here is the door before, with the view off our deck and into our neighbors' yards:

That is two properties — our next door neighbor's with the light blue deck and the next house over with a red deck. Yikes! 
I followed the instructions (linked above) and cut out many, many, many shapes from contact paper. I ended up splitting up this project over several days so I wouldn't get burned out/have carpal tunnel from the scissors. I only bought one roll of contact paper (it's actually "clear" but shows up frosted on the window). I probably used about half of it. Here's the after photo:

And here's a close-up photo of the pattern: 

I love it! It looks stylish, gives us tons more privacy than we had before, lets in light, and only cost $6. 

Up next is the front door. I'm almost done painting it (coat two is currently drying in the garage!) and it looks awesome. I think it's the nicest paint job I've done yet. Which is great, as it's right on the front of the house and hard to miss ;)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Front Yard Makeover

This weekend we got lots of work done! In the front yard, we put up new house numbers over our garage door and added shutters on our front kitchen window. It's looking a lot different (to us) than when we first bought the house.

Here's a photo from right before we closed on our house, in September 2009:

And here it is today, August 2011:
 The shutters, exterior lights, trellises for the clematises, and house numbers really make a difference for us. The shutters were surprisingly easy to install. We followed the directions and had them up in under 15 minutes. Super easy!

I have a four-day weekend for Labor Day next weekend, since my company gives us Friday off as well as Monday (awesome!). This means I have lots and lots of plans... we'll see how many get finished. Number one on the priority list, though, is painting the front door — the same dark green color as the shutters. We already bought the paint, so I'm all set! We originally had a screen door on the front door too, but it was damaged beyond repair in a big storm this spring. But once we took it off, we realized how ugly and in need of TLC the front door was.
It probably wouldn't hurt to upgrade our welcome mat, either!