Fun and games in the family room

Basement TV area

Way back when we started looking for our perfect farm, one of the things we wanted was a useable basement. Many farms come with old farmhouses which don’t typically come with great basements. Usually, there are rubble and stone foundations, shallow ceiling height, dirt floors and moisture.

One of the things that made this farm a winner was that it had a very, very useable basement. You saw the transformation on Friday of how we renovated the TV area. Today I’m delving into the details of how we decorated it.

It all started with these posters. These are Matt’s two favourite Monopoly properties. When I saw them on Lindsay’s blog, I knew I had to make them for him.

Monopoly posters

Theme is a bad word when it comes to decor, but we have a loose fun and games theme happening here in the basement. On the TV stand I made a die to serve as a bookend and on the ottoman we have a backgammon board tray.

I like these little pops of fun.

Dice bookend

Backgammon board tray

The other pop we have in the basement is colour. The base is neutral–the walls, carpet, couch, chair. The red throw, the green tray, the purple lamp and, of course, our pretty pillows all add personality.

The lamp sits on top of a wood cheese drum that came from Matt’s grandpa’s house. It’s too low to be used as a proper end table, but it’s the perfect height to give a bit of a glow when we’re sitting downstairs. And it’s the little touch of rustic that I’ve decided every room at the farm needs.

Purple lamp on a wood drum

I love these pillows. The stripe is bossy, a little bit retro and a perfect match to the bird fabric that  I used on our DIY ottoman (Crazy Ol Bird Midnight by Swavelle/Mill Creek). I love this bird fabric so much that I bought a lot of it, and I had plenty to make two pillows for the couch. (The stripe and the turquoise velvet pillows came with the couch).

Colourful pillows

The sectional is so comfortable. I love the chaise, I love that we have room for a huge number of people, I love that everyone can sit with their feet up. The ottoman also serves another purpose. The top hinges open to give us lots of storage.

Basement TV area after

The other half of the TV area holds–what else–the TV. My Dad and I made the TV cabinet five years ago when we were first putting the basement together. And it’s awesome.

TV cabinet with multiple video game systems

The goal with the TV cabinet was to hold all of Matt’s video game systems. He’s never been able to have them all hooked up at once, but here he finally does. There’s everything from old Nintendo and Sega to new Playstation and XBOX. The drawers hold games, controllers, cables and other accessories.

Video game TV cabinet

Beside the TV stand is the Austin chair that I won from Blogpodium. The boxy shape and grey fabric work perfectly with the rest of the TV area.

Chair with red throw

Baxter’s toys live in a basket under Austin–the basement is fun for everyone.

Dog toys

Our big renovation gave us a space. All of the little decorative details make the space. It’s personal and fun and perfect for us.

Basement TV area after

What’s your must-have for a fun family room? How do you feel about decorating themes? How do you mix neutrals and colour? Do you have a video gamer at your house? What are your favourite Monopoly properties?

Colourful creative office

Office after

My office. A space that’s completely my own. The last bedroom in our house. It’s done. And I’m so happy with how it turned out.

While I’ve used the word “office” to describe this room, it’s really a sewing, crafting, creative space.

It’s filled with the things that I like to do. The things I like the most and that mean the most to me (Bill!). I love that I now have an organized room that I enjoy being in.

Favourite things in the office

This wall used to be filled with boxes that had been packed since we moved in five years ago. Now, the thrifted china cabinet holds sewing and knitting supplies, magazines and memorabilia–and keeps them all organized.

China cabinet storage in the office

Sewing pattersn and knitting needles

Knitting and sewing supplies

Growing up, I never won a trophy. When we were dating, I mentioned this to Matt. One fall, after I ran my first 10K, Matt presented me with a huge trophy. It meant so much to me that he did that. However, the trophy was truly huge. I took it apart and then put it back together in a slightly smaller configuration, and it fits easily on the shelves.

Running trophy

Reconfiguring the closet was also hugely helpful to keep everything organized. Hanging up my big pieces of fabric makes it easy to see what I have and ensures that I’m more likely to use them.

Fabric stash hanging in the closet

When it came to art, I wanted to display some of my favourite things–like this collection of vintage hats. My Mom taught me how to sew. She learned from her mother–the original owner of most of these hats. In fact, my great-grandmother made one of the hats that is hanging on the wall.

I love the idea of a time where people regularly dressed up to go out, and hats were part of the outfits. I don’t live in that world, but I can still enjoy these hats by having them on display.

Vintage hats hung on the wall

The gallery wall is another showcase of my favourite things.

Gallery wall

The same grandma that taught my Mom to sew also had a collection of Red Rose Tea figurines. Often when we were leaving her home after visiting, she would give us a figurine to take home. A few years ago, I decided to collect a full set of the nursery rhyme statues. Between gifts and flea markets, I got every one. However, I’ve never had a place to display them. Now I do–along with a fun photo of my Mom and I modeling some of the hats.

