Monday, September 26, 2011

My $500* Bedroom Makeover

I have been busy since school started up, folks. I have been wanting to revamp my bedroom for some time now, and just hadn't made the time to do it, so I decided to begin when school began, and I did — on the very FIRST day of school I got busy.

First, some "before" shots and a little info. I knew I needed to do this remodel on a shoestring, so I budgeted myself $500 for the project. Now, I am painfully aware that $500 is not MUCH when one wants to redo an entire room, but I am nothing if not creative and thrifty, so I will explain how I spent (and budgeted) my money at the end of this post.

The bedroom BEFORE, from a couple of different angles:

The furniture is some that Terry brought to our marriage, having bought it himself as a young adult. While there is nothing particularly WRONG with the furniture, it has always seemed to me a little dated and '80s-looking, but I couldn't afford NEW furniture (particularly on my tiny budget) so I decided to try the next best thing: paint and hardware. This picture shows WHY I was ready for a furniture makeover; both bedside tables looked like this on top, from many years of carelessness with coasters. (Note to readers: USE your coasters!):

The handles on the original furniture were these molded wood things that, again, had nothing particularly wrong with them but to me dated the furniture about 25 years:

Sometime in August, I decided to see what would happen if I pried one off with a screwdriver and a hammer:

The result, as you can see, was problematic at best. Because the handles were actually a solid unit that sat into a recessed hole in the front panel of the furniture, I would need to find something that would be large enough to actually COVER this hole. I searched for a couple of weeks to no avail (and was beginning to severely regret having popped this one off, since I wasn't sure I would be able to fix it and then Terry would REALLY be angry with me)... and then Terry and I took a little weekend getaway in late August, to Palm Springs. What does Palm Springs have to do with this story? Well, we stayed at the ├╝ber-chic and fashionable Viceroy Hotel, styled and designed by none other than Kelly Wearstler, and it was while relaxing in the air conditioned comfort of our room that I had my "aha" moment. The furniture in the room featured large mirrored handles. Most were VERY large (and probably custom made), but the one on the mini-fridge looked like EXACTLY the right size for what I had in mind. With that, I began a search on the Internet and, lo and behold, found exactly what I was looking for at a mirror supply company. Even better? They were on sale for $5 a pop — cheaper than MOST standard furniture hardware. 

Now, I did not initially tell Terry my intention of putting mirrored handles on the furniture. Terry tends to be a disbeliever until he sees a finished product, which has often been the case when I have begun a home improvement project. So oftentimes I don't really tell him my plan until it's kind of too late, and then he will grudgingly admit that he likes it. So when the box of mirrored handles arrived and he realized my intent, he was seriously doubtful, but by that point I had already popped off several more handles from the furniture so there wasn't much he could say about it at that point anyway. So I crossed my fingers that the end result would look as cool as I THOUGHT it would... and pressed on. 

So on the first day of school — August 31, to be precise — I dragged the first bedside table out to the driveway to take a stab at painting it. Now, a side note here; originally I intended to spray paint the furniture, but after two coats I could tell I was going to hate it. It's difficult to see in these photos, but the wood has a fairly heavy wood grain, and the spray paint was not thick enough to fill it in entirely, leaving these TINY little black dots of unfilled areas — it looked like pepper. So I scrapped the spray paint idea and switched to regular old brush-on paint — I splurged and bought the kind with the primer included. Woo hoo, big bucks! 

I was pleased enough with the end result (and its mirrored handles, shown close up below) that Terry agreed it was looking "kind of okay." I think he still was hesitant to put all his excitement into the project, but was thinking it wouldn't be a COMPLETE loss, mirrored handles or no. 

So the furniture was well under way. I painted one piece at a time, so I only had to empty out the drawers of one item at a time. I would say overall it took me about a week and a half to get the furniture all painted — two side tables, a dresser and an armoire. The headboard is the last piece to be painted, which I haven't actually done yet, because just this weekend I tackled the other big part of my makeover: the brown wall. 

I have been wanting to paint one wall in my room chocolate brown almost since the day we moved into this house THIRTEEN years ago, and Terry resisted me for many years, fearing it would make the room too dark — but the room has very high ceilings and transom windows, so we don't have a problem with lightness in the room. So I pushed and pushed, until finally he relented (but only after seeing his MOTHER'S chocolate brown bedroom wall, which she painted about four years ago). This is how long it has taken me to get this project rolling. So I brought home a bunch of paint swatches and stuck them on the wall to see what spoke to me. I finally chose a color called Wooden Swing, which is a very nice, mid-tone brown that blends well with the rest of the room. 

Also, meanwhile, I had been on a shopping spree, and got new lampshades, a new mirror, new bedding, and a new rug (where previously there had been NO rug) — pricing breakdown below. And after painting one wall brown this past weekend, here is the end result:

There are still a couple of things to finish — mainly redoing the photo layout on the wall to the side of the bed (I want to completely reorganize this) and painting the headboard (which is currently in the garage) — but for the most part it's done. And the best part? Terry loves it. 

