Thursday, July 30, 2009

What a Difference a Spray Makes!

In case you don't know me, my name is Kerry and I'm a thrift-aholic. Cheap, frugal, low budget, I call it various names, but the point is that if I can't do a decor project/makeover for less than $10, I'm probably not going to do it. Or, at least, I'm going to think REALLY hard about it (and probably obsess for a ridiculously long time). So, are you ready for a couple of super-cheap upgrades? Here goes!

The kitchen is NOT my favourite room of the house. I don't often cook, so it was fine with me that the house I bought has a very small kitchen. Some day soon I'd like to upgrade the appliances (they're very old and very ugly), but otherwise the kitchen can stay as is, because I don't spend much time in it. BUT, when I moved in, the room's only light (and air circulation!) source looked like this: (click to enlarge - I dare you.)

I personally can't recall ever seeing a nastier looking ceiling fan. The dirt can be easily remedied, but the damaged faux wood veneer and 'gold' accents? I'm not a 'fan' (pun intended). Enter my favourite inexpensive decorating tools, a couple of trusty cans of spray paint:

A little red and aluminum-coloured spray paint and the fan actually looks like it belongs! It now coordinates with my favourite fabric panel on the far wall (the colours of which, coincidentally, set the tone for the whole room). Not bad for a short term fix. I have a number of light fixtures that need to be upgraded, but at least now this one doesn't have to be first on the list!

Next up was a mirror for my bathroom. The wall in front of the sink is actually part of the sloped ceiling, so a traditional bathroom mirror or medicine cabinet wouldn't work. After a recent trip to Value Village, I came home with this beauty for a mere $4:

It wasn't perfect (a few chips, as pictured), but it would do. I like the simple, wide frame, and the fact that it's got a really slim profile - space is at a premium in the bathroom!

It might be tough to tell in this pic, but I painted it with some of the aluminum-coloured spray paint left over from the ceiling fan project. Et voila, my bathroom finally has a mirror!

So what do you think? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Has spray paint made a difference in your world, too?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Demo Day

Today's pics aren't so much 'Before and After' as 'Before and During', because in this case, the 'After' is going to take awhile. But the progress was gratifying, so I thought I'd put up some pics!

My house came with an ill-made, rotten, useless front deck. Exhibit A:

Your eyes aren't deceiving you, those railings are at approximately knee-height. The only way the deck's been useful since I moved in is as a surface to paint on, that's why you might've noticed that smattering of red paint over the peeling blue.

Anyhow, it had to go, to make way for lots of change, including a new deck and stairs (eventually), although there's some bigger 'structural' stuff I need to take care of first.

But here's the result of my afternoon's labours. The term 'brute strength' comes to mind, although it helped that a lot of the wood was rotten! :)

So, as I said, not pretty yet, but on it's way! As for me, I'm well on my way to a nap. Today's the kind of day I wish I had a man's upper body strength, because that wore me out!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Peep Show

How's this for a quick upgrade that was a long time coming?

I happen to be lucky (or unlucky) enough to have a window in my bathroom. Unfortunately, it's in my shower. Here's the view:

As soon as I moved in, I realized than unless I wanted to put on a show (no thanks!), I needed to cover up that window asap - but how? Well, I subscribe to a 'use-what-you-have-on-hand' mentality, so here's what I came up with on move-in weekend:

Yep, a couple layers of bubble wrap (including one in a lovely shade of pink!) did the trick - for awhile. Frankly, it got annoying pretty quickly, but despite shopping around (a LOT!), I couldn't find a workable solution.

Then I happened upon exactly what I was looking for on eBay one night:

It's a self-adhesive (not permanent, no glue or sticky residue) frosted film. It comes in lots of different designs, but personally I like the clean, simple look of plain frosted glass.

And, I have to tell you, this stuff was super easy (and fun) to install. I just cut it to size, sprayed the window and the back of the film with a mix of water and a bit of dish soap, and then stuck it on the window. Spraying it first makes it really easy to get it into place, then you just use a soft cloth to smooth out all the air bubbles. Twenty minute job, max.

(Of note: this shipped from South Korea in just 11 days - including weekends! I wish my Etsy items I ship to the US would travel so quickly! Also, the roll I bought was not quite wide enough for my window, so I left a tiny little border all around the outside. Oh, and watch out for lint - it's a lot tougher to 'squeegee' out than the air bubbles!)

Time will tell how it holds up to getting wet on a regular basis, but from what I've read, I'm optimistic that it's going to work.

And now I don't need to worry about flashing the neighbours!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Garbage Day

On a Saturday not so long ago, I decided to tackle cleaning up the garbage on and around my property - because as excited as I am about living in my new house, the constant sight of garbage was a total buzz-kill!

After spending my first weeks in the house picking all of the dime- to plate-sized pieces of roof shingles out of my lawn (at least three garbage bags full, because apparently the people who got this place ready to sell weren't aware that you can RENT A DUMPSTER rather than just tossing all of your garbage on the ground!!) I was tired of constantly glimpsing all the garbage in the woods and small ravine next to my house.

Technically, it's not even my property, but since no one else was going to do it, and I'm the one who has to look at it every day, it had to go!

