Monday, December 3, 2012

Cheap blinds

We were in need of blinds for the girls' rooms to block out the light during nap time and to block the super bright yard lights of some of our neighbors. But we are also on a super budget due to the whole owning two houses issue so what is a girl to do? Well after she spends a few trips drooling over the cellular blinds at the store that would cost over a hundred buckeroos for just the three most important windows, she wanders around and stumbles upon window magic.

I did not know these things existed but they make temporary paper blinds that you can just cut to size and stick up in your window. We paid less than $15 to cover our three windows and they look so much better from the outside. It's all about the curb appeal baby! I found them at Lowes but I'm sure they have them everywhere they sell blinds. Maybe.

It took maybe five minutes per window to cut them down to size and then stick them up. They come with double stick tape on one side but this one fell down after about a week so I also stuck tacks in there to hold a little better. I think the overzealous application of texture in this house contributed to it falling down but I would still consider tack or staples wherever you are putting these just so you don't have to think about them again.

They also came with two small white clips that you use to hold the shades up if you want that delightful sunlight in your room. It takes a little longer to gather up the folds than just pulling a string but it doesn't bother me at all, especially as a temporary solution. I think if we were to live in this house for a long time we would eventually replace these shades with something nicer but we both know that this house isn't going to be our forever home so we are willing to live with some less expensive options here and there.
You can't tell from outside that these are made of paper and they block a lot of light. They also had white ones that just diffuse the light and they had black ones that block all light but I didn't think that black would look great from the street and the gray looks really nice. Someday I'll get the goo gone out and take off those window stickers but they are on every window and it's just such a project that I can't make myself do it. I have a recipe pinned for a homemade goo gone with coconut oil that I want to try because I despise the smell and feel of goo gone. Maybe if I get around to making that, I'll get excited about peeling off stickers and not be so annoyed at the person who SHOULD have peeled them off months ago when the windows were installed when it would have been easy.

What's your favorite hardware store discovery? Because this is at the top of my list right now. I love finding a solution that works for me and it so much less costly than what I thought was my only option! Did you notice that I'm using sheets as curtains and I didn't bother to hem them yet? I'll tell you all about that sometime.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lookin' sharp

One of the biggest concerns that comes along with painting accent walls and transitions between colors is that of bleeding. Obviously you will not be gushing blood, I'm talking about the bleeding that almost always occurs when you try to get a sharp line using painters tape. It doesn't matter what brand of tape you use, in order to peel neatly off the surface it is adhered to, painter's tape is made only slightly sticky so it doesn't rip off the paint underneath. This leads to a little bit of bleeding no matter how careful you are. And trying to go without the tape is only for those with surgeon-steady hands and perfect line painting skilz. That is not me.

So I was ecstatic to see a tutorial on another blog showing just how to get that sharp line I was looking for in the master bedroom where I needed to do an accent wall. Check out House of Hepworths, she has some other projects that I have used and I like a thrifty gal! (Sidenote: You know what's not fun? Searching through several Pinterest boards three times each looking for the pin that bring me to that link only to finally find it near the top of one of them. Why didn't I see it the first or second time through? Gah!) So if you go to that link, you'll know exactly what I did and see better photos of the actual process but I'll just summarize it here for you if you're too lazy to click through or don't plan to do any accent wall anytime soon and don't need the full info.

Basically you tape off your line, paint the edge/corner the color of the wall you are transitioning from. In my case that was the pink I had previously painted on the other wall. Let that dry fully and then paint your accent wall or transition. When your final coat of the second color is still wet, slowly pull your tape off and reveal the beautifully sharp line you have made. Marvel at your mad skilz and write a blog post about it just so people can see how awesome you are. It really is the little things that I get excited about.

In this photo the wall actually looks peach like I wanted originally but in person it reads a lot more pink than I had hoped. I have since apologized to the mister for painting his bedroom pink and he said "What? It's not every man's dream to sleep in a pink and purple room?" He truly doesn't care and I'm sure after the first day he has never even noticed the color again but pink and purple really aren't his jam. Oh well.

