Archive for the 'DIY' Category

Make Things.

Took a few glasses of wine to get the paintbrush working

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to Make Things. Paint, craft, DIY, sew, build, CREATE  (cooking excluded – I wanted to reach further out of my comfort zone). I finally busted open the acrylics on July 19. Better late than never?

I’ve always loved the idea of painting but my forays into figure drawing and studio classes have been pretty laughable. I’m no artist. But then I read this piece on Apartment Therapy about boosting your creative confidence (from a TED talk by David Kelley) and I’ve referenced it at least 5 times already. I have new hope. I’m going to quit being such a defeatist and commit once again to create more. I might not be able to make anything worthy of wall space… but I’ll focus on the therapeutic value.

Excerpts from the article worth committing to memory:

But recent research, including that in Jonah Lehrer’s recent book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, debunks the theory that creative types are born. New evidence points to the contrary: While creativity comes easily for some, it is a skill that can be honed and developed — by all.

… many adults “opt out” of creativity — a natural part of childhood — because they have come to believe that they are not good at it, or that it will not be lucrative. “That opting out [of creativity] that happens in childhood, he says, “moves in and becomes more ingrained by the time you get to adult life.”

The truth is, we are all creative — and creativity is critically important to health, happiness, self-worth, and innovation.

My, what a pretty pantry you have…

Someday I hope these words are uttered to me. What can I say – I’m a lofty dreamer.

Our mini Cambridge kitchen doesn’t have cabinets, nor a pantry. It has one measly shelving unit for flatware and another for food staples. In theory, I love open shelving.  This theory was researched thoroughly in the land of Pinterest-impractical-unattainable-money-grows-on-organic-trees-ville. In practice, sometimes you end up with an assault on the eyeholes, like this:

Enter the “magical warehouse of possibilities” (street name: IKEA). I came across these glass canisters and filled 3 of those ginormouse blue tarp bags up faster than Ethan could say, “I hate this place,” ten times fast. Since last year when we replaced all of our tupperware for glass, I’ve been on a mission to mostly rid our kitchen of plastics. These came in 3 handy sizes, cheap enough to buy in mass, air-tight, and stackable! I was giddy for days after this Sunday project.

To keep the look clean, I took a label maker and marked the bottoms of the different types of flours and how many minutes for “al dente” on each pasta. Next up – spice rack.

I think even E would agree it was worth this torture.

DIY Design Book

Flipping through Grace Bonney’s newly-released Design*Sponge at Home book tonight mining for inspiration.  Everyone keeps asking about the progress we’ve made on decorating the apartment and I keep having to embarrassingly repeat that there is nothing new to report.  I don’t know what my deal is… but between this summer’s job hunt and now our commitment to fall weekend trips, I have zero motivation to paint, upholster, or construct a damn thing.  The disorganization and provisional methods are really beginning to take a toll on my mood at home though, so it’s probably time to start tackling a few projects.

Who IS that giant dork at Grace Bonney's book signing?

We are in need of new media storage, badly, immediately… like, yesterday.  I’m digging this “faux-denza” made by The Brick House out of Ikea cabinetry.  Ideally, I’d love to find a rosewood or teak mid-century modern credenza for under $200.  But, ideally, I’d also like to own a yacht and look like Heidi Klum.  Ain’t gonna happen. This seems like a decent substitute and the cabinets would provide us with some much-needed storage and hopefully not dominate the room since it floats.

While I’m flagging a bunch of pages in D*S at Home, there are quite a few house tours included that are really not my style.  *I just had an epiphany.*  Wouldn’t it be great to compile your own curated design-inspiration in bound-book form?!  Yes, yes – it would make more sense to just tear out the sheets I want from decor books and use a binder… but I find demolishing books sacrilege, and it just wouldn’t be as pretty (duh).  I’m basically talking about taking all my Pinterest boards and uploading them to somewhere like Blurb.  Digital just can’t compete with bound books.  Sigh, only I’m sure the photo quality from the web shots will be pretty poor when translated into print… wish I could get my hands on all the original hi-res, cmyk source photos.  Might still be worth the shot.

Well, wait… maybe it would work better than I thought!  Here is a link to turn your blog into a book!  Hmmm, but again, what photos are they using?  This may require further investigation…

Rambling:  I generally get all these great ideas for posts during the day and then after the commute and nightly routine I have no energy left to write, edit, image-process, etc.  Going to try being more fluid like this and not over-thinking posts… see what forms as I begin to type.  Apologizes in advance for annoying-as-hell typos, but my boyfriend is ordering me to start going to bed at “real people time” and proof-reading is boring...

