Welcome to my little corner of the virtual world where I hope to share my experiences as I embark upon adventures in DIY home design - I hope that by sharing my experiences, I can inspire YOU to do the same!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Basement Step 1 - Utility Sink Area

Here's a refresher on the area I'm talking about here:

While certainly not the prettiest space in the basement, it certainly is one of the most often used spaces - I'm always filling up buckets, rinsing paint brushes, and doing all sorts of things over this area.  Here's a close up of the old kitchen cabinet that sits next to the sink (after I took the door off), a remnant from the previous home owners:

I figured that by replacing the counter top, giving it a coat of paint, and adding some hardware, that I would have not only a functional storage solution for cleaning supplies, but also a pretty one!  I think I was right - check out the "after" shot:

I laid a couple of spare ceramic tiles across the top for now to serve as a counter top - I may come up with a more permanent solution down the line, but it works for now. 

I then attached a cut of fabric (with velcro) around the bottom of the utility sink to skirt it, added a rug, and created some cheap "artwork" with a discarded window screen and some old license plates we had hanging around (I attached the license plates to the screen with paper clips through the screen).  I also created a paper towel holder out of a curtain rod which I attached to the window screen with wire.  After adding a few more decorative accessories, and a plug in cheapo hanging light from Ikea, I had a revived utility area that makes me smile whenever I head downstairs into the basement (sorry for the less than desirable pics - license plates weren't meant to be photographed!):

I'm currently now working on the workout area of the basement - photos to follow soon!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Basement...

Over the course of the past several months, our unfinished basement has fallen victim to my numerous projects, in addition to neglect in general, which left it looking like this right after New Year's:

Tool bench/work area

Laundry area

Utility sink area

Pantry & general storage area

Paint storage area

Furnace/water heater/more storage area

Workout/project area

Cat's bathroom - 'nuff said

Cardboard box storage area

As you can see, we have a rather large basement, but it currently has zero aesthetic value.  I'm currently in the midst of changing that, one "area" at a time.  In future posts, I'll show you how I tackle each area, on basically a ZERO budget (it's really hard to convince my husband that an unfinished basement warrants a cash investment).  In the meantime, let me share with you the basement laundry room image that has been my inspiration for my basement makeover:

Image source

Isn't it hard to believe that room is in a basement?  Better yet, check out what the room looked like BEFORE:

Image source

Looks pretty similar to what I'm starting with!  Wish me luck.....

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Freecycle Find #1....

Just when I thought that Craigslist was the greatest virtual yardsale/thrift store EVER, I discovered Freecycle.  Freecycle is basically a members only group (the groups are organized based upon your geographic region) where you can post items that you want to get rid of, or even acquire.  Unlike Craigslist, however, all items being offered or asked for must be FREE.  That's right - FREE.  I joined the group a few months back, and subscribed to the "digest" version of the posts, so I was basically getting 2 or so emails a day with all of the new posts.  While the items being offered are usually not of interest to me (a couple of examples - items offered today ranged from "small jar of bath salts" to "childrens hangers"), every now and then I stumble upon a gem, which I did this morning.  Check out what I scored for FREE from a nice couple a few miles up the road:

It's a portion of old window that has been repurposed as a mirror (you can see the metal lock in the bottom middle pane).  How cool is that?  I'm not sure of its final location yet, but I will be sure to share pics when I've figured that out.  It just goes to show you that some of the most unique items for your home are not to be found in the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog, but rather for free from your neighbors!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Before and After: My Living Room

So first, I must apologize for my month long hiatus.  I wish I had some fabulous story to share, something involving cocktails on the beach, but alas, I've just been busy being a wife, mom, and worker bee.  Over the past month, we have had 2 bouts of pink eye to deal with (Heidi and Robb, not me luckily!), 3 bouts of the stomach flu (yep, it got all of us), one ear infection, and a toddler who has recently discovered the effectiveness of temper tantrums - the throwyourselfonthefloorkickingandscreaming kind of tantrums.  Needless to say, I haven't really had the energy for blogging, but have found time for a couple of projects, which I will share in the coming days.  Let's start with the first one. 

My focus lately, after my successful curtain cheat here, has been on our front living room.  Ever since we had a family room addition built (which was competed this past October), I've been struggling with creating a new identity for our former family room, which we've renamed the living room.  This is the room that you walk into upon coming in our front door, so I was eager for it to make some sort of "wow" statement.  After revamping some old brass lamps (see how I did it here), adding the curtains I talked about above, refinishing and re purposing a sewing table into a sofa/entry table), purchasing a pair of matching dining chairs via Craigslist (which I plan to reupholster once I find a fabric I like that works in the room) as well as a side table for the other side of the sofa, and purchasing a new floor lamp from HomeGoods with birthday money, I'm happy to say that the room went from this:

To this:

Hopefully you will agree that picture #2 is preferable to #1!  You may notice that there's one item in the above pic that I neglected to talk about above, and that's precisely the subject of this post. As I was collecting and assembling accessories and decor items for this room, I became consistently frustrated with the space on either side of the fireplace under the windows.  It looked too "bare" to me.  Now, if I had an unlimited budget, my preferred fix would have been to hire a carpenter to build some amazing built-in half bookshelves on either side of the sofa, but alas, the word of the day year has been "budget".  So, I opted for a much more affordable solution.  For a mere $20 apiece, I purchased three floating ledges from Home Depot, and hung them under one of the windows, roughly centered under the window and equidistant from each other.  I then used these ledges to display some items from our home which we had previously kept tucked away in boxes and cabinets.  I ended up with a sort of "silver" theme, mostly due to the fact that I needed to find items which weren't fragile or breakable to display on the ledges, thanks to Heidi's never ending curiosity!  Here's a closeup of the ledges with the items:

What I love about this display is that all of the items have special meaning to us - the clock is engraved with Robb's initials - he received it as a gift from a friend for serving as a groomsman in his wedding, the plate I received as a gift from my sorority initiation, the silver sugar and creamer set are engraved with "W" (for "Weidemann" and they were my maternal grandmother's.  The picture frame on the middle ledge was a wedding gift (if you look closely, you will see that I have yet to add a picture into it - I'll get there!), the bud vase (minus the bud - my cat eats all flowers!) has my college's seal on it, and the bottom picture is from a friend's wedding that I was in (thanks Carolyn!).  The middle bottom two items are Robb's - one is is mouthpiece from when he played the tuba in the marching band at Virginia Tech, and the other is an engraved pewter cup he received when he served on the Honor Court at Tech.  The last item is a thrift store find galvanized mini bucket, but it worked with the color scheme (could be a good place to hide anything from lip gloss to hair ties - two items which seem to float all over our house thanks to me!).

You'll notice I still have to hang ledges on the other side of the fireplace (the blue painter's tape is not a permanent addition to the room, it was just there to help me visualize what the ledges would look like once I hung them) - I plan to get to that this month hopefully!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My new favorite mirror...

Last month I fell in love with a white glass mosaic mirror from HomeGoods.  It was on clearance for $29.  For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why it was on clearance, after inspecting it for broken mosaic tiles or cracked grout.  I decided to count my blessings and purchase it, without the slightest idea of where to put it in the house.  When I got it home, I considered hanging it in our guest room, since that's the "girliest" of the rooms in our house, and this is a definitely "girly" mirror.  But then, after being inspired by this post from my friends over at YHL, I decided to attempt to remove my guest bathroom medicine cabinet in order to mount this mirror in its place. 

Here's a shot of the mirrored  medicine cabinet (both front and side view) prior to being removed from the wall:

It's the side view that really seals the deal on removing this unit - the mirror itself isn't in bad shape, but I've been at a loss with how to make it medicine cabinet look less like a cabinet with that much of it protruding from the wall:

All it took was a screwdriver to remove the 4 screws on the inside of the mirror, a utility knife to break the seal that was created when I painted the wall red, and it popped right out:

I was actually surprised by how nice and clean the cutout was where the cabinet used to be.  I opted to leave the hole as-is for now, in case 1) I changed my mind and decided that I needed the storage that a medicine cabinet could provide or 2) we sell the house someday, and the new owners decide that they absolutely cannot live without a medicine cabinet in the bathroom.

After the cabinet was out, the hanging of the new mirror went surprisingly easy once I measured (and re-measured, and re-measured....).  I used a plastic drywall anchor on one side, but fortunately hit a stud on the other side, so I was able to screw directly into the stud on that side.  Here's the result:

Much better, don't you think?  The only problem is, that by updating the out of date medicine cabinet, the overhead light looks even WORSE to me than it did before - but I'm on a search for the perfect light that doesn't break the bank.  Here are 2 lights I'm loving right now for this space (both from Shades of Light):

Option #1:

Option #2 :

When you factor in taxes and shipping, both of these are out of my price range, but I think these pics will at least help me to narrow my search for a similar style - I'll keep you posted on how it all turns out!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


...I'm a sucker for it.  And the lack of it leaves me with a very unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I'm trying to expand my horizons and convince myself that sometimes asymmetry can be even more beautiful than symmetry, but I'm not quite there yet. 

A perfect example of my discomfort with asymmetry came in the form of my living room sofa/window combo, pictured here below:

I blog about this sofa in an earlier post here.  After posting images of my living room onto HGTV's Rate my Space, the overwhelming suggestion I received for solving my symmetry dilemma was to use curtain panels to "cheat" the location of the window so that it looks like it is centered over/behind the sofa.  So I decided to give it a go.  I ended up purchasing an 8-ft long wooden curtain rod painted black from JC Penney.  I hung the rod close to the ceiling, centered above the SOFA (NOT the window - this is important!).  I then proceeded to try out several curtain options -

Testing out a couple of my Target curtain options - they were actually tablecloths, but I figured if I really liked them I could make them work - I didn't like them.