But seriously, how happy does that sharp line make you? Because I like to just stare at it for awhile here and there. I probably should have waited to take the photos until after the paint was dry but I am not known for my patience so you'll forgive the splotchy purpleness of drying paint.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Valspar Ultra review

I used Valspar Ultra paint + primer in Peach Champagne to paint over a dark tan in our bedroom and was surprised by the difference in the experience I had using the same brand of paint in Pronghorn to paint over the same color in our living room. I know that the tones in Pronghorn were a lot closer to the tan but I didn't expect it to perform so poorly with a lighter color when they specifically advertise as a paint + primer in one.

Now, this title of paint + primer is misleading because in regular decorating settings, you can use any color of paint as a primer. So instead of using a coat of primer plus two coats of color, you can use three coats of color to achieve basically the same results most of the time. The only times that you really require an actual primer are in places where mold and mildew are a concern (in which case you would want to use something such as Kilz) and where the color you are covering is very bold. You also want to use a proper primer when you have put up new drywall because the drywall will suck up regular paint like nobody's business. At my local home improvement center, they do have a paper taped to the paint counter that explains how you just use an extra coat as a primer coat but I think the choice to put paint + primer on the can is a poor one. But nobody asked me.

In the Pronghorn color, I was able to use two coats to get the coverage I was looking for and I probably could have edged two coats and rolled one if I went a little heavier with the roller. In Peach Champagne, I needed to do three heavy coats on the edging and two heavy coats on the rest to get decent coverage. I actually would have liked to roll on a third coat just to get a pure tone but I am so tired of painting already and still have at least five rooms to get to. Six if I ever decide what color to paint the hall bathroom. Maybe by the time I finish the next room I'll just be numb and won't hate it so much.

I thought maybe I was just being crabby about paint but last night I finished a wall of the peach and this morning I started a wall of Behr's Cougar and it was not crankiness, I really just prefer Behr Premium Plus in every way. It goes on smoother and thicker and I think it has the same amount of odor as the supposed low odor Valspar. We just purchased two different colors of Valspar Signature paint so I'll let you know if that is any better than the Ultra. If they aren't better, I will for sure be searching reviews for another brand that is closer to my current fave.

Oh, and you know how I was considering doing an accent wall in the master bedroom? Well, fate took it out of my hands by running out of paint on the third wall. I wasn't about to go buy more when I had over 2/3 of a gallon of the purple just sitting there so viola, accent wall.

What's your favorite line of paint? Have you found there to be a big difference between lines under the same brand name? I'm really hoping this Signature works out better.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What's funnier than being tickled?

Being tickled pink! -Pinkalicious

I chose what I thought was an almost neutral shade of peach for our bedroom because I liked how it looked with the purple that I used in our bathroom nook. It wasn't a color I had ever imagined using in my bedroom but the two times I was in the store looking at paint chips I kept coming back to that combination so I decided to just go for it. The color is peach champagne in Valspar Ultra Paint + Primer (here's a link to their ceiling paint Valspar Brand Ultra Premium Interior Latex Ceiling Paint 27-1420 GL - Pack of 4 (Google Affiliate Ad)) and it turned out to be a very pink shade of peach. On the up side, my skin looks tan compared to my walls but since I am so pale I'm see-through it just tells you how light the color is. Because I'm used to a much darker bedroom that feels more restful, it's a little jarring to me to be surrounded by such a bright and perky color but maybe it will work out in our favor by making us feel more awake in the mornings. I am going to do one accent wall of the same purple I used in our bathroom nook just to tone down the brightness a little but I'm a little worried it will just serve to make the room look even more girly.

I need to find a way to make our bedroom seem a little more manly. I currently have our old glider chair in the bedroom and am considering recovering (or purchasing a new cover off Etsy if they exist) it in a more masculine fabric. Our bedding is all one color with no pattern but perhaps next time we replace the comforter I should also look for something mantastic. We tend to purchase a new comforter every year when they have amazing sales around Christmas time because it's cheaper than having one professionally cleaned. I've tried washing comforters in our home machines and at a laundromat where they have larger machines but they just never come out of the wash the same and the husband is so choosey about our bedding that it is so much easier to go with something inexpensive that we know we like.

