Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dark Moody Rooms

Good morning friends!!  The last several posts I've had are mainly about progress on our own apartment, but I've been thinking a lot about dark moody rooms.
 Maybe it's because all the fall clothes have hit the stores and I'm waiting for the perfect opportunity to bust out my new faux fur vest.  Maybe it's because it's been foggy and cold in San Francisco, and the drippy, dreary days have me ready to hibernate and think about pumpkin spiced lattes, and cozy nights, and big glasses of red wine while the wind howls outside. Or maybe, these rooms are just so beautiful and I can't resist.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still craving warm weather and summer nights, but mentally I'm in the fall mindset.  Don't you think there is something so inviting about a dark moody room?  It is an invitation for dim light, candles and ambiance.

It's probably (definitely) not something I'll be trying out in our current apartment, mainly because our place is not super large, and because all the rooms are pretty open to one another, but I'm really into this look - dark walls, dark furniture.  IF (and that's a big IF) I were to test this in our current place, it would probably be in our bedroom since it's the most separate from the rest of the house, and because the dark walls, and dark furniture would feel really calm, cozy, and sleep inducing.

Normally, you'll find rooms with dark walls and lighter furniture, or lighter walls and dark furniture, but I'm loving the combination of dark with dark.

I'm also finding that the rooms I love best with this dark on dark use rather monochromatic hues - the first picture (and one of my favorite spaces in general) has the ink curtains next to the ink sofa, next to the dark grey window frames, and everything is on top of the inky purple rug.

In the photo above, everything is painted in the same dark taupe.  And below the walls, and rug are nearly the same shade of grey.

This next photo, the walls, columns and ceiling are the same shade of grey, and only the sofa and flowers bring color to the space.

What I find really interesting too about all of these spaces, is that they seem to work best with more traditional details.  The moldings, and more ornate mirrors.  Classically tailored sofas, chairs and ottomans, panel curtains, and a good dose of brass.  

I think that these traditional elements keep these spaces from feeling cold, even through there is so much dark, and drama going on.  They still feel inviting.  They say, come bring your cup of tea and tattered copy of Pride and Prejudice in here for the afternoon.

What do you think?

Would you ever experiment with a dark and moody room in your own home?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

DIY Art - Gold Arrow Copy Cat


Hey friends!!  Happy Wednesday :-)

Not sure if you remember, but a while back I'd posted about DIY art.  It all started with the inspiration photo above from House Tweaking.  Her post is great, but the comments... yowzers!!  Apparently people had some harsh opinions about her having painted over one UGLY piece of art that she didn't love.  I myself could not care less - especially since I LOVED how the arrow art came out.  Clearly.

Loved it so much in fact that I recreated it for our own house!

May I present to you, my own version of the inverted arrow art...


It's not the easiest to photograph, especially when it's hanging on a wall in a room that is currently being used as a catch all storage area for things like empty boxes, a loveseat that we just sold, and wood.  Lots and lots of wood that will soon become a planter for our deck.

I pushed some of the junk out of the way in an attempt to stage some pretty things around the art, and it was not my best effort... for sure... but you can totally see the paintings scale here.  Its quite large.


The canvas I used was actually re-purposed - my best friend left an old black and white stretched canvas print from Ikea when she moved across the country, and it made the perfect piece for me to experiment on. No one was going to miss that print.

So I painted over it.

Two coats of white got rolled on and after it dried, I went to work taping off my arrows.  I did some vague measurements, since eyeballing the middle of a 40" canvas is not as easy as you'd think, and taped the arrows out.

I got a mix of gold paints - including a bronze, and two different shades of gold from the Martha Stewart line. Not to diss Martha, but I was not impressed.  All the metallic shades were flat (not metallic really at all) and the gold looked mustard-y to me.

Back to Michael's I went in search of the magical Liquid Leaf.  It's nice and shiny, and I've used it on projects before so I knew it would work well.



You can see close up that I painted it on thicker in some areas for more dimension - sort of a 3-D gold effect, and it looks really pretty in different lights.

