Jan 24, 2011

Wood Stain

Since I hardly put a dent in the wood stain I bought to paint the vanity in our powder room, and because I want to get my monies worth, I decided to put the dark mahogany Minwax stain to good use. 

I'm currently working to spruce up the an old chair (that I trash picked) and our fireplace.  Below is what my chair and fireplace currently look like.  As you can see...in desperate need of some love. 

I'll share the "after" images in just a of couple days!  Stay tuned. 

Jan 23, 2011

Street Cred

Apartment Therapy is hosting an online contest, The Homies:  Best Design Blog of 2011, dedicated to celebrating the "best new home design blogs" and the "richness and awesomeness of shelter bloggers."  That's me! 

I'm an amateur blogger who started First Home Makeover in February 2010.  I love my home, writing about the projects we've tackled and taking you along on our home improvement journey. 

Here we are.  Two ambitious newlyweds.  Ready to tackle any project that gets in the way of our vision for a kick-ass home.  Watch it now.

You know what they say, "Think BIG!"  These words are important:  "Believe that you have it, and you have it."  I'm thinking big right now and it's worth a try for a shot at being the "Best Design Blog of 2011." 

If you'd like to help me get more street cred in the blogging areana, you can nominate this site by  going to The Homies:  Best Design Blog of 2011 and entering First Home Makeover and the URL in the "comments" field at the bottom of the page.  And heck, while you're at it, you can help all your favorite bloggers gain street cred by nominating them too.

Here's to thinking big.  Thanks for stopping by.

Jan 20, 2011

How I Shop For Wine

I was in Anthropologie on Monday - man I love their stuff.  If there was a location closer to me, or if I could actually afford to buy anything there, I'd pop in more frequently.  My husband bought me an Anthropologie sweater for x-mas and it was just too "crunchy granola" for my taste, so I exchanged it for a nice brown leather purse that was on super sale.

This awesome jewelry stand (or is it a hanger?) caught my eye.  I probably would've taken this home with me if it weren't $180.  I wish someone could replicate it for me, for like $20.  That would be so nice.

Of course I checked out the home furnishings, accessories and the other odds and ends.  There is lots of great stuff to buy there. 

Check out this awesome doily pattern used as a back board.  How freakin' cool is that?  I'm seriously thinking I need to make this.

So I left the store with my new leather purse and I was feeling fierce.  I wanted to top off my good mood with a nice glass of wine.  And since I was in New Jersey, where the liquor stores are cheap and come a dime a dozen, I popped into one to stock up on vino. 

When in Jersey, we like to buy wine in bulk.  We frequent B.Y.O.B.s and love to have company over so it makes sense to always have a well stocked wine bar.  I ended up buying some great wines.  How do I know they're great?  I don't.  What I meant was that I found some great wine labels

How do you shop for wine?  I'm by no means a wine expert, so I don't try to act like one.  I don't pay attention to regions, vintage or even know what makes a good wine.  But here's what I know - I like colors, art, uniqueness, funky images, textures and shapes.  So that's how I shop for wine.  If it's intriguing, interesting, draws me in or looks and feels nice then I buy it.  

These are some bottles I ended up with.  Pepi.  La Bastarda.  Cats Peeing on a Gooseberry Bush.  I love it!  I actually don't like cats but I adore the green.  And I wonder what Wily Jack is looking at.  He has a handsome profile.  

Jan 18, 2011

Powder Room Heaven

On December 18, I received a call at work from Rob.  He said, "Guess what I did?"  I thought maybe he took my chair to get reupholstered.  "What babe?" I asked.  Rob responded, "I just took an ax to the bathroom and it's completely gutted.  Toilet and all!" 

If you're not an enthusiastic DIY couple like us I'm pretty sure this news would be terrifying to hear.  And especially if you had no ideas or plans for what you wanted to do with it.  But me, I was excited.  My only wish is that Rob's timing for his random act of demolition hadn't come one week before Christmas and three weeks before a baby shower was being thrown at our home. 

We briefly talked about redoing this bathroom, but NOTHING was definite and we never discussed timing.  So, although I was excited to hear the news, I was also stressed because we had no idea what we were going to do.  But knowing you have 20 plus people coming to your home in less than three weeks for a party is a good way to kick your butt into mega work mode.  We devised a plan really fast. 

Here's what our bathroom looked like on the morning of Dec. 18th.  I took this picture with my old iPhone during our final walk through in Aug. 2009 - so I apologize for the quality.

And this is what the bathroom looked like after demolition.

But now, our bathroom looks like this.  Heavenly.

The inspiration for this bathroom came from several different images.  To see my inspiration images check out the Inspire Me page.

Xylem manufactures the white Marble counter top.  I ordered it from FaucetDirect.com on a Wednesday and had it in my living room by Monday - I'm an extremely happy customer.  Most local retail stores could have ordered this for me but the average delivery time was 2-3 weeks.

The light fixture is from Home Depot.  It's more modern and attractive than I thought it'd be.

The mirror is Martha Stewart

The knobs are a nice touch that we added on the vanity doors.