How do decorate your shared spaces? I welcome any suggestions for replacing my fake orchid with something with a little more testosterone as long as I can veer more towards smoking parlour and away from neon beer signs. Whether he likes it or not, we need to stop decoration like it's our first apartment and invest in items with more class.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Work it out

Does it matter to you if the place you exercise is pretty? I've been trying to decide if it matters to me or not but I can't find a tie breaker between liking pretty things and being too lazy to care about the corner of the garage where we keep the elliptical. This also leads me to the question of whether or not I'm going to paint the garage at all. When I build out the mudroom area I want it to be organized and functional but I'm not sure if it's necessary to go beyond that.

The garage is an area of the house that most people will never see. The reason I want to store the family shoes/coats/gloves there is because I'd love to have the space in the front entry to accommodate the items of any guests that should ever need to visit. So it should be very rare that we have guests in the garage but do we only decorate our homes for other people? I wonder how much of what we do with our own space is meant to impress and posture for those we invite to visit. I know that we've come a very long way from our homes being just a functional source of shelter but have we come too far? I wish that I could say that I decorate my home only so that I can enjoy it but that isn't the truth. I seek validation in my choices and I care way too much what others think of where I placed that decorative gourd or this bowl. Not that it makes a difference in the grand scheme of home decor who my audience is. I'm still going to enjoy pretty spaces no matter who I'm creating them to impress.

If you use it as a functional space, have you decorated your garage? Do you think it's a waste of paint to change the color of a place where you mainly just enter and exit and get stinky and sweaty? If I do paint in there, my goal will be to stay with a much more masculine pallet because my poor husband has to put up with a bedroom that turned out to be a little more pink than I pictured it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Temporary shoe solution

My goal is to build a fantastic mudroom wall in our garage so that we can leave all our shoes and coats and things out there as we enter the house. My goal will not be happening until I get my arse in gear and unpack the rest of the boxes that are filling my garage right now. It's an elaborate game of shuffle the boxes from one place to another so that eventually I can assemble the awesome tote storage shelf my dad built for us. Once the shelf is assembled then I can figure out which totes go on the shelf and which go into the attic.

Sidenote: I've never had attic storage and wonder how worried I need to be about bugs and such. Do I need to super tape every tote or should they be fine? I'm planning to put holiday things up there so I only have to haul one or two up and down at a time but I just don't like bugs in my things.

So while my garage is a giant disaster and nobody is parking in there or storing their beloved shoes in there, I needed a temporary way to mitigate the shoesplosion that was happening in our entryway.
This was the very cheapest and easiest way to keep the pile by our front door from getting out of control. I just went to Dollar Tree (I love them because everything really is $1, not like other pretend dollar stores. Why call yourself a dollar store when things are $3.75?) and picked up six of these little baskets. They had them in several colors but I like the muted tones of the plum and green and the plum reminds me of our living room walls in the old house. You only see four here because I stuffed my two in the entry closet and they don't even begin to hold my shoe collection. But these baskets are a great size for my husband and kids' shoes. Although baby W (do you read that 'dubya' because that's how I say it in my head) seems to have about seven pairs of shoes too many. Having three girls sometimes leaves you with way too many of something in a particular size.

Do you buy more storage as your shoe collection grows or are you actually able to get rid of shoes now and then? I'm trying to be more realistic about purses but I just can't stop loving shoes. When we sell our old house I am celebrating with a pair of boots that I've had my eye on for months now.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Photo arrangement

I know you've seen this photo arrangement if you use Pinterest at all but I'll share it here in case you don't have that particular addiction. I can't nail down the original source but my pin comes from Martha Stewart and her team may be the first to think of this.

I have been planning to do this for awhile and originally had planned to place it in the hallway but ended up with a large blank wall in the living room that I painted orange. Orange does not look good at all with the large painting I had been planning to put on that wall so it was a lot of blank space next to a busy built in shelf. Along came the photo arrangement.