The gold leaf paint dries in minutes, so I peeled the tape off as soon as I finished, and that was that. Insta-art!


I'm certainly no artist, but it was fun to play the part one foggy afternoon a few weeks ago.  

And better yet, we now have a virtually free piece of art that is a nice focal point in our junk room office.

And even better still, we didn't have to throw out a perfectly good canvas even though we didn't like the art, so I like to think we're also saving the environment... even just a little...


So easy!  Happy Wednesday friends!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Kitchen Inspiration for Phase II Updates

Hello friends!!

Thanks for all the kind words on our little kitchen facelift that I'd posted about earlier in the week!

So far, the grout paint is holding up really well!  We've had it for about a month now, and so far so good - we cook / clean a lot, so we're not being gentle on these counter-tops by any means.  I'll keep you posted though on how it wears long term.

In my last post, I'd mentioned that this was "Phase I" of the kitchen update... part of me is still debating if we need a Phase II, but here's a little hint about what I've been dabbling with for a potential Phase II...





Don't you just love???

Obviously these kitchens are all so lovely, and I would just be making superficial updates to our dated kitchen from the '80's (we rent!) but there is a lot we could do to doll it up a bit...

I adore the look of dark lowers and light upper cabinets - it's like a tuxedo... but not.

The reason I've been toying with this is that our kitchen is feeling really "white" - this isn't a bad thing considering before the few updates I've made, it was feeling really "yellow", but with the white tile counters, the white cabinets, the white appliances and the white floor, I think dark lower cabinets would look really nice.

This is what things are looking like now:




Don't get me wrong, I think this is a great place to be considering where we started, but don't you think dark grey lower cabinets would look really good???

There are other things I want to work on before painting these lowers - like painting the bathroom which will be super challenging to cut in around the sink, the multiple windows and doors, and get in behind the toilet - but it's a thought.

Another idea I've been dabbling with for the kitchen... more grout paint... but this time on the floor.  Same situation - white tile (it's linoleum, but is made to look like marble) but with that hideous dark grout!  We have two large jute area rugs to mask all those gridlines (it makes you dizzy!) but I'd love for the floor grout to be white too.  If I am crazy enough to attempt this, then the kitchen really will be white on white on white, with more white, so the lowers will almost NEED to be painted.

Right??

Am I crazy to be thinking about this?  Possibly... but I somehow can't stop thinking about it!

Ok, so this is admittedly not my finest attempt at rendering something, but what do you think...


I'm thinking... me likey....

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kitchen Counter Makeover - Painted Grout

So our kitchen got a bit of a makeover recently!!  Actually, "a bit of a makeover" is an understatement.  The tile counter-tops got a total face-lift thanks to some industrial strength grout paint.  This whole space is feeling dramatically different than it did when we moved in and I hardly spent a dime doing the updates.

I finally got around to snapping some pictures of all the progress I've made on our kitchen today, and cannot wait to share the before and after's with you!  I'm calling this "Phase I" of our kitchen's makeover, and it's quite a dramatic transformation.  

Here is what the kitchen looks like as of this afternoon:


Trust me when I say that this is a dramatic improvement from where we started!

It now feels bright and clean, and so much newer and modern than it did just a few weeks ago.  All I did was paint.  Paint on the walls, and paint on the grout.  Sounds weird, but grout paint is a thing.  I used a different brand for our shower a few months back, and while I was happy with those results at the time, I had no idea that there were better products out there.

After doing some research I discovered a product called Polyblend Grout Renew.  


I'm telling you, this stuff is life changing.  It has AMAZING reviews online, and two of my favorite bloggers from Young House Love, used it on the tile entryway of their new home.  Apparently its holding up to foot traffic, so I knew I had a good shot using it on our counters.  This particular brand of grout paint has a sealer built into it, so I wasn't as worried about doing a light color on the grout as I would have been otherwise.

Ok, so before I get into the process of how to apply the paint, and revamp old, disgusting grout to your heart's content, let's see a few "before" pics... shall we?

So this is what the kitchen counters looked like when we started the process...


Woof.


