Posts from the ‘Decorating’ Category
When we first toured our house, I knew it was the home for us. Chill bumps prickled all over my arms as I stepped in and Sabine immediately started admiring the many quirky details. As we worked our way through the home, we came to the “purple” bedroom.
“This is Sabine’s room!” my child declared and then started gesturing around the space. “My big girl fairy bed will go here, and my toys will go here, and there will be flowers like New York on my walls!”
Fast-forward a week, and I was in full spreadsheet mode – here are all the things we have to do and purchase before we move in. At the top of the list was a big girl bed for my still crib-bound three-year-old. I knew I wanted something non-Ikea, with character, that was built to last and was under $100. This is not an easy task when it comes to furniture.
Together Sabine and I scoured thrift shops and consignment stores waiting for the perfect bed. One afternoon we popped into the TROSA thrift store and found two French provincial style twin beds. They were in rough shape. One bed had a rotting leg and the other, while structurally sound, needed refinishing. But priced at $60 it came in way under budget and honestly, how much could it cost to buy some chalk paint and sandpaper? “It’s going to be so cute AND cheap!” I texted to the Professor.
“HAHAHAHAHAHAHA,” laughed Annie Sloan.
We hauled it back to our tiny apartment, and I started researching chalk paint. I wanted a smooth, matte finish to the paint with the look of wax but the durability of varnish. Polyvine makes a Dead Flat Wax Finish Varnish that had glowing reviews from chalk painters and was about $30 for a quart. A little over budget for excellent durability is ok, I justified.
Sabine and I drove to Raleigh to buy our paint from the area Annie Sloan dealer. I showed him pictures of the bed and explained that I wanted a smooth finish. Not a distressed shabby chic look.
“You’ll want to shellac first,” he said. “That will ensure that none of the wood or old finish will bleed through. And you need this brush.”
He held up the most ridiculous looking round rough brush I have ever seen.
“Really? That will give me a smooth finish? I read that I needed a high quality nylon bristle brush?”
Oh no, he insisted. Any other brush will leave strokes. You NEED this $40 brush to go with your $40 paint. And then you need wax and a wax brush… I was able to stop him at the wax since I had already ordered the wax finish varnish. He sneered at this but happily rang up the expensive brush and paint.
Then off to Home Depot for $40 in sandpaper and shellac. Do you see where I am going with this? $60 bargain bed, $30 in fancy varnish, $40 chalk paint, $40 rip-off brush, $40 in shellac and sandpaper… this is NOT a $100 project.
I sanded the bed outside the apartment, then brought it into Sabine’s room to shellac, paint, and varnish. This was supposed to be a two-day project with one day to shellac and paint and one day to varnish. SEVEN days later I finished. The fancy pants, expensive-ass brush left tons of brush strokes, so every coat of chalk paint required a light sanding. It also dropped bristles like my Maine Coon cat drops fur, so I was constantly pulling bristles out of the paint. It was a never-ending painting nightmare. Six coats later and I waved my white flag. Yes, there were some brush strokes, but this was getting ridiculous. It was for a little kids room. Chances are it would be covered in puppy stickers within 24 hours anyways. Three coats of varnish and 3 additional days of cure time and it was finally ready to wrap up and add to the growing pile of stuff for the new house.
So the moral of this story is that chalk paint is NOT a one day project, Polyvine Dead Flat Wax Finish Varnish is badass, expensive Annie Sloan brushes are a piece of crap, and no DIY refinishing project is every “cheap” or “quick!”
Thankfully I am thrilled with the end result and, most importantly, so is Sabine. We set the bed up the first night in the house, and she was so excited that she could not wait to go to sleep – which is a VERY big thing for my sleep fighting child.