I thought I was going to be able to put far more photos up above and below the first rows but it got way too cluttered looking very quickly so I ended up taking down five more frames that I had up. So much better this way! I sort of wish I had bothered to evenly space the frames left to right but things shouldn't be so perfect all the time. I also need to put up some more recent photos one of these days but since the youngest two look identical as babies, we can just pretend some of those photos include baby W.

I tried to put the center line of the arrangement around my eye level. I'm about 5'5" so this leaves all the photos at a comfortable viewing level for most people while being high enough to be out of the reach of little fingers. It also leaves me the potential to put a console table on this wall below the photos if I wanted to.
Please ignore the blaringly obvious vaccuum handle there. I'm too congested to care at all about moving it out of the way or editing it out. Again, this paint color looks sickly green on my screen but I promise it's a very warm orange. I'll color correct next time I take photos so I can stop apologizing for it. The first photo looks a lot truer to life than this second one.

Would you have taken the time to space them evenly? What am I going to do with the thirty or so frames I have left? Oy! There are way too many choices in weather stripping.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spackle is one of my favorite words

I did not get much accomplished over the weekend. I've been in a funk partly because the husband has been sick and partly because I'm coming down with the same cold but I think mostly because this house isn't HOME yet. The kids and I spent a lot of time staying with my parents over the summer and this feels a lot like that. At their house I had free reign to use all the appliances and throw my stuff wherever (not that they loved that) and was very comfortable but it never has that feeling you get when you walk into your own home.

I know that moving 1000 miles and into a new house takes a little time to adjust to and I didn't expect it to happen over night but I guess I expected my furniture and my stuff to carry some of that feeling of home along with it. When we're in the house, it really doesn't feel like we're so very far away from where we came from because our routine can be very much the same. But this place just isn't ours yet. We haven't made memories here yet and we don't have traditions here and I have no clue where we'll put the Christmas tree. So that has led me down the rabbit hole of depression and crippling anxiety. But enough about feelings, back to the projects.

This morning I went around filling all of the many larger holes in the walls and ceilings with spackle. I used smart brand non-shrink wall fix because they didn't have my regular brand and type in the smaller container I wanted. I purchased it because I liked that it advertised itself as zero VOC (go here to see why this is preferable) and virtually odorless. The husband has issues with fumes and so I try to go with low odor products whenever I'll be working on something indoors. Because it sounded like such a wonderful product, I was very sad to find out that I didn't like it at all. This could be that fact that I have years of experience using Dap CrackShot (Dap 1 Quart CrackShot Spackling Interior-Exterior 12378 (Google Affiliate Ad)) and it is what my dad always used. No matter the reason, I felt that this Smart spackle was too fluffy and lightweight. It felt very dry to the touch and didn't really stay in the holes as I tried to fill them. I'm used to something much more sticky that stays where you put it. Also, I thought it smelled terrible but that could have something to do with my cold.

I need to do a second coat on a few of the holes so I'll let you know if I change my mind, but at this point I would recommend CrackShot, not this garbage. I also noticed that Dap has a newer spackle that goes on purple and dries to white. I'd be interested in trying that one but I wonder if it would make it harder to tell when the hole is well filled.

Have you tried any of these products? Do you have a different spackling compound that you like better? I have a little decorating project to show you tomorrow and then I need to work on weather stripping my exterior doors.

*I should note that the links that say (google affiliate ad) would potentially make me a few sheckles if you bought something but none of my posts have been sponsored and, even if they ever were, all of my opinions are going to be as honest as it gets. I only post the links so you can see a picture of what I'm talking about so it's easier to find at your hardware store.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Making a cheap curtain rod shorter

Part of owning two houses, however temporarily we hope it may be, is learning to use what you have even when it really doesn't work. In other words, make things work. I used this philosophy while hanging the curtains from our old house in our new living room. The windows here are shaped differently and there are three here compared to two at the old place but for whatever reason it worked out perfectly that I didn't need to buy any new curtains at this time. Eventually I will either need new curtains or new blinds as these are only sheers but having an 8 ft fence around the house helps a little.

