add a little lime to your powder room (and while you’re at it, get rid of that mold! )

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The walls in our apartment are all clean white. There’s original molding and glass,  simply, they’re beautiful. Growing up in a house where the walls were always changing colors, and even the ceiling was a “white lime” color, I’ve learned to appreciate the spaciousness that white creates, especially in a small New York apartment. That said, you can take the girl out of the eccentric home, but you can’t take the eccentric home out of the girl.

More so, I wanted to see what we plausibly could get away with in regards to rental rights. Because after moving in two sofas, we’re never leaving.

Our bathroom has a great sunlight, but other than that, it’s small. It’s mixed in white tiles where over time old ones must have broken off. There’s layers and layers of old paint, grey and white cements covering the tiles in illogical and messy ways. There’s also mold. A lot of mold. To top it off, the most recent paint job was one layer of white, so poorly painted you could see the lilac purple underneath.

I mean, it’s gross.

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Originally I wanted to paint it a dark slate grey/blue. But who wants to poo in not only a small room, but a dark and small room? So we nixed that, and I went to, obviously, my favorite color in the world — chartreuse.

Adding a lick of paint to your walls not only brightens the space, it cleans it up, makes things feel fresh, and is an inexpensive way to redecorate.

What You’ll Need  (to clean, caulk, and paint your poo room) — 

1. a flat head screw driver

2. paint. our bathroom is teeny tiny, and the tiles cover a lot of the walls, so we only needed 1/4 gallon. I recommend making sure the paint is mold proof and bathroom friendly. We used a satin finish — not shiny, but not chalky-matte.

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3. a couple paint brushes. I used a 1″ one that I already had, as well as the brush I swear by, the shur line paint edger — it’s smooth, and helps with painting corners and edges.

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4. painter’s tape.

5. something to place the paint in. Incidentally, the plastic cover to a container of Swiffer mops works quite well (just make sure you don’t need to use it again!)

6. maybe a ladder, or you can do the little dance I did while painting on the edge of the tub.

7. brush or vacuum and cleaning all-purpose spray. I like Method.

8. Spatula and wall putty – in case you have old holes in the walls. Maybe some light sand paper.

9. bathroom caulk. This is different from caulk I used to cover mouse holes. But the practice is the same, so if you’re unsure how to use caulk, read this post.

Directions 

Before you paint, clean up the space. wash the walls down — there’s definitely a layer of grime and water from showering, which also means gross bacteria that you don’t want under a new coat of paint. Wash down everything including all the tiles with a cleaning spay.

For us, there were holes all over the walls. And awkwardly placed HUGE screws, that of course were painted over from before. We patched them up, too. Once dried, I sanded them down just a bit with a light sandpaper to make sure the walls were smooth.

The bathroom tiles had old layers of paint and cement and caulk EVERYWHERE. Use a flat head screw driver to pull and scrape it up and off. Be careful to not make a hole into the wall. In addition, this is a great time to recaulk your tub. Where the caulk was once white  and water proof, it’s now black (mold) and gross. Use the flat head to scrape out the mold. Once you’ve scraped out everything nasty, make sure it’s clean and dry, and then use the caulk tube, and slowly squeeze out the paste. It will need 24 hours to dry, so don’t do this right after working out (note to self).

Before the paint pic, check out this beauty. After pic of recaulking the tub. Hallelujah, I’m not getting some weird growth on my feet!

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After you finish cleaning up the walls, removing old paint from the tiles, tape up where the wall meets the ceiling and the tiles. Oh yeah, remove the switch plates :)

photo 2-2 photo 5-1 Then, start painting. If you choose a bright color like we (ok, I) did, you’re gonna need to paint two layers. Use the edge brush to get the main bits, then use the smaller 1″ one to finish the corners or hard to reach areas.

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Between coats, spend your time getting crazy with spray paint. Just ask, would Beyoncé had a gold switch plate? Probably. (Make sure to spray by layer).

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Then, after painting your second coat wait like 30 mins, and remove the painters tape. Waiting too long can sometimes pull up the paint if it’s dried on top of the tape.

Not only is our bathroom brighter, it’s cleaner, the tiles aren’t covered in decades of paint, and it’s mold free!

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Next up, the kitchen!

how to fix up a new, old find (and remove the rust!)