Coffee Table DIY

In terms of real estate, moving from Chicago to Boston was eye-opening for us.  Chicago is an amazing, amazing city for 20 and 30-somethings looking for the city lifestyle but without the grime and sprawl of L.A. and more manageable and affordable than NY.  Top-notch restaurants, great architecture, beautiful lakefront…. and a plethora of decent-sized, reasonably-priced apartments!  Apartment shopping in Boston was a bit of a shock – we went north of New York for a reason!  Alright, so it isn’t nearly as bad as New York prices, but it is considerably higher for what you are getting and we were adamant about having a 2 bedroom (for an office space) and living a short walkable-distance to city amenities (corner store, restaurants, T stop, etc).


sweet home chicago

We finally found a decent-sized* 2 bedroom in Cambridge but like our last place it is in an old building (we’re talking pre-PRE-war).  Tackling the awkward-sized rooms (and a multitude of other quirks) has been a challenge.  Before we moved we sold a lot of our old furniture (hand-me-downs, college remnants… it was time) hoping to start investing in new, grown-up pieces.  Only problem is, we haven’t won that lottery yet and while I love the idea of decorating our house slowly by finding pieces we only truly love, in reality there are some things you need in your house on a daily basis to make yourself comfortable.  Namely, a coffee table.**

Problem with coffee tables are that, in my mind, they should come last to complement the other parts of the room.  Fine, except when pretty much every other component of your living room is marked “to be replaced.”  With what?  I have no idea.  The great couch hunt of 2011 left me drained and confused.  While I have colors in mind, the problem with reading so many blogs is that I think my style preferences change daily.

Until I work through this design-identity crisis (I’m sure with deep and probing psychoanalysis), we decided to make our own temporary coffee table after being inspired by Kate of “For Me, For You” and her DIY desk.

Materials needed:

  1. Wood (we used two pieces of laminated pine to reach our desired size)
  2. Varnish, wood conditioner, brushes you will ultimately throw out (ugh)
  3. Pitcher of skip-and-go-nakeds (I’m a firm believer in home improvement cocktails)
  4. Willing and able boyfriend who mocks your Home Depot tantrum (and ultimately gets you in a better mood) and refuses to let you leave the store without buying the materials (even if they aren’t exactly what you wanted)

E fastening the connector plates. Ignore our AWFUL staining job (seriously, follow the directions, staining is no joke). It's just the bottom, right?!

Finished product!

We were pretty proud of the end result.  The hairpin legs allowed us to make the table large enough to fill our space but minimal enough not to overpower it.  I’m sure once I start decorating more seriously this winter and the new couches and media center are in place we will revisit the design, but for now it’s doing its job (mostly as mail collector, nail polish painting center, dinner table, and kitty obstacle).

*Dear old apartment, I miss, miss you.  I miss your washer/dryer in-unit, your central air, your 3 bedrooms, your dining room, your dishwasher and comically abundant cabinetry and outlets.  Hell, I’d even take you back with that sauna-esqe mini bathroom that allowed barely enough room to turn around.  I hope you are at peace in apartment heaven (or cursing the condo that killed you).

**When we first moved, I made an impulse buy off one of those daily deals sites for home goods.  I purchased (what looked like) a gorgeously glam coffee table that was more money than I had a right to be spending on a coffee table.  But we were excited to be decorating and thought, “What the hell, it’s a good deal, more than half off!”  When it showed up the shape was glamorous and I was still in love with the legs but the wood color was horrendously misrepresented and it was shipped dented and scratched.  The corner dents revealed it wasn’t even solid wood, only pressed sheets that were veneered.  The site was great about letting me return it but I was really annoyed.  I’m totally leery about these sites now because even though it looks like a great deal, in reality they are just jacking up the original retail prices and selling sub par quality goods. 

chicago photo found here.

about me

Newly-minted New Englander (via Chicago). In pursuit of a stylish home, vast art collection, wardrobe of classics, sagging bookshelves, culinary prowess, and a fully-stamped passport. You know, just the basics.

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"The secret to happiness in life is to be conscious of what is uniquely great about your current situation and put your focus there."



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