book by its color

when jason and i moved in together, we had to combine our book collections. when there is a pile of things that need to get organized, you bet i get excited. so i did what any person would do, i spent three hours organizing the books by author’s last name, naturally. that was about a year ago. we’ve collected more books over the year, and then there was the bat incident…(a bat somehow lodged itself between two bookshelves and broke it’s wing…and we had to take off all the books and trap it in a pot and pan. true story.)

so things have generally gotten a little less organized on the bookshelves. i had a thought of organizing by color, but then thought no, that would be crazy. then i saw what the finished product could look like on little green notebook. and i thought hey, it’s 8:30pm on a thursday night, sounds like a great time to start taking everything off the shelves…


and at about eleven thirty, after sorting the books into piles by genre (which i later nixed) and finding lots of funny things we’ve used as bookmarks in the past, i decided it was bedtime. as you can imagine, i was very pleased to come home to this after work on friday (jason is traveling, thank god). but the end result makes the ocd part of me very happy. what do you think?



and these little guys i picked up at goodwill for $2 were added to the mix:


here’s the view form above:


pretty great, no?


pillows of shame update

just wanted to share an update on our pillow situation, since i know you have been dying to hear about it. i had a chance to go back to the sewcial lounge this week and finish up my pillows of shame. good news: i significantly picked up my speed in making pillows. bad (or more like ‘meh’ news): i don’t like the combo of the headboard and the pillows together, so these babies are moving upstairs to the living room. check them out, don’t you just want to put your head on them?


and i’m liking the amount of texture we got going in our living room. although this picture makes it look like that yellow chair is just wedged in there, i don’t know how i feel about that:


oh and look! it’s winter again! it snowed 5 inches yesterday. i wish the weather would just make up it’s mind.


and the other side of the living room. with my favorite light fixture.


pillows of shame

you may remember that we upholstered a headboard last month for our guest bedroom/study. you may also remember that the original fabric couldn’t be used for the headboard due to the direction of the pattern, so, it was designated for pillows of shame. today, i made my first pillow of shame.


let’s start off by saying that i don’t know how to sew. that’s not to say that i haven’t used a sewing machine before – back in high school i was obsessed with the show “trading spaces.” i think i attempted a couple of things to no avail and gave up quickly. i wanted to learn how to properly use a sewing machine. it just seems like a good life skill.

anne joined me in taking a beginner’s class at the sewcial lounge – a local fabric shop owned by a really nice (and patient) girl who recently came back from her honeymoon in costa rica, so we had that in common.



while the class is three hours, it really does cover the fundamentals well. and now i have pillows of shame. and anne has a dinosaur pillow, which is so damn cute.

the finishing touch

the curtains are the sparkly bow on top of the present:


the study is done. it finally feels complete. i tried to take a panoramic of the whole thing, but unfortunately there is no good angle to take it at without it getting all warped. so, instead, here are some of the highlights of the individual pieces. part 1 – the dresser and part 2 – the lamp.


part 3 – the bed.


part 4 – office desk.


i don’t know what i love the most. now we just need guests to come over…and enjoy the new guest bedroom/office/study/globe storage area.

and here are a couple of lessons that i learned from all the DIY work:

  • don’t do projects that require the use of your garage in the winter. you’ll want to park your cars there.
  • double check. triple check. quadruple check the fabric you buy. or you’ll end up with pillows of shame. future pillows of shame, they’re on my list of things to make.
  • do not spraypaint inside. seriously.
  • you can return things to target all the time. over and over again. until you get it right.
  • bedskirts suck. why isn’t there something better out there? also jason and i fundamentally disagree about the use/need of bedskirts.
  • take better before pictures. i get too excited and get to work. and then i can’t show the upgrade quite like i want to.

now onto bigger and better things! just kidding. i think we’ll take a break from any big projects, and work on some little stuff. i’ve got no shortage of a list!

*update – jason gave me the satisfaction of crossing this off our chalkboard wall:

refinished office desk

our last big renovation project for the study is complete. and we finally have our garage back (well sort of, we’ve missed so many recycling days and i have an online shopping addiction so it’s currently still overflowing with boxes).


anyways, we purchased a desk from the UW Swap Shop for $35. first of all, that place is awesome. they sell the university’s old and used furtinute and other miscellaneous stuff for really cheap. and they have some hidden gems – maps, old books, card catalogues. we bought this desk which was in decent shape, but had some major scratches (the desk is on it’s side, it’s not the picture):


we took it home in a u-haul and it spent a solid week and a half in our garage without getting touched. it’s hard to focus on these projects during christmas when all you want to do is eat, drink, and hang out with family. so this weekend we decided to get to work. first we cleaned out the desk and took off all the hardware. we had an unexpected surprise – the desk was full of chemistry lab notes and pamphlets from the 80s. they are fantastic. the graphics are beautiful. the messages are hilarious.