The biggest problem I ran into with using the items I already had on hand was that I had several of the cheap metal curtain rods and two of them were so long they would have fit windows twice as wide as what I needed them for. Now some people would have just spent a few dollars to buy new ones that were the right size but it was raining and I didn't feel like leaving the house and I had sheetrock dust on my pants so I decided to make it work.

 I used a wire cutter snippy tool that MAY actually be a tin snip but not a very good one if that's what it actually is so I'm going to call it a wire cutter. It takes a little muscle and a lot of wiggling with each tiny tiny snip you make but it worked well enough to eventually get through the metal and then bend the end back into shape. I had to take quite a bit off so I needed to cut both the inner and the outer rods but there is a small plastic piece on the outer one that you can see in the first picture that hides any ugly ends. Slide the two pieces back together and you're in business!

This would have been even easier with an actual tin snip like this one Great Neck Saw 10in. Aviation Tin Snip 17623 (Google Affiliate Ad) so if you have access to one, please use that for heavens sakes. My second picture shows how bent out of shape the excess piece got and how ragged the end of the actual rod was and I think these would have been better with a sharper tool but it really didn't matter in the long run.

Have you ever fabricated a curtain rod to fit your space? Have you seen the pinterest photos using pipes and fittings for curtain rods? I wish I didn't have curtain rods on hand so I could do something like that.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Couch shopping

This is my very first attempt at a mood board and I obviously need a little more time to make them look as nice as the ones I've seen on other sites but you'll get the gist of it. I recently painted my living room with Valspar Pronghorn. Although it looks terrible on my screen right now, it is a warm gingery orange that we have all been loving. Unfortunately, we sold a lot of our living room furniture before we moved and we have not closed on the sale of our old house so we aren't in a position to buy new furniture right now. So I'm sitting on a 20 year old love seat looking at our old nursery rocker and my husband's recliner which may or may not have to go eventually. It's not pretty but it gives us a place to sit until we can find something new. These are far prettier!

The biggest factors in our search for new seating are going to be comfort versus looks. We like to watch tv and we like to be comfortable while doing it. The last sectional that we purchased, mostly because it was inexpensive, never really worked out like we had hoped. We bought it thinking that the whole family would be able to sit there and hang out and in reality I was the only person who ever sat there. Also, it was not very comfortable and compressed where you sat so there were distinct butt prints all the time.

We won't be going for another sectional because it just didn't work out but also because it wouldn't work with the layout of our living room. I'm considering a couch, a chair, and either a loveseat or a chair-and-a-half. We're planning to look in our town because we prefer to spend our money locally but we'll probably end up making a trip to a couple larger towns nearby just to make sure we're not settling for something we don't love.

Are you shopping for furniture? What are your biggest considerations when looking for a couch? We know that scotch guarding pays for itself many times over when you have kids so we'll for sure be going with something similar again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Living in a flipped house

The house we recently moved into was purchased inexpensively from HUD and then remodeled and resold to us in less than 3 months. We have heard from neighbors that the man who flipped the house has done work in a few different states on similar projects and that doesn't surprise me. In many ways he did a good job at what he was trying to do.

The neighbors have told us that the house was all but destroyed before he purchased it. All the windows were broken and the walls had holes in them and I can only imagine what else. Our house is in a nice neighborhood surrounded by well kept homes and yards so it was the perfect opportunity for a flipper. I understand that his goal was to get the job done quickly and make as much money as possible on the deal and that leads to a certain degree of carelessness when it comes to finish work.

All of our interior doors are hung incorrectly and are difficult to close. The tile work is sloppy around the edges and either has missing grout or has excess and looks messy. The trim and doors were all primed (I assume they were purchased that way) but it doesn't appear they were painted at all or caulked at the joints. The wall painted was only one coat and was applied poorly so there are white spots and the edging looks streaky and there are even spots that weren't painted at all.

A lot of these things aren't an issue because I am planning to paint most of the walls but it would be nice not to have to paint ALL the trim work. I did that at our last house and it is not awesome. Many of the doorknobs were loose and that only took a few minutes and a screwdriver to tighten up. The exterior doors do not have any weather stripping which might be a regional thing but will need to be remedied before we get pests or snow in the house where they don't belong.

