Mini One Room Challenge update #1

Vine flushmount light fixture

There are three weeks left in the official One Room Challenge. And three weeks left in my personal mini-ORC, also known as mission finish the office.

Already the motivation of the ORC is working. I had a very productive weekend, and I’m excited to see the finishing touches for the office coming together.

Here’s the to-do list update:

  • Buy and install light fixture
  • Unpack remaining boxes and organize china cabinet
  • Style china cabinet shelves
  • Sort and file paperwork
  • Install gallery wall #1
  • Install gallery wall #2
  • Reupholster seat of wooden chair

As you can see from the photo above, I have a proper light fixture now. I’ve envisioned this light fixture in the office for a long time. I second guessed myself for a moment when I finally bought it, but now that it’s installed it’s perfect. I love the dark metal and the vines and the crystals.

It’s kind of fun and a bit of a different experience to decorate a room completely for myself.

Something that’s also entirely for me is the gallery wall you see behind the light fixture. I’ll share more about that in a couple of weeks when I post the final the reveal.

Another personal favourite is the Brissac Jewel fabric by P Kaufmann that I used on my bulletin board and slipper chair. It’s making another appearance, this time on a wooden chair that past owners left at the farm.

Upholstering this chair hadn’t been part of the original plan for the office, but I couldn’t let this chair go (I have a thing for chairs). Covering a slip seat is a whole lot easier than upholstering the slipper chair. Pulling all of the staples out of the old upholstery probably took longer than adding the new fabric.

The dark wood and the bright fresh fabric look so nice against the white desk and turquoise walls.

Sewing desk

A major perk of the ORC is it ensures I complete all of the little details of a makeover. Details like paint touch-ups (which were also part of my weekend) and upholstering this chair.

It’s those little details that make a room come together. I’m thankful to finally be at that point with the office. Just a little more to go. We’re getting there.

So are all of the other bloggers that are participating officially in the ORC. Even though I’m not linking up, I encourage you to check out the other makeovers at Calling It Home. There will be new updates every Wednesday and Thursday until May 10.

Have you ever decorated a room just for you?

New upholstery for a vintage slipper chair

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

When my Mom was cleaning out my grandmother’s house, I asked if I could have the slipper chair. When my Mom showed up with a pink skirted chair, I was surprised. I actually didn’t remember ever having seen this chair before. The “slipper” chair I had in mind was a parson’s chair that had sat in my grandmother’s front hall. I ended up with that chair too–in fact it turned out to be one of a pair and I got them both in addition to the little pink slipper chair.

Yes, I have a thing for chairs.

I stripped off the pink cover and the old padding way back when we were still living at our first house. And the poor chair has sat naked in the pool room since we moved here to the farm. (I still had the pink cover balled up in a plastic bag. I slipped it back on the chair for a photo op. However, with no stuffing and an extreme number of wrinkles, the chair, which was already pretty sad, looks really, really sad.)

Reupholstering a slipper chair

I’ve always envisioned the slipper chair being part of my office, so now that that makeover is underway, it was finally time to give the slipper chair a new life.

This was a totally start from scratch scenario. I had the wood frame of the chair and that was it.

Wood frame of a slipper chair

This was also a totally make it up as I go scenario. I am not experienced in upholstery and am–like many people–a bit intimidated by it.

So I just dove in. I stained the legs to a dark brown. I covered the seat with some foam, and then put more foam on the back. I covered it all with batting, mashing it around the corners. I stapled, stapled and stapled.

Reupholstering a slipper chair

Then I covered it all with an old sheet, stapling the heck out of every fold.

Reupholstering a slipper chair

Then things got serious. I pulled out my bolt of Brissac Jewel fabric that I’ve had for longer than I’ve had the chair. There was lots of laying things out, turning them around, laying them out again, putting them back to the exact way they were before. And then doing it all over again. Once I finally figured out how to place the fabric, I then spent a lot of time stuffing material around the legs and trying to get the folds just right–or right enough.