Here's how I spent my money (and why there's an (*) next to my $500 budget in the title)
Furniture handles: 18 @ $5.05 = $90
Paint (furniture and wall): $76
Mirror from Homegoods: $40
Bedding and throw pillows from TJ Maxx: $184 
(note: the knitted throw pillow was an old pillow I had that I just knitted a little sweater for. Easy peasy!)
Rug: $150* — but technically free since I bought it with Target gift cards I had been hoarding
Lampshades: 3 @ $10 (clearance!) = $30
Mirrors for tops of side tables: $65
Glass for top of dresser: $65

Grand total: $700 — minus the $150 for the "free" rug, I spent $550 — slightly over budget, but I think I did pretty darn well. 

So... what do you think? 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monthly Newsletter — Month 21

IMG_3547, originally uploaded by JenSig.

Dear Isla,

Oh my goodness, you have grown in such leaps and bounds in the past few weeks! Suddenly you speak in sentences! You demand things! You have a sense of humor! You feel remorse! It's hard to keep track of all the new tricks up your sleeve, but I'll try and recall a few here.

First — your sense of humor. You are FUNNY, little girl, and the best part is you KNOW it. One of the new things you do now is when I go to get you out of your car seat or stroller or something you suddenly pretend to be sleeping; your eyes are closed and your mouth is pursed with a slight pucker. Then you wait for me to say, "Oh, look! Isla is sleeping! Shhhh!," at which point you open your eyes and burst out laughing, thinking you played a trick on me.

You are speaking more and more, as I said, even using simple sentences. The other day we were looking for something, and when I asked if knew where it was, you held your two hands up in the air and said, "I don't KNOW!" Now, mind you, your speech is still not very CLEAR — this came out sounding more like "I wo WO" — but you and I both knew what you were saying. You also will call out things like, "Daddy, where ARE you?" And the best one that you say (generally when prompted) is "I love you," which comes out sounding like "I wuh woo." Makes my heart melt every single time you do it.

You also know about 8 letters of the alphabet — all of the vowels and several consonants as well. Smart, smart girl.

You absolutely adore Owen and Edie, and you get so excited when it's time to pick up "O" and "Deedee" from "cool." I'm sure that being without them for most of the day, now that school has begun, must seem odd for you, although you do seem to enjoy not having to fight for what you want. Owen recently started sitting with you on a skateboard, both of you wearing little helmets, and he wraps his arms around your middle and the two of you coast down the cul-de-sac, at which point you immediately yell for "mo mo mo!" You love it immensely when the big kids play with you, and you seem to be a bit of a thrill seeker, attempting to ride scooters and skateboards and anything else the big kids are doing.

You also generally understand when you are in trouble and you also often realize that you deserve it — I know this because when you get scolded you will hang your head and look at your toes before muttering, "sorry" ("toddy") and then you usually offer a sweet little hug, as if to emphasize that you really are sorry.

You are such a delight in all of our lives, little one. Every day brings new adventures, and each day I try and remind myself what a blessing each moment with you (and your siblings) is.

Love, Mama

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Three thousand two hundred eighty-five

DSCN1759, originally uploaded by JenSig.

Dear Owen,

3,285 — that's the number of days (give or take) that you've been alive on this planet. That many days ago, I had just given birth to you, shortly after midnight, after going through a preposterously long and intense labor. And from the moment I laid eyes on you, I was enchanted.

From the very beginning, you gripped my heart so completely, you, with your little bald head and sweet disposition, and I have delighted in watching you grow over the past nine years into a delightful, wonderful, intelligent, sensitive and kind little man.

You have continued to amaze me with your intellect and thirst for knowledge. We discovered after this year's state testing that you read at a sixth grade level (and you only just started third grade) and you excel even more in math. You love any kind of games that involve using your smarts, and this summer we introduced you to the fun of Yahtzee, and you get such a thrill out of playing it.

But you are also a very typical 9-year-old in so many other respects as well... you love video games and any kind of new technology (like our family iPad or playing on the Internet). You are generally pretty good about trying most foods and are open to new things while remaining stubbornly resolute about others. You eat a crazy, inordinate amount of ketchup. You love chocolate.

This summer, you went back to surf camp, and though you began the week a little apprehensive of the experience, you jumped headlong into it, embracing and challenging your own fears, and now it's all you talk about, asking Daddy when is the next time he will take you surfing.

You are a fantastic big brother (most of the time) to your two sisters, being pretty nurturing with baby Isla — though you and Edie sometimes butt heads, too... I suppose it's because you two are closer in age. But you are also kind to her as well, and you generally give her a sweet hug and kiss goodnight, and you are always there for her if she is sad or gets hurt.

As for me, I delight in watching you most when you are deep in thought, because you are prone to do so, and I find myself wondering where your imagination has taken you this time, or what profound thoughts are running through your head.

Recently you asked me when you could have a cell phone, to which I replied that you would not have one for a VERY long time, like high school. Then you asked if it could be an iPhone, and I laughed and said no, probably not. You sat in the back of the car thinking it over for a few moments, then you said, "Well, you never know what the future holds, Mommy." Sage words, my friend. Sage words, indeed.

Nine years ago you made me a mommy for the first time. It has been the most incredible nine years of my life, little buddy. I love you so!

Love, Mommy