Earlier this week I was walking to get my laundry, and happened across this retro, tiny, “little red dinette set.” It was made sometime around the late 40’s, early 50’s we’re guessing. On average, they can cost up to several hundred dollars, but this one was being sold for $150. And while a Johnny Rockets theme wasn’t ever what I thought would look good in our apartment — think boho, vintage, Anthro-feel, it really spoke to me. There is something really unique about the orangey-red, aluminum,  and grey seats. Plus, the size was perfect as we don’t have too much space for a dining table. (Also, ugh, I hate snow.)

photoAfter walking back and forth like three times, I knew I would miss out as it were to likely be purchased soon. The antique shop selling it had just got it in earlier that day, so we went for it. There was rust and dirt all over it, but I figured I’d clean it up some how.

::insert complaint about walking it six blocks and up three flights of stairs::

I called my mom for advice on how to clean it. She quickly knew the perfect trick, going back to her motorcycle days (Ha!) And based on my last post, she said I already had everything I needed to clean it up.

What you need:

— Steel Wool! Yup, the same wool I used to stick in the  mouse holes

— Aluminum foil

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See what we needed to clean:

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It’s pretty gross, right? Before you start, make sure you are working on a surface you can easily clean — the wool particles and excess rust will get everywhere.

So first, wipe it all down and clean it as best you can. I prefer a natural cleaning product. Then, you’ll start to scrub down all the rust with the steel wool. You’ll quickly see a difference, the rust scrubs off quite easily. But note: be careful because the metal fibers in the wool will hurt your hands!

The side on the left was scrubbed with the steel wool:

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Next, use the shiny side of the aluminum foil, and scrub once again. The foil will make the metal shine! (Notice which part was cleaned with steel wool and foil?)

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Then, wipe it all down again with a cleaning agent. Use a mild one to ensure the shine keeps it’s pop. You may also want to use a little hand vac to suck up all the rust particles that fell off. Now, do the whole thing! This actually takes quite a bit of time, especially because of all the nooks and crannies. Remember to clean up even the little parts, like the screws and upholstery tacks. Take your time, and the results will amaze you.

Whoop!

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To curve that ‘diner’ feel, I added a teal blue platter (from Ikea!) with a couple succulents, and made it feel like ours. Now, for a dinner party!

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Ew Mice. (and how to prevent them)

We just moved apartments! Again. Going from the Finance District to Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn, you quickly learn to transition from elevators, doormen, salted streets, and doorbells. A brand new building to one built in 1890. We now have character and charm. But word on the street is, we may also have mice.

I’m not a big fan of mice. (no, really?!) While often in old buildings, they can’t be helped, you can still try hardest to ensure you don’t see their cute (and bacteria infested) faces.

So besides cleaning, keeping food in the refrigerator and out of the pantry, cleaning dirty dishes, you can also make sure all those little holes – between the floor and the walls, under the stove, in the corners – are filled up and cleaned up! If you didn’t know you had them, start looking around, and you’ll be surprised how many there are!

Here’s what you need.

– Steel wool. This is (apparently) the only thing mice can’t chew through. Ew. I researched, and the one pictured below is the best, most durable.

– A screw driver or knife or scissors to use to squish the steel wool into said holes

– Silicone caulking. If you need help with where to find this, ask someone at Ace Hardware, they’ll know which one you want. It’s silicone and water based.

– A caulking gun. You don’t need a fancy one. The $7 one is fine.

– A spatula. Like the one you would use the cover holes from old nails.

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First, you’ll want to make sure the holes and edges between the wall and floor are clean, dust free, and dry. You’ll just make a dirty mess if you skip this part, so don’t forget!

Then, you’ll want to stuff the steel wool into the holes. It can be sharp, it can cut through yoga pants (don’t learn that the hard way), and it can cause more of a mess. So use sharp scissors, or pull it slowly using your hands. Next, you’ll use the screw driver to help push the wool into the holes.

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Do you see the steel wool in both holes? You may find that the hole is actually larger than you thought. I know, this is terrifying. Keep adding steel wool ’til you no longer can. Then, and I mean technically you don’t have to do this, because  mice can’t get through the wool, but to make it visually attractive, and for peace of mind, you can then add the caulking, and cover up the holes. {insert caulking joke here]

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See how it kinda just squiggles out? You can use either your finger (since it’s water based) or a spatula (this is less of a mess), to smooth out the caulking gel and finish.