Here's a shot of what I pulled out of the woods that day:

Notable 'finds' included two lawn chairs, hockey stick, scooter, computer, two garbage bags full of rusted out empty paint cans (!), aluminum pot, mop, picture frame, and more plastic plant pots than I could count.

I even managed to find a couple of 'freebies' I can actually use - a perfectly good garbage can (complete with cover), and a length of vinyl eaves trough. And let me just say that after the expense of buying a house, I'm happy not to have to buy a garbage can. Plus, it's at least a small compensation for hauling all of that stuff up out of the woods!

But here is my question, the one I kept asking myself the whole time I was amassing the large pile pictured above: What the heck is WRONG with people?!?!!? The city comes by and picks up our garbage every two weeks - all you have to do is take it to the curb. Why on EARTH would you throw it all into the woods?!? That's just gross.

BUT, now my view is neat and clean, so I'm glad I did it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ottoman Empire


This sad little ottoman really wasn't much to look at when I first bought it, but just you wait..!

(but first, notice: the $3.99 sticker from Value Village, the coordinating brown duct tape its previous owner used to patch up the vinyl, and how super-low it was - on stubby little casters)


I'm pretty impressed with what some textured upholstery fabric ($7) and new legs ($2, also from V.V.) can accomplish! What do you think?

It makes a great place to sit and put my shoes on in the morning, and looks fantastic in my dressing room - but more on that later!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Creation of a Laundry 'Room'

Maybe it's just me, but isn't doing laundry the coolest thing ever?! Ok, it probably IS just me. But check this out:

I am now the proud owner of a lovely, new-to-me, energy efficient washer & dryer!

Now, I'm generally not a big fan of basements, and mine is no exception - I visit it as infrequently as possible. But after these two beauties were moved in and hooked up, I set about making what was previously an empty basement wall become a cheerful and efficient laundry area.

I built a simple shelf from a leftover piece of mdf and some lattice (total cost: about $5), then I rummaged around the rest of the house to find a few coordinating accessories, and - voila! - a laundry 'room' was born!

I can honestly say that I've never been more excited to do laundry than I was tonight. I even stayed down there for a good part of the first load, just to 'watch' (well, that also might've been because I was the one to hook it all up, and I wanted to make sure nothing went wrong!) The novelty won't last long, I'm sure, but for today, it was pretty exciting!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

les fleurs

What's not to love about fresh-cut flowers - especially when they're free?! Straight from the backyard!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

No shock, it was an enLIGHTening evening!

Tonight I made friends with my house's electrical system. I got to know the fuse box (yep, fuses. It's an old house, remember - no breaker panel here!), then got to work changing out all of the broken, old, or otherwise non-working outlets.

Don't worry, I did my research and followed all the safety rules, but it was still scary - you know, that ever-present fear that if I were to mess up, ZAP!
It had to be done, though, because the house has so few outlets to begin with (generally just one per room!), that having some I couldn't use was way too annoying!

Anyway, I changed out all the outlets, then a whole bunch of light switches as well (those mostly for cosmetic reasons - I like things to match). By the time I was finished, I felt like a pro! (and all those wires weren't so scary anymore!). Would you believe that I removed five different types of outlets, and four different types of switches - previous owners obviously weren't much for consistency!

Aren't they pretty?!? (and yes, you might notice in one of those last pics that bits of plaster went everywhere, and I didn't clean up the mess I made yet. But it's kinda late, and tomorrow is another day!) I did check to make sure that everything is working again (once I put the power back on), so I think the evening was a resounding success!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sometimes what I'm working on really doesn't warrant 'before & after' shots (trust me, you don't want to see photos of the basement door I spent the last hour painting. Though, I am definitely grateful to finally have use of it again. But that's a story for another day)

Anyway, how about a transformation that I didn't really have anything to do with (unless you count the fact that I could see the potential, even in the dreariness of Spring)? Here's what my backyard looked like before I moved in:

Those gnarly old trees are apple trees - I have the remains of a small orchard. Neat, huh?

And here's what my backyard looks like today:

With everything so green and full-grown, it's almost 'cocoon-like'. Love!

I feel so lucky that my property already had tons of mature shrubs and flowers. Every week it's fun to discover what is blooming - so of course, I take pictures:

And most recently:

I am currently LOVING this last one, which just started blooming this weekend. So pretty!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hi, and welcome to my little corner of the world! Not long ago, I bought my first house. It's a sturdy little place about 60(ish) years old, with some really charming details, and I love it!

Being a homeowner is certainly keeping me busy (and wearing me out!). I have a long list of work I want & need to do, and that list just keeps growing. Since I've been staying so busy, I wanted a way to be able to look back at (and share) my progress, so here we are.

I love looking at diy before & afters on various decorating/housey-type blogs - there's just something so satisfying about a great makeover! So if, like me, you're a fan of the before & after, stay tuned, because I plan to chronicle all of the work I'll be doing to and around my house with lots of pics.

For today, just a couple of truly 'before' shots - of some of those 'charming details' I mentioned - taken before the house was even mine!

Thanks for stopping by!