Reupholstering a slipper chair

Reupholstering a slipper chair

I made my own piping and used flexible metal tack strip (plygrip) for the first time (this video was very helpful).

Reupholstering a slipper chair

I built my grip strength using my vintage manual staple gun–seriously, I’m almost ready for American Ninja Warrior. My fingertips are still tender. If I take on more upholstery, I would invest in an air powered staple gun. However, a project like this can be done with very basic tools–and very basic skills.

I covered up the messy underside with another piece of the sheet (although the packing crate that was used for the seat is pretty cool–I wonder what went to Montreal via Halifax).

Stamped wood on the underside of the vintage slipper chair

Underside of the slipper chair

My grandmother grew up in her family’s furniture store and reupholstered furniture regularly. She made the pink slip cover that was on the slipper chair originally. All I could think as I was working on this chair was that she would definitely have something to say about my technique if she was around. And I wish she was around to tell me how to do it right.

Right or wrong, though, it turned out pretty well. I can see the few flaws, but overall, I’m really proud.

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

I think my grandmother would be too.

Finding a home for a favourite table

Drop zone in the front entryway

Do you have a drop zone in your house? It’s one of those handy areas, usually near the entry, where you can “drop” things as you come in. Mail, keys, purse, receipts, stray paper.

Our drop zone has been set up for a long time, but I realized recently that I’d never shared it with you.

Maybe because I don’t consider this spot “done.” I continue to mull over the pieces I used in this space–and if we ever proceed with my big reno plan to move the front door, the drop zone will definitely relocate.

However, our drop zone is a great example of two of my favourite home decorating lessons: 1) buy what you like and you’ll find a way to make it work 2) use what you have. So despite thinking of this layout as temporary, it deserves a moment in the spotlight.

The standout piece is the table. This is my very first solo auction purchase. Usually I went to auctions with my parents and my Dad bought for all of us. Then one day my brother and I headed out to an auction just the two of us. When the table came on the block, I bided my time and then jumped in. I had $60 as my cutoff and went one more. I got the table for $65. (Auction lesson: most people will pick a round number for a cutoff. If you can go one more–just one more, don’t get carried away–you might be the winner.)

Carved wood table

I can’t remember exactly when I bought this, but I might have been in university–maybe even high school. For years my parents moved it around their house, trying to fit it in with their furniture.

Even when I moved out, Matt and I didn’t have a spot for it in our first house. But when we moved to the farm, this little wall was the perfect dimension for this table. See what I mean about buy what you like and it will work out?

I am totally a child of the nineties. Remember dark red cherry-ish wood? Back then, I totally envisioned a house with cherry kitchen cabinets, a cherry sleigh bed with matching dresser and nightstands. I love this dark red wood.

But one of my stumbling blocks with this table is the dark red wood. I’m not sure it really works with our house. It doesn’t seem “farmhouse” or “country” to me. I feel like I should maybe paint it. But I love the red wood. And if I don’t like it white, it will be hard to take it back to the wood thanks to all of the deep carvings.

For now, I’m happy to keep the table as it is.

The rest of this little spot is things that we already had. The basket on the bottom holds receipts. Every so often, Matt does a tally so that we keep track of all of our household expenses. The shallow wood saucer on the tabletop was made by my Dad. It’s a spot to drop mail or other papers and it usually holds a flashlight. The rest of the surface stays relatively clear. Usually my camera bag is sitting here, where it’s easy to grab.

Drop zone in the front entryway

Above the table is a little mirror that my cousin gave us for our wedding. Again, this was something that we didn’t have a place for at our first house, but it fits perfectly beside the light switches. The mirror is something else I mull over occasionally. The wall could accommodate something taller, and the gold frame doesn’t exactly say “country.” I have visions of making a simple barn board frame for a taller mirror… maybe.