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It’s not perfect. But holler! no more mice. (let’s hope) In addition, even if the hole is so small that you can’t fit any steel wool into the crack, you can still using the caulking gun to seal the space between the wall and the floor. You may even enjoy this nasty little project. It’s quite satisfying! (just make sure to smooth it all out!)

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So keep your kitchen clean, fill in those holes, and you’re set. And please don’t use those inhumane traps – live or dead ones – because seriously, what are you then gonna do with a mouse?

 

Hand Stitched Pillows

While traveling this past April and May, we made it to Kampala, Uganda. The main attraction was of course the mountain gorillas — absolutely amazing, you must go see them before they sadly become extinct. The second attraction, ok besides the chimps, was the fabric. A lot of the fabric is made in Uganda, and other pieces come from Nigeria. Our friends in Nairobi say that Uganda has the most gorgeous fabric in all of Africa. Can’t say I disagree. $30 later, I’m in heaven!

Recently we purchased the Karlstad, L-shaped sofa from Ikea, in isunda gray. It can be very big and plain, and I’ve been struggling to find pillows that are lounge-y, comfortable, beautiful, man-friendly, and inexpensive to go with it. So I thought making my own with purchased fabric would be the best bet. I purchased a couple various sized cushions from Ikea – like $7-$15 per pillow, that you can stuff in once stitched. If you’re like me and don’t have a sewing machine, these can be exceptionally time consuming… however…they’re SUPER easy to make, and Orange is the New Black Season Two was just released, so my guess is you have some time to kill.

For your encouragement, a finished photo:

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The black and white checkered one is from Ikea (actually went quite nicely with them!). The green and aqua are the fabric purchases I made in Kampala.

What You’ll Need:

  1. Scissors
  2. Measuring tape
  3. Fabric – really depends on the size you want your pillows to be. For the larger green pillow, I cut two pieces of 23X23 inches.
  4. The pillow or stuffing you want to use for the inside — Maybe you have an old pillow that you hate? Recycle it, and add new fabric!
  5. Needles and thread — I bought a basic pack of thread that offered a bunch of colors, and it included a couple needles ($5) I’d recommend a large needle if you can, they’re a bit easier to work with.
  6. Sewing pins ($3)
  7. Iron
  8. Patience, white wine, whatever gets you through it
  9. Scotch Guard (if you want to spray onto your pillows to prevent stains)

So first, cut two sheets of the size of fabric you need. I recommend cutting a bit smaller than the size that you measure when the pillow is fully fluffed. You will want a tight cover, and it’s ok to stuff the pillow in … will make the final fit tight, and create a better shape.

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Once you have both sheets, turn them inside out — That way, your stitches are on the inside, and make for a cleaner finish. You’ll sew one side at a time. To keep your fabric lined up, and to make sure you’re stitching in a straight line, use your sewing pins. Roughly half an inch from the bottom of each side of fabric:

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After lining up your pins, use the length of the fabric to determine how much thread you’ll use. To make sure you don’t run out, and have enough to tie at the end, add about six more inches. Then, double over your thread. Stitching two pieces of thread at one time will ensure it keeps sturdy. Starting at one end, tie through your thread, and begin stitching in and out. Try to keep your stitches as close as possible — this will keep the pillow from ripping.

Do this for three of the sides. Remember, double your thread! (For real, it helps.)

Then, put the fabric the right way out, and you’ll see your stitches look great

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After turning the fabric right-side out, get out your iron, and iron out any wrinkles that may have developed… you’ll want to make sure to do this before stuffing your pillow, to ensure that it’s smooth and wrinkle free when finished. Then, for the side that has not been sewed, fold each piece of fabric about 1/2 an inch in — so that the cut line is hidden from the outside. This will be necessary when stitching the final side, and will make sure the pillow looks finished. (Insert photo, oops, my bad).

Next, stuff in your pillow or stuffing (insert 2nd photo I did not take).

For the final side, you’ll use pins once again to keep the fabric together, and to create a line you may follow. Double your thread, and stitch from side to side once more — this is the one side you’ll definitely see stitched, so take your time, and try to create a straight line. Again, make sure your stitches are small to keep the pillow from ripping.

photo 3-1When finished, shake our your pillow, let the stuffing move around a bit, and ta-da! Here’s the final look. I’m pretty sure these pillows would cost you at least $75 in stores like West Elm or Pottery Barn. Now, they may have been machine stitched and therefore more sturdy, but how fun is that?