They were bad my friends.  Like so bad, these pictures don't really do their grossness justice.

As you can see, the off-white tile had dark brown grout.  Not an attractive combination.

The walls and back-splash were all yellowed out paint that only made said grout / tile look even worse. Everything about the combination of the paint and dark grout made the kitchen feel dirty and dated - very 80's, and not in a cute Cindy-Lauper-teased-hair-Breakfast-Club kind of way.

Before you can start painting the grout, first you have to clean it, and I'm not talking about wiping it down with a Clorox Disinfecting Wipe.  You need to get Sulfamic Acid Cleaner.  What is this, you ask? It's a very smelly, apparently toxic, cleaning agent that will lift YEARS of grime from your grout.  I found this out first hand.

As a heads up, this is not a job you can knock out in one night - the cleaning took me several hours at least, and then you have to let the grout dry really well before painting, or the grout paint won't adhere.

Let's start by talking about the cleaning process... The container had good instructions on how to mix it up, but not much about what to do after, and I wasn't able to find much online, so here's what worked for me:

Wear gloves - don't try to do this without them. I also wore safety goggles because this stuff seemed pretty toxic and I value my vision.  Once you're all suited up, get your grout wet with water so it will absorb the cleaner evenly.  Then mix the Sulfamic Acid per the instructions on the container, and apply to counters with a sponge you will never use again.  After applying it to the counters, everything happens pretty quickly.  After a few minutes you'll notice things getting a little gummy.  That's grease.  And grime.  And unidentifable grossness that has built up over time.  This is supposed to happen. Let it.  Once it's really gumming up, start scrubbing.  I used a plastic bristle brush and it worked beautifully.  Once the gummyness comes up, rinse with clean water.  It's going to take a lot of water, and much more scrubbing, because the grease smears around.  It doesn't just lift off like you think it will.  It's all super fun (insert sarcasm here) but once its clean, you'll notice a difference. A HUGE difference. Your grout will literally be restored to its original color.  Prepare yourself to be shocked.  I thought the grout in here was dark brown.  It was actually light brown - equally unattractive, and really really gross to think about.

Anyway, once the grout is clean, let it dry out - overnight at least - and then get to painting.  Super simple.  I used a stiff bristle toothbrush, and you just work the paint into the grout.  It will get on the tile.  You have two options - wipe it immediately, or let it dry and remove it later.

I started out doing option 1, and it was tedious.  Especially since covering brown grout with white paint required two coats for full coverage (3 coats in some places).  I found that it was easy enough to get off the tile after it was all dried.  I actually let it cure for a few days, then got the counters wet, and the paint on the tiles literally rubbed off with a finger / paper towel.  Soooo much easier than wiping as you go, but do what feels right.

Anyhoo, that's the whole process!  I'm not going to lie, it was a bit back-breaking to lean over the counters, but I put on some good music, and spaced out.  It's pretty mindless and easy except for the leaning over part, but it was 100% worth the outcome! Our kitchen feels brand new to me and so much fresher.  In total, it took me about 3 nights to finish - one night to clean, one night to paint, and one night to clean the paint off the tiles where it went out of bounds.

Here are some more pictures of our kitchen counters after their facelift:








Love!!  It's LOVE!!  After the counters were looking all clean and new, I decided the walls and back-splash needed some love too. Out came the paint, and a few hours later I was in a bright, clean grey and white haven.

The Polyblend Grout Renew Grout Paint comes in a bunch of different colors (and multiple shades of white), so I bought two and tested them out.  I brought home the Antique White and the Snow White colors, because I didnt want the end result to look too white next to our off-white tile.  The tiles started out looking really beige but it turned out that they were much more white than I originally thought.  After testing both colors of grout paint, I ended up going with the Snow White (which is the whiter one).

As you can see, it's not jarring, and it looks really natural.  In the end, our tile is actually pretty white, and it was just the yellowing walls and disgusting brown grout that made them look so beige.  Who knew?!

Anyway, do you want to see a series of before and afters side by side to compare??

That's the best part of these posts...

Here we go!