I guess the point is just buyer beware. If you aren't DIY inclined and don't know enough about home improvement to tackle fixing the things that get skipped during a flip, you'll need to figure the cost of repairs into your purchase price. When you are interested in a house, ask your realtor to check when it was last purchased and the price paid. If the house has brand new finishes and was recently purchased for quite a bit less than the asking price, you are most likely looking at a flipped house and, with all the flipping shows on tv these days, you might be getting someone's first attempt which may mean less than stellar work.

Have you considered flipping houses? Have you ever lived in a house that was flipped? I am planning to test for my realtor's license and my father builds houses so it's something we've talked about many many times.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Removing sliding glass shower doors

One of my first projects at the new Tull house was to remove the glass shower doors in our hall bathroom. I have never liked how sliding glass shower doors look and they are impractical for many reasons. I do like the newer style frameless glass doors but those are not what I had here. My biggest concern is that they made things difficult for the kids. Our 9 year old struggled to open and close them. Our 3 year old hurt her feet getting into and out of the tub. And our 1 year old splashed water into the bottom track which made me cringe at the thought of how disgusting it was under there. So they had to go. I wish I had pictures of this process for you but didn't decide to write a blog until after I was mostly done with the project. Oops! Have I mentioned that my planning often leaves something to be desired?

The first step was to take down the sliders. It's best to stand inside the tub while doing this. On my doors, the inner door was attached at the bottom by two small screws and once these were off it was easy to lift the door off the upper lip and then tilt it out. The outer door was only hanging on that upper lip so it just lifted and tilted out. Once the doors are removed is when the actual work begins.

Most shower doors will be attached with either small screws or some sort of adhesive. In my case, the installer used a boatload of silicone which made things difficult. First you will need to remove the top of the door frame. For me, this meant using a sharp utility knife to slice through the silicone that attached this top bar. You will want to be careful not to scratch the finish on your tub and tub surround. Once you've sliced through the sealant, just shove the top rail up and off. I used the top of my hammer to push it up part way and then had to twist and turn it a little to get the silicone to let go.

The next step if to remove the two side rails. I needed to remove three screws from each side, slice through the silicone carefully, and then pull and twist. The bottom rail should be attached with just the sealant.

The next step is to remove all the sealant left on your tub and surround with a scraper or razor blade. My biggest problem with this project has been the fact that silicone is a tool of the devil and does NOT want to come off anything. Whoever installed my shower door used way too much and spread it really thin to disguise the excess, making it super hard to remove. I have scraped until my hands bled and googled solutions for hours. I tried using magic erasers which helped a little but after I had gone through two, I wasn't making any significant progress. My next step is to try using acetone and then WD40. If neither of those work then I might try a silicone removal product from the home improvement store. I'm hoping I don't have to go that far because it sounds like the products made to remove silicone will ruin my fiberglass tub. My tub is discolored and scratched up from the shower door and, I assume, the installer so this isn't the biggest concern I've ever had but I'd like to keep the damage to a minimum if possible.

Have you had any luck removing silicone? Anybody out there updating a bathroom? I'd love to hear any solutions you have for me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

About me

So you'd like to know a little about me? I feel like this post could change on a weekly basis but we'll start with some things about who I am today.

I'm in my mid-twenties, married, mother of three. I had my first baby as a single teen mother and my experiences as a mother have been different in many ways with each child.

I enjoy home improvement, decorating, acting, modelling, reading, and sometimes cooking. I listen to country music, but please don't hold that against me! I am very particular but also super lazy so life annoys me but I struggle to do anything about it. I regularly run into walls and trip over my own feet. I try my best to be as eco-friendly as possible while not spending too much money or putting forth too much effort.

My family and I just moved 15 hours away from everyone we've ever known and are figuring out how to get around in a new town and trying to make our new house a home. Hopefully you'll enjoy following along as I do just that.


Welcome to the House at Tull Corner. I'm Heather Tull and I'll be your flight attendant for today. I hope that this can become a place where we can trade DIY advice and ideas, have conversations that start with "I saw this on Pinterest", and share some ideas on raising better kids in a better world.