I have been putting off photographing the rest of the house because I wanted it to be “finished.” But really, are rooms really ever “finished?” Further more, with a newborn it seems your rooms are no longer yours, but theirs. Rather than waiting till everything is picture perfect I decided to share some “in progress” with you guys. I am learning to live with a far from perfect space. I am learning to accept this as my new normal. So here it is. We start with a view from the long entry hallway. We sold our large entertainment center from KY and purchased a cheap Ikea LACK TV stand as a temporary fix. One day we will upgrade. I used my curtains from our KY house and doubled them up for more fullness. This time we hung them high and wide to create the feeling of higher ceilings and larger windows. I used the same lamps from KY and am currently hunting for a new fabric to recover the shades. Our ottoman houses a library of books for Sabine. Folded under the window is the Rock ‘n Play. The rug is by “Flor,” pattern “Sweater Weather.” I am in love with it! The large table and benches in KY were sold and we downsized to a small square Ikea table that opens up to seat six. Same chairs as KY, covers made by me. The little wood school chair will soon hold Sabine’s high chair. The ugly Lamby Swing contains Sabine while Mommy shoots photos. Behind the lamby swing is the well-known Ikea Expedit bookshelf. If you look on ApartmentTherapy.com it seems every single NYC apartment features at least one of these. We have three and each provides inexpensive storage. I dream of upgrading to floor to ceiling bookcases with glass doors one day, but for now they serve us well. Here is a closeup of the Expedit. The bottom shelf holds a box of Sabine toys, my weights, a box of cat toys and a padded cubby for cat naps, which they all reject so it will soon hold Sabine books! I can’t wait till that damn lamby swing leaves… but then I guess it will just be replaced with another equally hideous baby toy! Eventially I will have a large canvas blown up of a photo I took in California last year. Until then some old photos fill the space. Here is a view looking into the entryway/office space. Ugh, this is such a mess still! We are waiting on the building to complete the bike room. Hopefully it will be done in January and our bikes can move from the hall to the basement. The ugly cat tree will relocate over by the desk once the bikes leave. Along the other wall are four Ikea Pax wardrobes that provide TONS of storage for all our crap. I’ll photograph the interiors of these next. At the far end of the hall is our shared “work space.” Looking at this photo I realize just how messy it looks. I think I will be purchasing some more white boxes or some cupboard doors for the Expedit to hide some of the junk! I am also considering painting that far wall and the front door a bright color. Maybe a a deep turquoise. Thoughts? In the living room you can see a cat box peeking our from under the guitars. One day the Professor will build a bench that will house the litter box, provide cat litter/food storage and give us a place to sit by the front door and take off shoes/boots. Here is a quick picture of the dining “area.” The Seattle photo is one of my favorite photos I have ever taken. Looking at this I realize that the Professor has hung the aluminum landscape print and the abstract piece by my brother too high… Ooops! And there is a box he has stashed on top of the wardrobe! Shame on him… he knows how I feel about stashing things like that! 🙂 And finally our little couch/seating area. I am stalking Apartment Therapy’s classifieds regularly and waiting for the perfect small scale mid-century end tables to pop up for a good price. Hopefully soon!
What do you think? Any suggestions? I feel the space is lacking a cozy element. Maybe some fresh textiles… some pretty throw pillows and a floor pillow or two? Definitely need some new lamp shades and some new pillows on the couch. There are WAY too many lines happening on that wall!
How does your space make you feel? Do you ever feel a room is “finished,” or is your home constantly in a state of change?
I posted these photos on Sabine Daily today, but also wanted to share them here! So decorating a home while caring for a newborn is not an easy task! So far Sabine’s room is the only one that is complete, and it was just completed yesterday! Let’s take a tour, shall we? Sabine’s room was done on a major budget and I reused a lot of things from our Lexington home and raided my “memory box” for some items from my childhood. Everything in her room was selected with thought and purpose. The bunting above the crib was made with scraps from her quilt (which I will photograph and write on next week!). The wall still looked pretty empty so I ordered a stencil and tried my hand at it. The crib is Ikea and the chevron sheet is Target. The striped blanket was knitted for Sabine by my mother, her Nana.
I really think the bunting is my favorite part of the room? It was so simple to make and is the perfect thing to hang over the crib. It is firmly secured to the wall with three silver upholstery tacks. Probably not the best choice but it is what was laying around!
The wall shelves are home to an array of special trinkets. From top left we have a “S” stitched by my dear friend, Tasha, in Kentucky. I purchased the framed rooster print in Ohio years ago when I foolishly thought having a baby would be easy. The tiny silver boxes are for baby’s first tooth and curl. On the shelf with the hungry caterpillar sits a jar that houses Sabine’s dried umbilical cord, her dried umbilicus (yes, I kept it. I know this is gross) and her and my hospital ID bracelets. The silver piggy bank was the Professor’s when he was a kid and next to it sits the petri dish that Sabine’s embryo was thawed in on 10-10-12. On the futon sit some of Sabine’s VIPs: a stuffed brain for smarts, a stuffed cow that was my first animal as a baby, two stuffed bears, one hand made bear and a stuffed ecoli because it is NEVER to early to start teaching my baby girl about science!
I opted to use an Ikea Expedit that we already had for Sabine’s changing table. The blue bins came from Target as did the curtains. The bins serve as storage for clothing, diapers, toys and blankets. The hot air balloon print is from Urban Outfitters and is framed in an Ikea frame.
Behind Sabine’s changing pad are more chickens 🙂 See a theme?! These toys help make diaper changes fun.
Also on the changing table are two frames from when I was a little girl. One holds a photo from Sabine’s newborn shoot and the other holds a maternity photo.
Behind the closed door is Sabine’s closet which is NOT ready to be photographed! The white trash can holds dirty laundry. The math clock is the Professor’s touch, even though he says at least one of the equations is incorrect. This writer would have never known!
Hanging on Sabine’s door is a straw hat that was given to me when I was little by my sweet Omi. The wood cat door stop was a gift when I was leaving my first reporting job. The paper lantern provides soft light during our MANY late night nursing sessions.
I decided to keep the futon and put it in Sabine’s room during the first few challenging sleep years. So far it has proven a wise decision as I spent at least half of nearly every night on it! Above the futon is my favorite print ever of goldfish in a balloon along with two bird prints that used to be in our bedroom in Kentucky. In the far corner is a box that holds more stuffed animals and a hat box storing diapers. On the top shelf three very special friends keep watch over Sabine at night: her kitty, a blue footed boobie and a chicken sent to us by a blog reader!
So there is the little tour! I hope you enjoyed it and I will share other rooms of our New York home as they are completed, or are at least cleaned. 🙂