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So many materials.

I visited the Material ConneXion library this afternoon. I’ve decided to take on the certificate program at Parsons, and one of the courses they offer is Showrooms — where basically, you have the opportunity to visit amazing showrooms throughout New York: Large ones, historical ones, hipster-Williamsburghy-ones, you name it. Today we visited the Material ConneXion library located in Mid-town. This place is INSANE. Basically they are a data collection (the world’s largest collection!) of every known material that’s out there — ceramic, fiber, metals, cement, processes, and polymers. Their collection is roughly 7500, and at any given time they display 2500 of them. Unfortunately you have to have a membership to the museum (which is crazy expensive), but as a student at Parsons you can go for free. Whoop! Check out some of these killer materials I captured. It’s a pretty inspiring and an interesting space. Plus: you’re allowed to touch everything.

photo 5-1Recycled skateboards – could be used for a wide variety of things, including rad wall coverings.

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This may be my favorite: handwoven wall coverings of recycled maps. Exceptionally expensive, I mean, it’s HANDWOVEN, but how cool would a bathroom, or wall in your office look with this all over it?

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This is also a natural material — made of cork and woven cotton. It could be used to reupholster a piece of furniture, shoes, clothes, the list is endless.

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So this one is kinda crazy — it’s a wood veneer with leather substrate. It’s flexible and therefore can be used again for many purposes.

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These. I want a belt made out of each one. Low and hold, it’s all mosaic wood veneer. So, no belt for me, but it could be beautiful trimming, paneling, or framing (so the details read!)

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I love this one! There’s glitter, there’s cork, there’s layers of paper. It’s really just cool. And it can be from recycled material which is even better.

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So many mateeeerriaaalllsssss!!!

 

stenciling your floors

Remodelista posted this great piece today. Living in large urban cities, if you’re lucky, you may still have the original flooring that came with your hundred year old brownstone, row house, or apartment. If you’re really really lucky, you either own or have a super who would appreciate hippy stenciling on the wood. Just be careful not to destroy your precious wood floors as they are hard to come by, and linoleum isn’t a good fix, regardless of what your grandma believes. 

If you don’t have the option to try this (like me), it does seem like an interesting idea for an old dinner table. Reclaimed wood and barnyard tables are super in these days, here’s a way to make it your own. Cheers! 

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the great couch debate

Buying the perfect couch or seating for a space can be the most overwhelming decision. Seating is the first thing people typically see when walking into your home, especially in apartment living. It’s where you spend most of your time. You want it to be comfortable, but not sloppy. Available for wine nights, football season, movies, Netflix binges. You want your space to represent you. And to top if off, damn, it’s an expensive decision.

It’s always been my taste to create a nook like seating arrangement. Make it cozy, conversational, and warm. Here are a few couches that I love. Someday, when you and I are both rich and fabulous, we can each buy the exquisite love seats from Restoration Hardware. Until then, keep hoping to find a great original from a flea market.

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This is a $4000 couch. I’ve visited him in several RH stores – a few times more than I’m willing to admit. The Kensington is sexy, authentic, comfortable. Just like Don Draper in your dreams.

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West Elm, you never cease to amaze me. The Crosby is so good. It comes in a few colors, but I have to say, aegean blue is my favorite. The cost is middle/high range ($1500) — think wedding gift, first home piece, raise or bonus splurge, you get the idea. And the craftsmanship is simply lovely — the feet, incredible. The extra pillows, and the texture… Well done, WE.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 10.37.12 AMOh, Urban Outfitters furniture. You’re somewhat affordable, thoughtful about the legs, texture and color. And I like that you make trendy sofa sleepers. However, I fear your craftsmanship sucks. While I’ve not seen this particular piece up close, I have purchased seating from UO in the past, and it’s not the sturdiest. Not necessarily a deal breaker depending on how long one plans to keep said sofa, but with all due respect to your bank account, $600 is a lot of money.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 11.05.16 AMI think this piece is a total winner. World Market Cost Plus is a gem of a store — affordable, good quality, and unique. Particularly, the Wyatt Sectional is a great way to enhance your personal taste. Add funky side tables, a throw, artwork…. It’s got the charm and durability in basics. It’s about $850, but one thing to note about WM; they love a good sale. So never buy unless shipping is free or all furniture is 20% off. My mother actually purchased this piece, and I must say, we all agree it’s great.

