Thursday, August 15, 2013

magic carpet ride

have you ever bought a rug? a really big rug. oh my, they're expensive. but they can totally make a room.

i found a modern rug for our bedroom. it's large, but i found it in a cyber monday sale and it's a really popular pattern right now. i'm sure i'll think it's dated in a few years, but most of it is covered by our bed, so i'm kind of okay with that. downstairs in our front living room, however, is a different story...

we really want an antique rug. we thought "oh, let's get one of those cool overdyed rugs." so i looked online and couldn't find one that we loved. well, i found some beautiful rugs, but they were either too expensive, too bright, or too small. i was looking for an 8 foot-ish by 10 foot-ish rug in a muted green, gray, or blue. nothing. so we decided to wait until the annual bloomingdale's tent sale, which happens early every summer. it was overwhelmingly full of rugs. and pushy salesmen. we went earlier in the morning, to beat the heat (it's literally in a tent) and any crowd. failed on both accounts: miserably stuffy and there is apparently never a crowd. whatever.

we assumed our typical bargaining dynamic. i kindly explained what we were looking for (size, colors, prefer overdyed) while phil looked as bored as possible and said he hated everything we saw. the salesman, along with a team of helpers to pull back the heavy stacks of rugs, eventually helped me find two absolutely gorgeous rugs.

rug one - overdyed simple pattern

rug two - overdyed more ornate pattern, tad bit brighter
i would have been happy to take either home [the salesmen try to get you to buy 2-4 rugs, so you can "try it in your room and then bring back the ones you don't want" - yeah, right!], until we saw the price. each one was over $4000!!!!! ummmm what?? isn't this supposed to be a sale? oh, it was on sale. the original price was over $15,000 on one of them. who buys a $15,000 rug? not this couple. this couple was not buying a $4000 rug, either. oh, i considered it. i always do. in the heat of the moment i get really excited about how beautiful it will look and all the new furniture that will go with it... and then phil drags me back to earth.

the next tactic for a giant rug was the big box stores. i checked all the usuals: west elm, pottery barn, crate and barrel, cb2, ikea, macy's, etc. same problems. wrong color, wrong size, wrong price. or wrong quality - i found some interesting options on overstock, but they just looked so cheap. i mean, they are cheap. but i don't want it to look that way! : )

i wish this story had a happy ending. not yet. one day my prince rug will come. until then, it's back to the internets. i've found some amazing resources. esalerugs is my current haunt. there are some real beauties, the price is right, and the shipping is free. then i've been searching ebay and etsy. i typically follow the guidelines put forth by one of my favorite users-of-oriental-rugs-in-amazing-ways: little green notebook. she shares her tips for small rugs on ebay here, turkish kilims here, and success with esalerugs here. hopefully i find something soon!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

artwork search

we're getting closer to "complete" on a few rooms. well, by complete, i mean i'm not totally embarrassed to have people over. but we're missing the finishing touches. namely, artwork.

we have some large expanses of wall to fill. and i don't want to fill it with a bunch of posters or hastily purchased prints in cheap-looking frames. i want the look of a lovingly curated art collection... but i'm being impatient on the time it takes to build said collection : )

i've been doing a lot of searching for art and artists that i like. and i've found several. my favorite right now is michelle armas. her paintings are beautiful. and her framed originals are stunning. a large-format acrylic in a maple frame over our fireplace... wouldn't that be dreamy?? well, it's a little pricey. i'm saving. and trying to convince my husband that we should spend over $1000 on a painting when there is roof work to be done is not going well. understandably.

so i'm taking a different approach for now. scouring estate sales, ebay, craigslist and etsy for affordable options that both of us love and agree on. we've had one success so far.

this piece is from a very cute etsy shop called tastes orangey. it's called "so much" and i am smitten. it arrived beautifully packaged and very quickly. my plan is to use it as the centerpiece in a gallery wall in our guest room. so i ordered a frame.

which brings me to the next piece of the puzzle. once i find artwork, what do i do with it? especially since i don't want to spend zillions of dollars on frames. well, enter emily henderson. you know, the insanely adorable designer from hgtv. i love her. and i LOVE her blog. she wrote an amazing post about frames. i cannot recommend this enough. even the comments are helpful. i ordered a frame from one of her sources and some samples following a recommendation in the comments. i will update on how it goes - i am excited for it to work out!

and i'll keep saving for some large original pieces. my other obsession right now is gray malin's aerial beach photography series. wow. just stunning. i see this in our dining room. one of the giant ones. you know, the expensive ones. i wish i had an actual connection to one of these locations just so i could justify buying one. hehe. 

the other thing i'm working on is incorporating photos from our travels into our gallery walls. and maybe even paint something myself... maybe.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

new additions

we have a couple of new additions to the den. as i said before, that's where our tv is located and we spend the majority of our time. since we have a rather large tv, that's also where we host game-watching parties during a&m football season. which means we need seating! last year, we typically brought in dining chairs, loaded up the couch, and sat on the floor to get everyone to fit - especially for the big games (i'm looking at you, alabama). so we found the big sectional. but we still need more chairs. the room is not very wide, so the side chair has to be rather skinny. we were killing time at tyson's corner mall a couple of weeks ago and happened into west elm. [okay, we didn't really "happen" into west elm - i dragged phil to go look at a coffee table i saw online after we visited the bloomingdale's rug tent sale. same thing.] and, lo and behold, there was a little chair! 