Despite its shortcomings, this is a very handy spot. It saves things piling up on the kitchen island most of the time. And I’m happy to see my table finally find a home.

Do you have a drop zone at your house? What are essential features of a drop zone for you? Do you have any furniture that took awhile to find its home? Would you paint the table?

Looking back at Home Goals 2016

I have to be honest. I’m on the side that is glad to see the end of 2016. It was not my favourite year.

But there were some bright points. And before I look too far ahead into 2017, I want to take a look back at my Home Goals 2016.

I really enjoy laying these goals out at the start of every year. And I find them very helpful throughout the year to keep me on track.

This year was kind of a mix. We accomplished a lot, and I am really happy with what I can cross off the list. However, some little finishing details continue to hang around, and I couldn’t summon the motivation to finish them.

Here’s my review.

Start to plan for the big reno

I started last year by sharing some of the floorplans that we’ve been playing around with for our long term vision for this house. Through that process, I think we landed on a plan that will work best for us.

We also met with a contractor, got his input on the plans and got some very rough numbers from him about how much things will cost.

We also realized that we can easily break our plans–and our budget–down into several phases. I like knowing that we don’t have to do everything and spend all the money all at once.

The big reno, even just phase one, is likely still a little ways away, but it seems more real now that we have some drawings and numbers.

Guest room

Robin's egg blue country guest room

You know I love crossing a whole room off my list, and the guest room has been one of my favourite projects so far.

A few family members visited us in 2016, and they all liked it too. My one nephew said it was like a bed and breakfast–the kid knows how to make his aunt happy.

This is a project where one niggly finishing detail is still hanging around. I stripped the paint off the old metal bedframe way back in the summer, but I never repainted it. So this will have to go on the list for 2017.

Finish the basement

Built in shelving in a small bathroom

The basement was our very first project when we moved to the farm, but four years later I still had some niggly finishing details hanging around. The biggest detail was Matt’s bathroom, which is alllll done–and so, so pretty.

The basement ended up being the focus of an unexpected reno this year when we had to waterproof the foundation in a few areas. It was tough to redo already redone areas. I’m keeping my fingers crossed we don’t have any water seep in this spring.

While I had planned to focus on just a few small things, after redrywalling the areas that were waterproofed, I also built a new closet in the laundry room. Closets were a theme of the basement. We added a tonne of new shelves to the cold cellar and built shelves in the closet under the stairs. These areas have given us a lot of extra storage. It was great to dig out the Christmas decorations without digging through a pile of boxes first.

So there was some good productivity.

But on the niggly details front, I continue to struggle with art to finish off the basement. I know what I want and I even have frames. I just haven’t taken the time to find the pieces I’m looking for. I did make 16 personalized Scrabble tiles for the pingpong room. Having each of our family member’s initials is a touch that I really like. The rest of the art will come in 2017. I promise!

Furniture

90s bookcases as china cabinet

I didn’t buy a whole lot of new furniture this year, but what I did has been on the list for a loooong time.

Finding a third matching cabinet for the dining room was definitely the thrifting score of the year. I think it will be hard to top that one.

A close second, though, is finding a china cabinet for my office. I’ve been looking for a pretty specific piece for a long time. This hunt was a lesson in persistence and the importance of carrying furniture measurements with you everywhere.

The two other pieces of furniture on my list for 2016–making a new coffee table for the living room and reupholstering a slipper chair for my office–will carry into 2017.

Vegetable garden

Vegetable garden

The garden was a huge project this year. We invested a lot of time in it, and we saw the results.

In fact, everything that I wanted to do on my original Home Goals 2016 list, save for planting rhubarb, we did.

2016 was about a lot of the infrastructure for the garden. We finally hung the gate, put in curbs around the outside edge, built raised beds, built trellises for raspberries, tomatoes and squash, planted some perennials like grapes and asparagus, tried our first cover crop of winter rye, experimented with a deep mulch of straw, and last but absolutely not least ran a waterline out to the garden.