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reupholstery is cake.

is that a mustache on your chartreuse chair?

is that a mustache on your chartreuse chair?

honestly, kinda an ugly chair from Ikea.

Before: Ikea could have done better. 

  1. Chair
  2. Paint – just buy a quarter gallon – indoor, with primer is lovely.
  3. Sand paper – if the chairs are already painted, get the medium grind. If they are basic unpainted food, the smoother paper is fine.
  4. A paint brush
  5. Staple fun
  6. Fabric of your choosing – make sure you buy enough. If you live in the city, I would recommend looking on Etsy for fabric… not too many places in DC. Make sure you buy enough!
  7. Scissors (cut your fabric)
  8. Hammer

First, you will want to wash and sandpaper down the chair – give it a clean, fresh feel. It will help making the paint go on smoother. At this time, if you can, unscrew the seat from the chair.

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-04-07Then, you’re going to want to start painting. Make sure you shake and stir your paint to make it even. I recommend doing one basic coat, let it dry for 20 – 30 minutes, and then add another. I wanted a really bright, fun, summer color. Obviously throw-up green chartreuse was the answer. 

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-04-16After your first coat, let the chair dry, and begin working on the reupholstery of the seat. As I mentioned, I purchased fabric from Etsy. Make sure  your order enough to go around the top, and underneath where there needs to be enough to staple that baby down.

IMAG0335Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-03-17The key is to pull the fabric firmly around each side, to ensure there are no kinks or wrinkles in the fabric. The corners are tricky, I recommend treating it as if you are wrapping a present. Now, if you’re terrible at wrapping gifts, try something else. :) If you don’t have a staple gun, you can always nail in small hanging nails… but do consider buying a gun at Ace Hardware, they’re only like $30 and last forever. If not all of the staples go in completely (they can sometimes be a sucker), use a hammer to smooth them out.

Here you go! Mustaches!

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-03-46After the first coat is dry, work on your second paint coat. Touch ups can always be done the next day, too. I recommend waiting 1-2 days after painting to ensure the paint is 100% dry before reattaching your seat.

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what’s inspiring me

Inspiring me, driving me crazy, coloring my mind.

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why yes I’m pumped for CSA fruits and veggies.

let the pickling games begin.

let the pickling games begin.

If Martha Stewart can make buttercream flowers, I'll be damned to say I can't.

If Martha Stewart can make buttercream flowers, I’ll be damned to say I can’t.

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I cooked carnitas in a slow cooker. This was the only photo I took.

I cooked carnitas in a slow cooker. This was the only photo I took.

sprinkles making the world go boom.

sprinkles making the world go boom.

my favorite lamp from a flea market. of course I never bought a lamp shade for it. Com-pro-mise.

my favorite lamp from a flea market. 

honey & nutmeg mask

A friend of mine passed along seriously the best face mask recipe I’ve ever used. I’m in heaven. It makes your face smooth, your pores small, and can be used as an exfoliator. Yes, this is definitely not a beauty tips blog, but I couldn’t resist sharing. Here’s what you need:

  1.  Fresh nutmeg – just about a tablespoon grated. 
  2. Raw, natural honey. Not that bear stuff.

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Before making it, I prefer taking a shower. the steam opens your pores and preps your skin. Once ready, grate the nutmeg, about a teaspoon. Mix it with about a tablespoon of the honey. Rub it lightly on your face. If you have sensitive skin, don’t rub too hard as it will rough your face up a bit. Then, wait thirty minutes. Wash it off with warm water. And then I’d recommend blotting your face with some sort of toner, I use witch hazel ( like my sweet great grandmother used to do). 

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One very important sidenote: when first moving in with your boyfriend (or girlfriend. Or hell, anyone), I would recommend not putting this on and then sitting in the living room, waiting for the thirty minutes to pass. You will freak out said person. If it’s a male companion, he will remember why he was told at an early age that women are insane.

Last sidenote: place a paper towel around your neck. Honey drips. Enjoy!