Red Rose Tea figurines

Another small collection that is finally on display is my thimble collection. Matt’s parents travel a fair amount, and my MIL buys a china thimble for me pretty much everywhere they go. I made a really small shelf to go above my sewing machine, and it holds all of the thimbles perfectly.

A magnetic strip from Lee Valley, painted the same colour as the wall, holds sewing instructions where I can easily see them as I’m working.

Thimble collection

While I’m not an official participant in the One Room Challenge, which concludes this week, it definitely helped motivate me to finish off this room. I love that every item on my to-do list is crossed off.

You can check out all of the official ORC participants at Calling it Home.

Feminine blue and floral office

There are so many little details that make this room work really well for me. And I love the beauty and the sentimentality that I was able to incorporate as well. While the ORC motivated me to finish the office, the room itself is now motivating me to keep crafting. I’ve returned to some projects that have been hanging around for a little while and had a super productive sewing month where I’ve churned out a dress, jacket and several pillows. I’m excited by what else this room is going to inspire.

Thanks for following along on the makeover. Do you have a crafty creative space at your house? What helps motivate you to finish projects–whether big like a room makeover or smaller crafts? Do you have a favourite collection on display?

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?

How to add a harp to a lamp

My thrift store lamp that you met on Friday had a lot of things going for it, especially after its spray paint makeover. However, there was one thing missing that I didn’t notice until the very end: the harp.

The harp is the little bracket that goes around the light bulb and holds the lampshade.

I admit, I was a little intimidated by the prospect of installing a harp. I hear about a lot of people rewiring lamps, but I’ve never attempted that myself. It turns out it’s not hard. In fact, I just started trying to take the lamp apart and was able to figure it out pretty much on my own.

Step one was to remove the socket from the lamp base. It just unscrewed, and the cord was loose enough that I was able to pull it out a little bit.

Removing the socket from a lamp

The wire was still buried deep in the socket, so I started trying to figure out how to access it. A close examination revealed a seam in the middle of the socket. You can see it partially opened here.

Removing the socket from a lamp

The socket easily unscrewed, and I could see where the wires attached to two screws. I could also see a really intimidating knot. Gulp.

Taking apart a lamp socket

A couple of turns loosened the screws enough to unhook the wires. Quick tip: I marked which wire went to which screw (one’s gold and one’s silver) by straightening the gold one and leaving the silver one hooked.

Taking apart a lamp socket

I was really, really hoping to not untie that knot, but in order to remove the bottom part of the socket–never mind putting on the harp–I had to. With the knot untied, the socket easily slid off and the harp bracket easily slid on.

How to add a harp to a lamp

After that, it was a (relatively) easy process of reassembling the socket. I slid the bottom part of the socket back into place. I retied the knot. (Okay, this was a bit complicated.) It turns out the knot is called an underwriters knot. I watched this animation a few times as I was tying my own knot. I hooked the wires back over their screws, and then screwed everything back together. I had a reassembled lamp that now included the bottom part of the harp.

How to add a harp to a lamp

The upper part of the harp slid onto the bottom bracket and I gave myself a congratulatory pat on the back.

How to add a harp to a lamp

And then I had to choose a lampshade. Last week I asked for your input, white or grey. So what did I end up choosing?

I went with the grey. It was pretty much the universal favourite last week, and I decided that I liked its flared shape best.

Purple lamp with flared grey shade

And another detail on the basement comes together. Slowly but surely I will finish this space.

Have you ever rewired a lamp? What DIY projects do you find intimidating?

Linking up to #DIYLightingChallenge

Lamp makeover

November is turning into lighting month over here. Last week was the dining room chandelier and the basement chandelier. This week I have a new lamp to show you.

If you think back to February, you might recall that I posted about struggling to find a lamp that I liked for the end of the couch in the basement. Well, things move like lightning over here–lightning I tell you–because just 9 months later I’m ready to show you my solution.

Lamp makeover before

Ummm… not quite.

A thrifted lamp was my starting point. It was the right height. I liked the shape. The base wouldn’t take up a whole lot of space on our tiny end table.

I took care of the brass with the same shiny silver spray paint that I used on the original dining room chandelier.

Lamp makeover

As much as I liked the turquoise colour, I was not a fan of the flowers. So everything got a coat of deep purple spray paint.

Purple lamp

Purple?

Yep.

I like having pops of colour in the basement, and purple is a colour I’ve not used yet.

Turns out the purple works. I really like how it looks in the basement.

But I have a dilemma.

What lampshade looks best? (Ignore the shiny cellophane wrapping.)

I have a (slightly crooked) grey option.

Grey lampshade

Or a white option.

White lampshade

What’s your vote?

