Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fabric Guru

Those who really know me know that I have a thing for making my own curtains. There's just something so gratifying about choosing your own fabric, and creating a space-defining window treatment that really makes a room fantastic. Curtains are also one of the easiest bang-for-your buck transformations-- right up there with paint. Take for example Exhibit A: the large and boring window in our living room.

Despite the transformation that paint made with this space, it was still relatively dead looking. The neutral walls and furniture really needed something to break up the hard edges of the dark wood trim, and bring some life to the room in the way of color. I knew that some gorgeous fabric could really pull that off, so I started searching the Internet for discount fabric. Those who know me also know that I really love to save a buck, so the Internet is one of the best ways to find great, quality fabrics at a low cost! This is where I discovered FabricGuru.com, and fell in love. Not only is their website extremely easy to navigate, but they've got thousands of fabric patterns and textures to choose from, and shipping is just $4.99 for any amount of fabric! They have fabric by the yard, and also pre-cut portions. Being the thrifty person that I am, the first place I searched was the Clearance section. I already had a color scheme in mind: something in the blue and green range. There were so many choices to be made, but I ultimately narrowed it down to these two:

Ikat patterns seem to be a pretty popular trend these days, but I knew I had wanted to go for this type of pattern and color scheme after seeing the gorgeous curtains that Sherry Petersik made on one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love. The first pattern really seemed to be closer to the inspiration fabric, but at $110 for just 5 yards, it was a little pricey. The second fabric, however, was marked down to $4.95/yd! As much as I loved the versatile colors in the first, I just couldn't bring myself to spend over $100 on curtains. On just one window. The other fabric is just as pretty, and for the price I just couldn't pass it up. 6 yards of it found it's way into my cart, and before I knew it, I was hitting the "confirm order" button. 

Not only are the prices amazing on Fabric Guru, the shipping time was also lightning fast. I ordered this fabric late on a Thursday night, and found the package on my doorstep the following Tuesday. Overall, I am extremely pleased with my purchase, however there are a few things to note. First, the color is a little off from what I had expected, to be honest. That's one thing you'll have to take into consideration when ordering something online, though. The fabric color is described as teal, however, it appears to be more on the greenish end of that spectrum than the blue. I am not disappointed by any means, in fact, I kind of prefer the greenish tone to the teal. It's pretty unique. The second thing to note was something that Fabric Guru made apparent on the item listing, and was one of the reasons the fabric had been marked so low. There were random white spots in the fabric, and it was considered a defect. To be honest, I was a little nervous about buying something "defective", but my worries were squashed when I unraveled the bolt. You can't even really tell that it is a defect. In fact, it looks like part of the pattern. Another happy "accident". Here's a quick photo I snagged with my Ipad after unpacking the goods:

The quality of the picture isn't the best, but I think the fabric is going to make some beautiful curtain panels, and perhaps a pillow cover or two with any leftover fabric. If you're in the market for some excellent, cheap fabric for curtains, pillows, or anything else, you have got to check out what FabricGuru.com has to offer. Hopefully in the next few weeks, I'll be able to update this post with some finished curtain panels, and you'll be able to get a better glimpse at the beautiful teal Ikat design. Maybe I'll be able to help throw in a tutorial on easy-sew curtain panels, too. 

Who else is down with fabulous, cheap fabric for DIY projects? Do you have any great online or local resources to suggest? Have any great tips for making custom curtain panels? Please share them with us! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I've got the blues...

The Kraft Macaroni and Cheese blues, that is. Every time I walk through the living room I want to sing that catchy jingle like the adorable kids on the commercial. I eluded in my previous post that the owners of this house had a thing for painting the walls to match the curtains. We've discovered that trend in five of the seven rooms in this house, but the living room was certainly the boldest color choice made overall. Unfortunately I didn't get an up-close shot of  it, but get a load of the awesome olive drapery with gold and orange vine detail.

In all reality, the drapes weren't that awesome. Actually, they were spider egg-sac infested, dusty, and clawed up from the owner's cats. I put this poor thing out of its misery, and packed it away in a box along with the mustard braided tie-backs. 

One of the awesome features the living room boasts is the working fireplace that is in the middle of the room. Unfortunately, it's looking a tad 70's chic at the moment with the psychedelic yellow and orange paint, and the outdated red brick. It won't take much to take this baby from looking drab to fab, though. I like the idea of a contrasting paint the owner's had going on, however it is MUCH too bright a color for my taste. I also think it takes away the attention of the beautiful woodwork that is throughout the room rather than highlighting it. Just look at that beautiful, original mantle. 