This year’s harvest was again fabulous. I feel like we’re starting to settle into our gardening groove.

And thanks to all of the work that we did in 2016, I feel like 2017 will get off to a much faster start and we can focus on growing, not building, the garden.

Outdoor clean-up

Burned lawn

When I look at the farm, I feel like there’s so much that needs to be tidied up. In adding outdoor clean-up to my list last year, I knew I was going to have to pick a spot.

However, when I reflect on the last year, I realize that we actually ended up doing better than just one single spot. We cleaned up a scrap lumber pile behind the barn and another big one at the edge of our centre field. We picked up rocks, so I’m able to mow along the north side of the house, although I would still like to add some more topsoil and pick up a couple of patio slabs.

And the biggest area is the one pictured above on the south side of the garden, which was cleared for the first time this year–a controlled burn is the way to go–and then mowed by Matt all year.

There’s still a lot more clean-up to go, but I have to remind myself that we have a 129-acre property and we have made good progress.

And that’s a good word to sum up 2016 as a whole. Progress.

I feel good about what we accomplished, and, even better, I continue to enjoy the process of making the farm and the house ours.

What were your accomplishments in 2016?

Vintage bar cart end table

Vintage bar cart used as an end table in the living room

I made a change in the living room the other weekend.

I switched out a small end table for my grandmother’s vintage bar cart. I’ve envisioned using this cart as an end table for as long as I’ve had it, and I love how it looks in the living room.

The top tray is the perfect height for a lamp, and the shelves give us more space for the phone, answering machine (we’re still old-school here in the country), some storage and display, and even some room left over for a drink and a snack.

Plus the brass, glass and wood is pretty.

Vintage bar cart used as an end table in the living room

Bar carts have become so popular. I think the reason is in part because they are such versatile furniture.

In my grandmother’s house, this cart lived in a corner of the dining room and held her silver tea set. As much as my grandmother enjoyed an adult beverage now and then, this cart was known as a tea cart.

When it came to our (first) house, it served the same purpose, sitting in our dining room and holding my silver tea set.

It did that for awhile here at the farm too. But I knew it could do more.

Vintage wood and brass tea cart

When we added the third part of our new-to-us china cabinet to the dining room, the tea cart got a chance to try something new and moved in to the living room.

It will be here for at least awhile. But I’m also envisioning it in a bedroom as a night table. So much potential…

Do you have a bar cart at your house? How do you use it? Are you a fan of bar carts? Have you ever heard of a tea cart?

3/3 of a china cabinet

Want to see the thrifting score of the year?

Last December I wrote about a pair of large bookcases I found at Value  Village and my intention to turn them into a china cabinet in the dining room. I also wrote that I had really hoped to find three bookcases, but the store only had two (hence the 2/3 title of that post).

90s bookcases as china cabinet

More than six months later, in a different Value Village, in a different town, I came face to face with a bookcase.

It looked like it might be the same as the bookcases we already had at home. I actually called up my original blog post on my phone and tried to compare the pictures of the cabinets with the bookcase standing in front of me.

I was pretty sure they were a match.

In another sign that the universe was on my side that day, we were driving my Dad’s truck, so we had a way to transport the bookcase. And Matt had a 30% off coupon.

The bookcase became ours.

When we placed it in the dining room, sure enough, it was a match.

Unbelievable.

90s bookcases as china cabinet

I still have plans to make over this trio, but when that day comes I will no longer have to build the middle section from scratch. For now I’m quite happy to have 3/3 of a china cabinet sitting in the dining room.

Summer to-dos done

Is anyone else mourning the passing of summer like I am? While it seems like summer ends with Labour Day, I’ve been holding on to my favourite season. However, as of yesterday, I can no longer pretend. Fall is officially here.

Three months ago, I posted four projects that I was hoping to accomplish over the summer. You know how I like to hold myself accountable. So let’s see how I did.