Dining room chandelier reborn

I’m thinking I may have been a little hard on our old dining room light in my last post. I may have given you the impression that I hated its copper-wired, frosted-glass, brushed-nickel guts.

That’s not entirely the case.

I just hated them in the dining room.

Ugly dining room chandelier

I actually thought the light might work in the basement.

We’ve had one persistent pigtail hanging around in the basement since we finished the reno down there (almost, ahem, two years ago, ahem). I always have a hard time finding lighting that I like. But then it occurred to me that with a little bit of help, the dining room light might work just fine.

The help came in the form of bright silver spray paint.

Rustoleum metallic finish

I spy with my little eye a chandelier hanging in a tree (and a finial stuck on a stick).

Spray painting a chandelier

I’ve used bright polished silver lighting in other areas of the basement, so I wanted to stick with that theme. The spray paint isn’t quite as shiny as I’d like, but it’s close.

I’ve not yet found a way to photograph the basement that doesn’t come out with it looking horrendous. So just trust that this light is an improvement over the pigtail, okay?

Basement chandelier

Focus on the giant pink ape playing crokinole under the new chandelier.

Basement chandelier

This chandelier is a win on two fronts:

  1. It came in well under my $100 lighting budget.
  2. Our house is now pigtail free–for a few weeks at least.

Have you ever made over a light fixture? What’s your favourite metal finish?

Rustic industrial chandelier for the dining room

Hundreds–nay, thousands–of lighting sins are committed everyday all around the world. There are boob lights, too-plentiful potlights, green glowing fluourescent lights, tragic ceiling fans… several of which we have in our own house.

And then there’s this. The original chandelier in our dining room.

Ugly dining room chandelier

At first glance, it may not seem overly offensive. However, let me enumerate its sins:

  1. The finish was brushed, which is my least favourite metal finish ever.
  2. Only one out of its three bulbs was working (okay, this is more our fault than the light fixture’s).
  3. Its design (is this 1990s?) was not at all a fit for our country setting.

You all know I’ve been trying to make this house look a little more farmy. So I’ve been casually on the hunt for a new light fixture.

As usual, it had to fall below my $100 threshold (applies to both light fixtures and chairs–yes, I’m that cheap), and it had to be a bit farmy.

I struck gold (or rather black) at Rona one evening. The chandelier was light and open. It was large enough to work in the vaulted ceiling in our good size dining room. It was slightly industrial, slightly rustic.

Industrial rustic chandelier

And it was on sale. Serious sale. As in it was the last one in the store and it had to be sold. As in it was finally in my price range. Merry Christmas to me!

Discounted chandelier price tag

The staff member in the lighting department took it out of the display–and took out the expensive Edison bulbs it had been styled with. I bought cheap chandelier bulbs and carted everything home.

After finally installing it, I could not be happier. It’s a perfect fit for our dining room and our country setting.

Industrial rustic chandelier

Industrial rustic chandelier

Industrial rustic chandelier

No more lighting penance for me.

What’s the biggest lighting sin in your opinion? Are you committing any lighting sins at your house? What’s the best deal you’ve ever found on a light fixture?

Wonky wiring and a pair of pendant lights

At some point today, an electrical inspector will knock on my door. (Hopefully. It’s one of those “sometime between 8 and 5 things”). It’s been awhile since our electrician was here, but I’ve been putting off the inspection because my day job was requiring me to be in the office. I finally got a break at work and am working at home today, so the inspection can happen. I also finally got my fingers in gear to tell you about this update.

Matt and I had upgraded from the boob light in the kitchen to a school-house pendant some time ago. The fixture wasn’t in the right spot, though. It was off centre with the island and a single pendant didn’t look quite right.

Single school-house pendant over the kitchen island

I had ordered a second pendant back when we installed the first one (February 2014), but I didn’t want to tackle adding it on my own.

When we had the electrician here to move the light switch in the master bedroom, I had him relocate the existing kitchen light and add the second.

The wiring in this house is wonky. When the electrician took down the first pendant, I remembered exactly how wonky. There was no box to house the wiring. Instead, the fixture was attached to a couple of plates that were screwed to the drywall, and the wires–which wasn’t the right type either–just stuck out from a hole in the ceiling.

How not to wire a light

Obviously, it wasn’t right, but Matt and I had installed our new light anyways, knowing that we’d hire a professional to fix it soon. Well, soon turned out to be more than a year, but better late than never, right?

I was surprised when the electrician hypothesized that there was another light somewhere else in the ceiling. A close look at the drywall showed us a patch that I had never noticed. When he climbed up into the attic, he discovered the light (disconnected, thank goodness). This one had a junction box. It also still had the socket lamp holder attached to it. The light had just been turned so it pointed into the attic and not through the ceiling. What were they thinking???

Light fixture in the attic

The electrician drilled two new holes, inserted two new boxes and ran the new wires–and did all of it properly.