Feast your eyes on those french doors. Not one set, but TWO! The first set on your left leads out to the enclosed front sun room, and the second pair at the rear lead into the foyer of the front entryway. I'll have to admit that this room, despite its garish colors "sold" me on the house. It has so much potential! Looking back through these pictures remind me of how small and narrow the space appeared because of the color choice in here.  It was definitely the first room on my list for renovation. Here's what a little bit of paint has done for the space, and how she looks now:

I can't tell you how much lighter and open this room feels because of something as simple as paint! We chose Glidden's "Swiss Coffee" in a satin finish, and just love how well it compliments the woodwork. It is also a forgiving hue throughout the light changes of the day. I was a little worried that the space may appear too neutral at first. I was even surprised that I found myself gravitating towards such a light color considering that I had spent the last 5 years in military housing that was completely devoid of color. Somehow, though, this just felt right, and I am looking forward to bringing in lots of color through accessories. 

I played musical chairs for a few hours with our furniture until I achieved a placement that felt right. The room is rectangular, and because of the placement of the fireplace and french doors, it can be a tricky fit; especially for our furniture. At first, our sofa and loveseat were at the opposite end of the room, but it seemed pretty unbalanced. I then split up the bulky pieces between each side of the room. The sofa and large coffee table on one side, and the loveseat, oversized chair, and ottoman on the other. 

I'll admit that I hadn't realized how oversized our furniture really is until now. I love it although the couch is in desperate need of new seat foam, but the microfiber has been extremely forgiving. Something we could not say for the living room set we previously owned-- a lovely red couch and chaise that did not last more than 18 months. It was extreme disappointment to say the least considering we had spent nearly $1600 on that "investment". The only thing to remain from that purchase are the two end tables on either side of our chair. Even they have seen better days, but at least they fared better than the matching coffee table who's legs were snapped off when it was pushed into a wall. The lesson we found through that experience is that you get what you pay for. Cheap furniture usually doesn't last. 

This room has evolved so much, but we are far from done. The fireplace has yet to be painted, and the large window at the end of the room is in desperate need of curtains. There are also a lot of finishing touches that I have planned for the space such as mantle decor, updating some of the fixtures, and artwork. 

So what do you think of the big changes that a little paint has made? Doesn't it look a million times better already? How about you? Are you a believer in the power of paint? Have a space you want to share with us? We'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This Old House of Ours...

Last time we left you on a bit of a cliffhanger as to what our house looked like, but I thought you'd find the anticipation to be worth it.  Besides, we've got a lot of ground (and photos) to cover. I didn't want to make it too lengthy of a post, and the house certainly deserves it's very own chapter in this book of ours. :)

Lets just start off by giving you an idea as to what we were looking for when we were window shopping rentals. We wanted a 3 bedroom at minimum. It's nice for us to each have a space that is ours, and a separate place for guests to stay that could also function as an office. It was also necessary that our new home include a garage. We have a classic car that is in need of some tender loving restoration, and having a place to work on her (and her pieces) is important. The third thing we looked for in our potential home was that it had a yard-- preferably a fenced one. We have two four-legged fur babies that need a place to run and play just as much as our daughter does. Giving them a place that they could run around safely is a must. Finally, we needed all of this to fit within our measly budget.

So that's it. The four major things we were looking for. The first thing we did was hop in the car and go "sign hunting". It was helpful for us to see what kind of neighborhoods we would be surrounded by, and also gave us a lay of the land. I also checked Craigslist, a few rental search engines, and local real estate listings. We viewed a few places before settling on the one we ultimately choose-- it ended up being a property we hadn't even seen online. Here are a few pictures from move-in day.

View from the front

View from the rear including the yard

Two car garage

This house has undergone quite a few changes over the years. The front porch was obviously converted to an enclosed sun-room, and new upgrades consisting of laminate flooring and newer kitchen cupboards were installed. Not to mention, the house and it's interior have been painted a multitude of crazy colors. Take for example our awesome mac and cheese living room below:

Groovy, isn't it? The dark hardwood accents are totally awesome, though, and they carry through this room and into the dining room. In fact, each side has a swank little cupboard built into the gorgeous woodwork. The dining room features new laminate flooring, and has a chandelier hanging at brow level in the middle of the room. It was quite the obstacle before we moved our furniture into the house and positioned the table below it. Another swanky feature the dining room provides is a nice little built in "bar" tucked into the corner. I'll highlight more about that in a future post. 