Project #1: Build a closet in the basement

Done. This one felt so easy it surprised me. Doing the drywall in the basement the first time around was a massive job. I was not looking forward to doing any drywall at any time ever again. However, this time around I was doing such small areas that it seemed like it took next to no time to put on a coat of paste.

This area has given Matt a tonne of extra storage, and the basement is (almost) tidy and organized. I’m only sharing a progress shot because the closet holds Matt’s stuff and I like to give him his privacy. But trust that it is done.

Drywalling the laundry room

Project #2: Sand scrabble tiles

Done. I can’t wait to share these with all of you. Sanding 16 wood tiles was the definition of not fun DIY. However, the end product is (spoiler alert) awesome.

Weekend craft project underway

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Project #3: Strip paint off the guest room bed

Done. Okay I’m calling this one done, but it’s more like I gave up halfway through. The metal underneath the drippy, chippy spraypaint is not in good shape. So after stripping the headboard and side rails I decided to skip the footboard and just repaint everything. I’ve just been waiting for the weather to cool down enough to be able to paint (not a project for the summer to-do list).

Stripping paint off a vintage metal bedframe

Maybe project #4: Makeover office cabinet

Not done. This was a maybe project from the beginning, so I don’t feel bad about not finishing it. Although I do really, really, really want to put my office together.

Perhaps a project for the fall to-do list…

However, I’m still in denial about it being fall, so I’m not prepared to write a list quite yet.

How are you feeling about the changing seasons? What did you accomplish this summer? Are you thinking about fall to-dos yet?

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Home Goals 2016 mid-year report

Six months ago, I shared my Home Goals for 2016. We just crossed the halfway point of the year, so it’s time for my mid-term report.

Beyond sharing my Home Goals, I also started the year by sharing some of my ideas for the major renovation that we want to do… someday. And the first goal on the list was to get an idea of how much the reno is going to cost to help us figure out when that someday might be.

We consulted with a contractor, got some feedback on our plans and got some numbers. They’re big numbers… as in not any time soon numbers… but it was helpful to give us an idea of where we’re at.

In terms of specific projects, here are the rest of our goals.

Guest room

Robin's egg blue country guest room

The guest room was our first project of the year, and I’ve already done the official “reveal,” so I’m feeling pretty good about crossing this project off. However, there’s one task left on my original to-do list, which has also made it onto my summer to-do list.

  • Paint the walls and trim
  • Replace the light fixture
  • Make window treatments
  • Refinish the desk chair
  • Strip the paint off the metal bedframe (and maybe repaint)
  • Decorate and personalize

Finish the basement

Building shelves in the closet under the stairs

The basement was essentially finished a looong time ago. However, those niggly finishing details are still hanging around. Plus, we have two new summer projects, one that you know about and one that you don’t yet. (I’ll be talking more next week about things that are going to affect our basement progress).

  • Trim around the cold cellar doorway
  • Finish the built-in storage area in Matt’s bathroom
  • Make/buy art to finish off the space
  • Build shelving in the closet under the stairs
  • NEW Build a new closet in the basement
  • NEW Mystery project (more to come next week)

Furniture

Vintage china cabinet

I’m always on the hunt for a few key pieces of furniture. So far this year, I’ve found one piece–the china cabinet for my office–but it’s still awaiting its makeover.

Vegetable garden

Centre axis of a round vegetable garden

My all-consuming summer project every year has become the vegetable garden. Thanks to Dueling DIY this spring, the garden is in really good shape.

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes
  • Plant perennials: grapes, asparagus, rhubarb, more raspberries
  • Run a waterline out to the garden
  • NEW Spread hay mulch over the garden

Outdoor clean-up

I ambitiously added another outdoor goal to the list, although I realized I’d have to pick my battles in terms of which area I chose to clean up.

Thanks to a bit of distraction at the start of the garden Dueling DIY, I’ve cleaned up the large lumber pile on the north side of the centre field and burned the long grass and weeds on the south side of the garden. Matt’s been mowing the burn, and it almost looks like a real lawn already.