- from Target, World Market, and Ikea, before settling on a nice (long - 96") set from Ikea (only 49.99 for the pair!).  I evenly spaced each panel on either end of the rod, and here's the result:

Obviously, you can see by the light streaming through the right hand curtain panel where I "cheated" the window, but at night you can't tell at all.  I was worried that the living room would feel darker with the loss of light from the portion of the window that ended up being covered by the curtain, but thanks to the material of the curtains ( I think they would be called semi-transparent?) there doesn't appear to be much of a difference. 

I've now accomplished my desire for symmetry through the curtains, lamps, chairs, and ottomans - but - big deal here - I'm trying to get comfortable with the asymmetry currently existing in the form of the two different side tables.  We'll see how long I can last....oh, and please ignore the painter's tap you see on the right hand side of the picture above - I'm not trying to save on paint by decorating with tape - I've got another project in the works in this room...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thrifty Thrifting . . .

After hearing my design guru, Nate Berkus, harp on the great finds to be found at thrift stores, I figured that it was time I check one out.  There is a large one a few miles from me here in Northern Virginia - called "Unique Thrift".  The name cracks me up, but I must admit, I was more than a bit intrigued, so I decided to check it out today while Heidi was napping and Robb was watching the Ravens game. 

I was a little overwhelmed upon first entering the place - before you even get to the actual thrift store, there's all of these "booths" specializing in everything from cheap furniture to jewelery (a lot of it looked kind of junky to me).  But, once you proceed past that area, the actual thrift store stretches out in front of you like an ocean (I exaggerate, of course).  The first 10 aisles or so were made up of household items like glassware, vases, pictures, clocks, etc.  The next 2 aisles were children's books and toys.  After that there was one aisle dedicated to both hardcover and paperback books.  Surrounding this section were lots of racks of clothes, organized by gender and age.  Towards the back were furniture pieces and light fixtures. 

I chose to focus my search on small housewares and light fixtures.  I proceeded up and down each relevant aisle slowly, looking the items over and keeping my eyes peeled for anything that seemed to "jump out" at me, for one reason or another.  At the end of my shopping experience, here's what I ended up with:

Here's a run down of the items, counterclockwise from the bottom left:

1) Par of Washington Redskins juice glasses - 69 cents each - $1.38 total - I had Robb in mind when I snagged these, and he was pretty psyched about them when I got home and showed him. 

2) Small galvanized metal cachepot/planter - 69 cents - I have 2 large galvanized metal pots/planters that I scored for $1 each at a yard sale awhile back, so I think the three together will make a nice vignette once I figure out what to plant/display - meanwhile, I'm loving this image from Pottery Barn:

3) Set of 3 small bottom weighted glasses (or candle holders?)  - $2.07 for the set - not sure what I'm going to use these for - at the moment I think I'm going to probably put tea lights in them, but we shall see -

4) 2 small glass bottles- one with attached cork/plug -$1.91 each - $3.82 total - would be a much prettier way to store hand soap I'm thinking (although not as convenient as the plastic pump dispensers we're currently using...)

5) Small glass canister with matching lid - $2.92 - I'm picturing some sort of bathroom storage, like cotton balls or something, much like the image here (the canister I purchased looks most like the small one in this pic):

Thanks again Pottery Barn for filling my mind with all of these ideas!

6) Glass decanter - $5.95 - looks similar to this Nola decanter from Crate and Barrel:

7) Basket with handles and hook closure - $2.49 - love the rustic look, and the ample storage is a bonus too!  I'm picturing this on a bookcase somewhere in the house

8) Desk lamp - was marked $6.99, but was apparently on sale for $3.49 - whoo hoo!  Reminds me of this lamp with its adjustable height and dome (although the one I purchase is more of a brushed nickel finish):

9) 3 books - 2 for Heidi (and one aptly named "Heidi" - the other one was Robinson Crusoe - these are for her in several years, obviously - but I HAD to get the Heidi one!) and one for me - chick lit. $2.97 total

10) This one is totally random.  I THINK it once was a spice rack, but the spices are long gone.  I think I was channelling this image when I decided to add it to my cart (can you tell I flipped through the most recent PB catalog right before heading out to shop??):

I figured that for $1.91, I could have a go at repurposing it into something special.

11) This vintage suitcase, at $3.99, was one of my more expensive finds, but I think it's one of my favorites.  The front of it is stenciled with "ADVANCED BEAUTY COLLEGES - TUCSON".  Love it for the unique factor.  I think I'd like to stack it with a couple other salvaged suitcases under a table for unique storage and display.

Grand Total - $33.25 (after tax).  I love that kind of shopping spree!!  As I was leaving, I learned that on Mondays, everything in the store is 25% off, so from now on, I will plan my visits for Mondays!