Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stencil Attempt

Life is picking up speed here in the Bouton household.  We just spent a fantastic, relaxing week in the Outer Banks with some wonderful friends, waking up to this view each morning:

This weekend has flown by, and it is back to work for both of us.  Stephen is working and taking a class all week while I will be setting up my classroom (yay for getting ten, yes ten, crates full of school purchases out of the house!)  We are also trying to finish a (long-time coming) project in the dining room, which currently looks like this:

The project involves these two paint colors (Behr's Silver Drop and Dolphin Fin; and yes, they are very similar!)

and this stencil from

The stencil is bigger and a little more awkward than I expected, so it should be interesting!  I'll post pics as soon as it's finished.  Wish us luck!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Living Room Update

When we bought our house (almost) a year ago, I thought the living room was going to be the last room we ever finished (keep in mind, "finished" and "complete" are relative terms around here... nothing will ever be 100% done!  There are always more projects, more ideas, and plenty of things to be tweaked).  It seemed so hard to come up with design ideas for this space where we would spend so much of our time.  We made progress in this room fairly quickly though (other "before" shots are posted below in the holidays post).  Since Christmas, we hung the art, changed the pillows, and did a little more accessorizing.  

After Christmas, I decided to return the black & white pillows we originally had on the sofa.  

I loved them, but they cost a pretty penny, and I couldn't stand having spent that much on pillows when I knew I could (eventually) make my own for so much less.  So, here is a closer view of my second attempt at sewing pillows!  (just click the pic. to make it larger)

 The fabric is a black & white vertical ticking stripe with a ruffle sewn down the middle (the stripes on the ruffle are horizontal).  Due to some trial & error cutting and sewing, I didn't have enough fabric for the back of the pillows, so I just used some plain black material I had on my scrap shelf.  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, although I am in NO hurry to ever use any stretchy or jersey fabric ever again.  What a pain!

You can also see the art we hung over the sofa.  The two photos were taken by my mom on our trip to Italy (I was a teenager at the time & didn't yet care enough about photography... thank goodness she was there, too!)  The frame in the middle was on clearance at Kohl's with a weird metallic flower print in it, but I changed it out and framed a piece of scrapbook paper that matches our yellow accent color.  Easy, squeezy!

The chair got a new pillow from my second home, HomeGoods, and we also got two new lamps to flank the sofa that fit the scale of the room much better than the old ones (which I still love, but will hopefully have a better home in the dining room).  The lamps were a grrrreatttt deal (I'd been stalking identical lamps at the Shades of Light Decorating Outlet for months, and they never dropped below $80).  I also LOVE the shades that came with them.  I knew immediately that I wanted to cover the shades with fabric, and thanks to the metallic silver lining of the lamp shades, I could cover them without darkening the light at all.

Here is another view of one of the lamps, where you can also see the art that we hung behind the chair.  You can't see them too well, but they are signed Beverly Purdue prints of two elephants from behind, and two zebras resting their heads on each other.  They remind us of our Africa trip, especially since we snapped our own photo of zebras doing the same thing while on our safari.

Oops, sorry for the tangent!  The next area of the living room that we (okay, I) spent a TON of time on is the mantel/fireplace.  We still haven't painted the fireplace, but we love the way it looks for now... until we decide whether or not to paint it/what color to paint it.  Here it is this past winter (so long ago, I know):

The best thing we did was to cover up the nasty, sooty (is that even a word?) blocks inside of the fireplace.  Stephen still has dreams of building fires in the winter, so we didn't want to do anything too permanent (high temperature paint was an option, but we could only find it locally in a spray... not too great for indoors).  I had quite a bit of the black & white fabric (which is the same one we used to cover the lampshade), so I decided just to buy some cheap foamboard, cover it, and stick it in there to disguise the nastiness.  It worked!  For a couple extra dollars, I was able to buy black foamboard for the sides, which was easier than covering white foamboard with more fabric.

It took an embarrassingly long time for me to decide on all the accessories, but I really do love how it all turned out.  It's a good thing too, since many evenings are spent on the couch, therefore staring right at the fireplace.  It's so nice to like what we see!  The photos are two of my favorites- one of us walking along the beach in Nantucket, and the other of a deserted beach in Hawaii.  It seems that a "theme" of beachy and/or avian accents are abundant in our house... is that a weird combination?  Oh well, it works for us!

So just to make this post even longer, here is the last corner of the living room, which is also the most unfinished area.  

The dresser was Stephen's as a child, and we painted it black and added new hardware when it lived in our previous house/apt.  Now, our plan is to somewhat alter the top drawer area to make a shelf for the cable box & DVD player, while also leaving part of the drawer functional.  We'll see how that project turns out in the (hopefully very near) future.

We also have this little guy that we plan to hang above the TV.  I don't have a finished picture, but here it is before its coat of white (along with a "during" shot of a little visitor on the freshly painted piece).


Well, I think I've sufficiently ignored the rest of my to-do list enough for today... ciao!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sew what

First, let me preface this post by saying that, while my purpose is not to brag, I am extremely proud of myself!  See... two Christmases ago, my mom gave me a sewing machine.  
The machine sat in the unopened box until we moved, then came out of the box just to sit some more on our office counter.  This lasted for almost a year.  This week though, I finally watched the accompanying DVD and learned how to thread the bobbin and the machine (holy bajoly sewing machines have small parts!), and then proceeded to make my first project... drumroll, please... PILLOWS!  

For our living room chairs (that came from my grandparents' house... they had them since before my mom was born!), I had originally bought the pillows seen in this photo from Christmas:

Post-holiday decor, however, the red in the pillows just didn't flow with the rest of the room.  So they were returned, and I picked out this fabric (Braemore Emilio in Lemon Drop) for new pillows.  Mom got a yard of it for us from Williams & Sherrill (love) when she was in Midlo one day, and the lovely fabric sat folded (in the shape of a pillow) on one of the chairs for months.  Shame.  But... not anymore!  

After 5 hours of cutting, sewing, and cussing, one pillow is DONE!  Yes, just one.  My math skills are clearly a bit rusty during the summer, and in purchasing the cording I apparently only added up enough yardage for one of the pillows, not two.  So, as soon as I go back to the fabric store & get more, the second pillow will be made (and the good news is I am 99.9% sure it will not take nearly as long as the first!) 

While a pillow was a great choice for my first attempt at sewing, it was for sure not a brilliant idea to include PIPING (cording/piping/whatever you want to call it) on my very first project.  Way to make things difficult!  

I'm glad I didn't take the easy way out though, because I love, love, love how it looks with the piping.  And it could've been worse... I could have tried to include a zipper!  I'm not that out of my mind though, and since I didn't want to do an envelope back (I figured having both sides finished was a safer choice in case I messed one up!), I just stuffed in the pillow form and stitched it up by hand.  I can always just snip the hand stitches if I need to wash the cover.  

Another thing I was excited about was that we didn't have to spend any money on the forms!  Shortly after getting married, we bought two striped rectangular pillows from Target that we didn't end up having a place for when we bought our house (here are the pillows in our apartment).

As luck would have it, their covers were removable and there were nice down inserts inside!  So not only did we get (basically) free pillow forms, we also made room in our closet where the unused striped pillows were living.  Now... off to the fabric store so we can actually have two pillows instead of just one... 

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