I've deduced that the owners of the house are very fond of matching the walls to the curtains. They did it in the living room, and they've done it again in the kitchen. It's the only explanation I can come up with for the primary color overload. The new features that our kitchen boasts are a blonde wood laminate floor, newer appliances, and newer kitchen cupboards that feature pull-out drawers below and a frosted front glass above. 

This is probably the largest master bedroom we have inhabited yet. It also boasts a giant walk-in closet that has more than enough room for the two of us. The cappuchino walls are also a lot more calming than some of the paintwork downstairs, so I am relieved that this room won't need much overhauling. 

The other two bedrooms are significantly smaller than our previous house. This room is directly across from the master bedroom. Originally we had put our daughter in this room until we were able to overhaul the other. Due to the layout, it's slightly smaller than the other. Check out the chocolate brown wall and matching curtains. Detect that theme yet?

Finally we come to the last bedroom. I've affectionately referred to this space as "The Blueberry Room". While it is slightly larger in size than the other, we put this room under quarantine until I could remove the smelly carpet and paint the walls. This space was, in a word, DISGUSTING. The owners had several cats, and you could definitely smell it. This entire room has been overhauled, so stay tuned for the transformation. 

The bathroom is probably the most updated space in the house. Not only does it have a new sink, vanity, and toilet, but the floors are a decent stone tile. Unfortunately it's a little small and it's the only commode in the house. There is a small towel closet behind the door, but other than that there is limited storage space. We're going to have to get creative in here. 

Last, but certainly not least, is the front enclosed sun room. This room had previously been the front porch of the house, and was later enclosed with wall-to-wall windows. We're looking forward to filling this place up with more green and using the space as a game room. 

So there you have it. Our house. We've already begun to overhaul and make some changes, and we're looking forward to sharing our projects and ideas with you. My list is a mile long, so get ready! Who's down for a little transformation? :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Just the beginning...

Change. We all go through it. Some of us more than others. Being a military family, change happens often for us, and it is something that we have learned to embrace. After moving as often as we have, we've been pretty good about rolling with the punches. It's an opportunity for a fresh start, a chance to see new places, and make new friends. It also challenges us to grow as a family even when family is thousands of miles away.

In the last month, our family has hopped on that trolley of change once again. We packed our things and hit the road, traveling from Texas to upstate New York. It was sad to leave behind some great friends we had made over the nearly three years we lived there, but we were eager to start a new adventure. And thanks to media resources like Facebook, we can always stay in touch.

My husband, our 4 year old daughter, and myself. 

Getting settled in a new place takes time. It has also been a different experience each time we have moved so far. This is also the first time in four years that we aren't living on a military installation. There are a lot of positive aspects to living on base-- less travel time to work, community privileges, etc. But there are also some downsides to living in government housing. Limited availability, some of the housing communities are old and outdated, and the challenges of making the space you are given "your own."  We always opted to make do with the dingy white walls because we felt it wasn't worth the effort of having to restore everything back to its original condition before we moved out. To be honest, it seriously cramped my style! After years of faithfully browsing DIY blogs, I longed to have a place that I could unload my arsenal of Pinterest creativity on. With another decade or so to go until my husband decides to retire, we felt as though home ownership wasn't a good option for us at this time. This left us with choosing on-base housing, or trying to find a home within the surrounding community that met our needs. Thankfully we were able to make the latter  happen.

Can anybody else relate?

My husband and I are looking forward to starting this transition; turning just a house into our home (even if it is only temporary). We've even struck the jackpot in terms of easy-going landlords. They have given us a great amount of liberty to make changes to the property (within reason). Both of us being fans of blogs, we thought that we would bring you all along for the wild ride and start one of our own.

If you've stumbled upon our little page, thanks for stopping by. Check back often as we go into more detail of our home, and the many plans we have in store. We'll probably be asking just as many questions (if not more) than we might be able to answer! This is our first time both blogging and taking on the DIY projects we have in mind. We'd love to have some feedback, too, so don't be shy! Leave us a comment!