not only was there a little chair, but it was on sale! and upholstered in a non-offensive, non-feminine navy stripe! it's fairly comfortable, and will be even better with a pillow for lumbar support. woohoo!

then last weekend, phil lured me out of bed on a weekend morning with the promise of popeye's and the garden store. we had been to an all-day pool party the day before, and let's just say i needed my beauty rest : ) i was not leaving that bed and was quite happy to watch the new top chef masters and not change out of my pajamas, thank you. but phil never wants to go to the garden store (he always wants to go to popeye's. i think we've been to every single location in northwest DC and north arlington). so that was some motivation to throw on a cap and my sunglasses and get outside.

ummmm definitely worth it. i finally got a fiddle leaf fig!! i've been slightly obsessed for a while and johnson's had a few to choose from in their indoor section. we chose a nice, healthy tree on the smaller side. they had a couple of larger ones that were GORGEOUS. but they were also expensive at $150! our medium-ish sized guy was $40. johnson's is usually more expensive than our ace or home depot, but they're so helpful and i really like them. so i don't mind. well, i like to buy plants at ace, too, but i've never seen anything like this there. i evened it out by buying a new aloe vera plant and more liriope to fill in around our walk at ace. see - the tiny plant in the black pot behind the fig.
anyway. it is a great addition to our den. he sits next to the tv, so he can soak up the southern sunlight that comes in the transom above the back door. if i remember to leave the shades open. i hope i don't kill him!

dorky photo from my instagram feed. please notice mr fiddle leaf fig off to the right. please do not notice the fact that i should be dusting my tv console instead of bawling my eyes out to a movie i've seen a zillion times.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

the baseboards (or how i almost lost my mind)

oh hey. i'm back. took a little hiatus to enjoy my summer and not study for my exams : ) we've also tackled a few projects, which i hope to post about in a somewhat timely manner.

we spent our fourth of july on our hands and knees. sanding. and sanding. and sanding. and sanding. remember how we refinished the walls and floors before we moved in? well it did a number on our baseboards. first, the painters came and stripped all the walls down to the plaster, using humidifiers to help them strip the wallpaper. then, a few days later, the flooring contractor came in and pulled off the shoe molding to strip and refinish the floors. i guess the base was still a little soft, because it chewed it up. and we didn't have time to have the painters come back and touch it up after the flooring contractor, due to our crazy fast timeline.

ummm it looked awful. and we kept putting off fixing it, because we knew how horrible the project would be. we finally had extra time over the long holiday weekend at fourth of july and decided better sooner than later...

we moved all the furniture away from the walls. this meant moving a large part of the dining room into the den.

so that was fun. my arms were already sore from moving furniture! but then the real fun started. the sanding. we started with a medium grit sandpaper (about an 80 grit). the hardest part was not sanding the shoe molding while still getting all of the base smooth. there were several layers of thick, goopy paint and it took some serious time to get it ready for paint. after sanding all of the boards (entry, living room, dining room, stairs and upstairs landing) with medium grit, we gave it a pass with a finer grit. again, it took forever. 

my sanding fuel! can't get enough of this stuff

the straight runs were not so bad to sand. the stairs, however... well, let's just say we both deserve a hot stone massage after that situation. 

pretty, right? : ) to protect the edge of the stairs, we wrapped sandpaper around sponges (like we did while working on the dresser). that way, the sponge rubs against the finished wood while the sandpaper worked on the grubby trim. 

so we finished the sanding. and ate our weight in chinese food (ps - this is our favorite delivery place in NW DC). then we cleaned. we used all-purpose cleaner and old cotton t-shirts to clean all the sandpaper and grime off the entire area. it's one of those chores that i hate doing, so i don't do it very often. which means this is the first time the baseboards received a good scrub in about a year. oops. so if nothing else, our baseboards are nice and clean after this little adventure : ) 

the next morning, we taped. again, the straight runs were not difficult, but the stairs were time-consuming. this task was definitely worth it, though, so take your time and be accurate. phil even likes to run an old credit card along the top edge, to ensure a really good seal between the tape and the wood. 

after the extensive taping, we finally started painting. we used a white trim paint we found in the basement and a thin, high-quality brush. 

the painting went quicker than the sanding, but it was still slow work. it's careful work. and we would be painting and see a spot that needed more sanding (like above). so we'd have to not paint that area, then wait for the entire zone to dry (to prevent dust from getting into the wet paint), sand it again, clean it again, and then paint it. i'm not sure if anyone could ever tell that we went to all that trouble as we went once all the furniture is in, but phil is a stickler for doing things the right way. me... well... not so much. i'm happier to just move quickly. but i'm always happy when phil makes me stop and do things correctly. in the end. even if i fight him while we're working. not that i would ever do that : ) 

whistling while we work aka singing along to one of our many pandora stations
we waited for the paint to mostly dry, then took off the tape. we had to do a little touch-up work here and there, both with the paintbrush and also the razorblade (to get a few messy edges off the shoe mold). 

so after two and a half days' labor, we were done! it's not perfect, but it looks so. much. better! 

we moved the furniture back in and opened a couple of well-deserved beers : )