Wiring pendant lights over the island

I was happy to have a professional electrician fixing all of the mistakes. I was also happy that he was the one crawling around in the attic, not me. I like my DIY, but I’ve learned where to draw the line. Things that are beyond my skills or just plain unpleasant (and this hit both of them) are a clear time to call in professional help.

If you’re in the Guelph, Hamilton or tri-city area, I highly recommend Agentis Electric.

Electrician going into the attic

I did patch the hole in the ceiling on my own though (but I haven’t painted it yet). And here’s the finished product: pair of pendants, properly positioned–and properly wired–over the island.

School house pendant lights over the kitchen island

How do you decide when to bring in professional help? What’s the wiring like at your house? Do you have any light fixtures lying around just waiting to be installed? How do you handle lighting in your kitchen?

Lighting fail

Have you seen the Barometer light from Ikea?

Ikea barometer floor lamp

I love its traditional form. I really wanted it for the basement. In fact, I wanted it so badly that I braved Ikea on Dec. 27 to buy it.

Ikea during Boxing Week. Oy vey.

We have a corner at the one end of the couch that needs a lamp. When we set up the basement, Matt put an old round wooden crate from his grandfather as an end table and stuck one of our garage sale brass lamps on top.

Wooden cheese crate as a low end table

I love the crate, but the lamp has always bugged me. The table’s short, so the shade sits right at the arm of the couch. The metal in the rest of the basement is shiny chrome or closer to oil-rubbed bronze. The brass just doesn’t work.

Unfortunately, the Barometer doesn’t work either.

Ikea Barometer light

I mean, it’s pretty. The silver finish works. The height works… kind of. It’s a good task light if I was going to be sewing or reading in that corner of the couch. However, my usual activity when sitting on the couch is watching TV. We need a lamp that sheds just a bit of light so the basement isn’t lit solely by the glow of the TV.

The light that the Barometer sheds is closer to an interrogation. Just looking at this picture hurts my eyes.

Ikea Barometer light

We tipped down the shade, slid the light farther away from the couch, adjusted the arm. We just couldn’t make it work. No matter where we sat, we were squinting from the Barometer’s glare. 😦

So back to Ikea I went, this time to brave the returns desk. That’s nearly as much fun as shopping on Boxing Day + 1.

And it’s back to the drawing board on the basement lamp. Honestly, I think Matt had the right idea. As wonky as the low lamp looks, it gives the light we’re looking for. Now just to find something better than the brass.

My spin on a clothespin light

A lot of people had compliments for the clothespin light fixture in the laundry room.

Clothespin light in the laundry room

I can’t take credit for the idea or even the execution. I was inspired by this light from Young House Love.

I followed their tutorial pretty closely, and it was super easy. However, I did one thing differently and learned a couple of lessons along the way. I thought it might be helpful to share.

First the lessons.

I chose to do the same zigzag pattern that John and Sherry did. In their tutorial, they mention alternating squares. However, what they didn’t say is that they also skipped a row of wire between each row of pins. If you look closely at the pictures in the YHL post, you’ll be able to see the pattern. Skipping every other row gives a comfortable amount of space between the pins so that they lay at a nice angle all the way down the shade. And this makes the great pattern on the ceiling when it’s lit up.

Clothespin light fixture

And talking about laying at an angle, in the YHL post, Sherry emphasized that it’s important to have an even number of squares around the top to maintain the pattern all the way around the shade. However, she didn’t talk about how many squares there should be from top to bottom. I nearly trimmed the bottom row of mesh off my shade because I had an empty row of squares. However, if I’d done that, my bottom row of clothespins would have hung straight down while all the other ones sat at an angle. Having an extra row of wire at the bottom holds the pins on the angle. So, while you want an even number around the shade, you want an odd number from top to bottom.

Clothespin light fixture

And now for what I did differently.

My light is closer to a flush mount than the YHL pendant. I used an old single socket lamp holder that I had lying around as the actual light. You can’t get more basic than that. Or cheaper. (Or, let’s be honest, uglier).

Keyhole light fixture

It took me a little while to figure out how to attach the shade to the light. I didn’t love the cup hooks on the YHL fixture. My solution was to run two pieces of wire loosely across the top of the shade. I then looped each wire around the screws in the lamp holder. It’s pretty much invisible, unless you’re standing directly underneath the fixture looking up.

Clothespin light fixture

The YHL light used 320 pins. Mine has 288. The final dimensions are 64 squares around and 17 from top to bottom. The overall dimensions of the drum shade are 11 inches high by 14 inches in diameter.

I love that I have a light fixture made out of clothespins in the laundry room. Even better, I love how it looks. Thanks John and Sherry for the inspiration.

Have you ever made anything out of clothespins? Have you made your own light fixture?

Linking up to #DIYLightingChallenge