Burned lawn

I’m feeling pretty good about what we’ve accomplished so far. Work on a farm never ends, but I love seeing the progress we’ve made.

How are things going at your house? Do you feel like you’re making progress on your goals?

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Summer to-do list

Summer officially arrives this evening. While I have grand plans of sunshine and hammocks and hikes and gardens and lots of time outdoors, I also have a handful of projects that I’ve been saving up for my favourite season.

Build a closet in the basement

Enamel basins and infant sleepers hanging in the laundry room

Our house has fabulous storage. However, none of it is a match for my husband. I’m not sure Matt’s office ever successfully contained all of his stuff. Over the winter I had a brainwave. Remove some of the cabinets that are tucked between the dryer and the freezer in the laundry room (they’re already filled with his stuff anyway) and replace them with a full height closet. I think I can just about triple his storage space. And it should be a pretty simple build with some basic framing, drywall, bi-fold doors and shelves.

Sand scrabble tiles

Scrabble art for the basement

Source: insideways

One of my Home Goals for 2016 is adding some art to the basement. Going with our fun and games theme, I want to DIY some Scrabble tiles. I’ve had the wood cut for months. Months, I tell you. I just need to sand them and then paint the letters. Sanding sounds like a good way to enjoy some time outside in the sunshine, doesn’t it?

Strip paint off the guest room bed

Robin's egg blue country guest room

The only thing missing from our beautiful guest room makeover is a proper bedframe. I have a great rustic metal frame in the barn, but the finish isn’t the greatest. I’m planning to strip it back to bare metal and see what it looks like. Paint stripping is an outdoor job IMO, so another good way to enjoy the outdoors.

Makeover office cabinet

Vintage china cabinet

Last week, you saw the china cabinet I’ve bought for my office and heard about my plans to rebuild the upper hutch. I’m so excited to have my office organized that I can’t wait to get started on this project. However, I have to put this lower down on the list, as other projects have been hanging around much longer. So this one’s a maybe summer project.

Puttering on some projects, keeping up with the gardens and relaxing on the farm. That’s my recipe for a good summer.

What’s your recipe? Do you have a summer to-do list? What are you looking forward to this season?

China cabinet makeover plans

Last week you saw the china cabinet that I’m going to make over for my office. Today I’m back with my makeover plans–and a couple of spots where I need your input.

This cabinet is a win for a lot of reasons: drawers (surprisingly hard to find), the exact width I need to fit on the wall beside the window, solid wood, decent quality.

Silverware drawer in the vintage china cabinet

It has one big miss though. It’s not quite as tall as I want. The three shelves on the upper hutch are great. But they’re too short to hold even a magazine. So I’m planning to rebuild the top to give a little more breathing room between the shelves. I think I can reuse a lot of the hutch–everything except the side pieces, which isn’t a bad thing because I don’t love the half-moon cutouts anyway.

Vintage china cabinet

I’ll make the old and new wood blend with a coat of white paint, but I have a plan to let a bit of the wood show through. Hopefully I can sand out some of the scratches.

Scratches in the wood top of the china cabinet

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the pulls yet. They’re all wood and completely recessed into the doors and drawers. I can’t remove them without leaving big holes in the cabinet. I’m wondering if some gold paint would work. I have an idea it might look a bit campaign-esque like this dresser from Centsational Girl. What do you think?

Recessed wood pulls

The other area I’m questioning is the legs. Right now, there are two long legs on the bottom. Basically 2x4s screwed to the cabinet. (Please ignore the dust).

China cabinet leg

I feel like I’d like something a little more traditional. Here are some options I picked up from Home Depot. Which do you like best?

Legs for the china cabinet

I’m not sure when I’m going to get to the cabinet makeover, but I’m excited by the possibilities.

What are your ideas for the makeover? Any ideas to deal with the handles? What about the leg options?