And just becuase I knew you wouldn't be able to get enough of how fresh and lovely our kitchen is looking, I snapped a few more pics "just because"...

Here's how clean and pretty our sink is looking now...


Like a breath of fresh air I tell you!!  I actually enjoy cooking in here now!!


 And here we are looking back the other direction from the sink... nothing but clean countertops, all the way down!!


 These next two photographs were taken standing behind the stove (in my little desk / office area that I'd posted about here) looking back towards the dishwasher...



And, that's the update!  What do you think?

It's unfortunately not quite as dramatic in pictures as it is in person, but trust me when I say that a coat of paint on the walls, and grout paint on the counters have transformed this room from a gloomy, dated, grease-fest, to a bright, airy, food sanctuary.

It's night and day my friends.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dining Room Updates

Hola friends!!  More updates on the apartment!

Things are getting done around here - art hung, walls painted, and now we're slowing down because it feels like we live here for real, instead of that "just-moved-in can't-find-the-cheese-grater" temporary feeling.  Do you know what I'm talking about?  To put it simply, we're feeling completely settled now, so I thought I'd share a few pictures of the dining room.


You've already seen a few snapshots from this post when I hung the shelves up, and this post where I put up pictures of the linen curtains in here, but here's the room in it's fairly "finished" state.

The rug in here is new for this apartment - I'd blogged about it here - and when it first came, I was not 100% sure about how I felt.  Looking at these pictures, I'm still not fully sure it's love, but I like it.  I like the colors, and how it feels really tied in with the rest of the house, and it's got a nubby, earthy texture that is cool.

It's not plush and soft under foot, but I don't think it's supposed to be.  It looks cool with the weathered stain on the shelves and the tripod lamp, so for now, it stays.


With the shelves on that wall, I had a hard time deciding what should go next to it.  For now, we're sticking with the large abstract canvas that was hanging in the living room of our last apartment.  I like them together, and feel like the large scale art balances the "heavy" feeling shelves out.


I have yet to really photograph the other wall in here (you can kind of see in the first picture), but there is a smallish gallery wall happening, and I'm really happy with how it turned out.


Other plans for this space...

A NEW TABLE:
This table, as much as I love the pedestal is very rickity, and smallish.  Not that we need a huge table, but something that doesn't creak when you set your elbows on it would be nice.  In the interim, it needs a good coat of paint - you can really tell from the above photo that it's looking shabby, and when we sell it, it can't be looking like this.  For now, this table is fine, but a new one is on the wish list.

Kris really liked this one from West Elm:

I was thinking of something a bit more like this:


A FRESH COAT OF PAINT
I was feeling a bit "painted out" after repainting both the living room, and most recently, the kitchen, but this room is in serious need of freshening.  There are scuffs and holes galore, and the scuffs are permanent.  I went through two Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, and they didn't even make a dent. You know how powerful those things are too!

Also the heater vent...  Ugh, the peeling paint just kills me, but before that gets painted, it needs to be sanded.  Not a project I'm looking forward to, but an update which will eventually make a really HUGE difference.

The vent will be white, but I'm not 100% sure on the walls - perhaps my go-to favorite, Intense White by Benjamin Moore (which is really a light grey)- but maybe a stark white (like Decorator's White - Benjamin Moore) would be nice...

A NEW OVERHEAD LIGHT
A pretty chandelier or pendant would look awesome in here - especially since we decided to keep this as a dining room with a table in the center.  I conveniently left the current light out of the pictures, but it's one of those flush mount boob lights that is just so ugly.  The great thing about lighting is that we can re-install the boob lights when we leave, and bring our chandelier / pendant with us into our next space.

We have a chandelier that I bought last year and never installed, but I think it might be better in our bedroom... or the entry.  I've always admired the Clarissa series of chandeliers from Pottery Barn... the long one is really lovely over a dining room table:

But the Orb Chandlier from Ballard is also really cool, and I think a bit more to Kris' tastes...

Thoughts?

Does anyone have any recommendations on (not super expensive) pendants or chandeliers you've seen recently?