anyways, after prepping the garage (and going cross country skiing!) we began with the stripping of the varnish. holy chemicals. this was not a pleasant task, but it did work pretty well after a couple applications. safety first my friends:


next, jason spent about 8 hours sanding down the desk. even with an electric sander this is no small job. he didn’t have the proper eye protection, so we improvised. these goggles weren’t going to make it to next year’s ski season anyways.


finally, after sanding and wiping everything down with tack cloth…and cleaning out our extremely dusty garage…we were ready for staining. this was actually the easy part. stain and wipe, and voila:


and then the boring part of sealing it all in. jason put on a couple coats of polyurethane to make it nice and shiny (and scratch proof). and then it was new year’s eve. new year’s day we finally got it into the house. goodbye falling apart ikea desk, hello new favorite:

a new upholstered headboard

we’ve made another day of progress on the study. today was the bed re-do:


this was our starting point. we wanted to change out the headboard and the bedding to mix things up:


ironically, we realized this morning that the fabric that i purchased originally and based most of the room design around wouldn’t work. the pattern would need to be sideways in order for it to be the right size. so…we had to scrap the original fabric and go out and buy something new. here is the original fabric. it’ll be made into pillows. pillows of shame:


after spending two hours driving around between the sewcial lounge (it’s a great local shop, i’ll probably take lessons there sometime), michael’s, joann fabrics, and menards, we finally got moving on the project. we started out with three separate pieces of wood that jason sawed and screwed together. if only we had a big enough car to get this all in one piece, that would have been convenient:


next, we glued two inch foam on the wood using the world’s most toxic glue:


we trimmed the extra foam off the board. you can see how the boards are bracketed together. i promise i was doing work i just also was the only one taking photos:


there i am. stapling the batting. corners are the worst:


and putting the final staple into the fabric:


and now to attach it to the wall. one of these on the headboard, one of these on the wall:


and there is the final product. i’m very happy with the result, this room is really starting to come together!


craigslist ceramic lamp re-do

study renovation update #2! i’ve found that really nice, big lamps cost about $250 dollars. so i went on craigslist, and found this ceramic lamp with a nice heavy base. the seller’s title for this ad was “gorgeous bedroom table lamp.” i didn’t challenge her.

so i spray painted it copper (note the beginning of the obsession here). i’d say a pretty dramatic change for pretty inexpensive (lamp = $20, shade = $25). i have to admit, i no longer have the desire to spray paint more things, which is probably a good thing.

*note the smaller lamp behind was one we had stashed in a closet that had a plain white base. the shade for that one was $15.

our old dresser gets a new life

stage one of downstairs bedroom/office (we call it “the study” because that sounds way cooler) is complete! we wanted to redecorate but didn’t want to buy new furniture, so we’re trying out some new projects. in this case, we took an old wood dresser and painted the outside a nice deep blue and changed out the hardware for copper.

and when you open the drawer you get a fun surprise, yellow! i couldn’t find any copper hardware so i actually just bought nickel and spray painted it. i’m obsessed with spray painting and jason is holding me back from spray painting other things (and myself) shiny.

here’s the final product with all the touchups and decorations completed.


kitchen curtains

i shouldn’t take credit for actually making these. or really putting them up. but i will take credit for setting into motion all of the events for getting them here. the curtains were made by CanvasCarnival, who was nice enough to make them for us twice after the original curtains were stolen in their packaging from our house.

summer view closed:

winter view open:


new and much improved railings

so background story is this: we’ve owned our town house for about 2 years, and for the most part we love the place. however, there were some minor details that the previous owners obviously slammed in at the last second in order to sell the place. they did so with little regard to craftsmanship. the railing is a perfect example. we have 2 long staircases, both with the cheapest of wood railing, and the best part: not a single bracket was put into a stud. i mean it actually takes work to miss every single stud. needless to say, the railing was ripping out of the wall or being pushed into the wall and it was unsafe, especially for me after knee surgery when i actually needed to use it. so my sister jenny and her boyfriend matt came to the rescue.

calling this things “i” made today is not fair. these are things i marginally participated in doing. most of the credit goes to matt. although i did help with the math portion of the project. but it’s been so long since i had to figure out angles, i think a high school student could have told us what angles to cut the wood to faster than we did the first time around.

we spent a long time just finding studs and figuring out the angles and lengths of everything. then all the cutting of the wood and sanding of the edges. and finally (after two days of work) we had the railings on the walls. here is the upstairs view:

then the next step was to stain and varnish the railings. this was pretty quick, and the end result looks great. and it’s safe. and our holes in the walls are patched. yay for home improvement!