This is where the old toilet used to be.
It's a stinky job - but somebody had to do it

And this is our new and improved, slow closing lid and comfort height, Kohler toilet.

I purchased the picture frame above the toilet at a local thrift store

I want to tell you about some of the things we did to our bathroom...

Below is a picture I took when I was setting the tile.  That's correct, when "I" was setting the tile :) .  We both agreed that I'd be the best person for the job because I'm the more detail oriented one.  And when you set tile you have to make sure you get the lines extremely straight, otherwise the imperfections will show when you grout. 

We were lucky because the floor was cement and level.  If the floor had been wood we would've had to lay sheets of cement to create a hard surface and level it out.  We simply mixed up thinset and then I applied it straight to the cement floor with a trowel, shown below. 

As I set the tile in the thinset, I placed spacers in between the tiles to help assist me in getting perfectly straight lines.  The spacers helped - especially because sometimes the tiles can shift as they're drying.

Once the tile was set and dry and the counter top was installed, it was time for me to apply the glass tile backsplash.  These tiles were super easy to work with and thank goodness they can be purchaed on square foot sheets, otherwise I would've never attempted this backsplash. 

I used the same thinset and trowel that I used to set the tile on the floor.  We used nine sq.ft. of  tile for the back wall and about one and a half for each of the side walls.  When the tile was set and dry, we grouted with a sandless white mixture.
I decided to keep the vanity we had and stain it a dark mahogany.  It took some convincing on my part to get Rob to agree to this, since he really wanted to buy a brand new one.  But once he priced out a few vanities he realized  how much money we could save and quickly jumped on the thrifty boat. 

To achieve the dark mahagony vanity we envisioned, first I sanded all the wood with 220 grit sandpaper.  When I was finished sanding I used a tact cloth to thoroughly wipe the wooden doors and vanity base.  Tact cloths are great for removing teeny dust and dirt particles that can ruin a paint job if left on.

I used a MINWAX wood stain and conditioner on the vanity.  The wood conditioner is great for preparing your wood for stain and it helps you apply even coats of stain onto the surface.  I chose a wood stain with Polyurethane already in it - this was a super time saver and allowed me to skip a crucial and important painting step. 

You should invest in a higher end brush made especially for oil paints, finishes and stains because it will hold up longer and is easier to clean.

This shows how our Maple doors looked after just one coat of Bombay Mahogany wood stain.  I painted four coats of stain, allowing each coat to dry for five hours, before I achieved the look I wanted.  Notice how there are no knobs on the doors?  Rob installed the silver knobs onto the doors.

My original plan was to stencil this design on the powder room walls and fill in with a high gloss paint, but unfortunately the time crunch got the best of me. 
Plan B?  I had a large gold picture frame in the closet that I bought for $10 in a thrift shop.  Is gold making a come back?  Since I didn't have time to paint the stencil, I decided to add a piece of patterned fabric into the picture frame.  The fabric was on super sale at JOANN for $4.

And that concludes this long tutorial.  I hope you enjoy the "after" images as much as we love how it all turned out.

If you saw something in these pictures that you have a question about please, please feel free to shoot me an email - I'd be happy to hear what you have to say (good or bad) and answer your questions. 

Thanks again for stopping by and checking out my latest DIY project.  Good night!

The DIY Show Off Weekend Bloggy Reading UndertheTableandDreaming

Jan 11, 2011

Baby Shower for My Lil' Sis

My oh my.  It's been quite some time since I've blogged.  I really hate when I neglect my blog.
I hope you had a fantastic holiday and a wonderful New Year.  I was very busy - but my busy madness was well worth it my friends, because I got a whole lot accomplished.

Since Dec. 18th my husband and I completely remodeled our Powder Room [that story and pictures is for tomorrow], I threw my lil' sis, Danielle, a surprise baby shower, we spent four days in Florida for Christmas and I enjoyed some good company and a fun night out on my birthday. 

Check out the pictures below from the baby shower.  I made a bunch of tissue paper balls, popcorn cones and homemade favors for the party goers. 

I wanted to keep things simple.  Too many balloons and decorations could have easily made my home look like a decorating disaster. 

I hung tissue paper balls above the dining room table, in the front bay window and above the dinette table in the kitchen. My twin sis and I mastered the art of crafting tissue balls several months ago - Practice Makes Perfect. They were so darn adorable - and elegant!
The "oh baby!" sign was something I whipped up from left over scrapbook paper.  The letters and animal images (on the reverse side) were printed off the internet. 

And of course I had to do something cute on my new chalkboard wall.  I sketched these little guys from the wrapping paper I bought.  Too cute. 

Can you see the animal images on the reverse side of my "oh baby!" sign?

Do you remember the elephant cookie jar that I mentioned awhile back, here? Anyhow, I snagged this cutie for $6 on one of my frequent thrift store visits.  I wasn't crazy about the orange hat so I spray painted it green!
Popcorn cones!  These were sooooo easy to make.  Guests enjoyed them and because Danielle loves popcorn, they were a def winner! 
Small colored paper bags filled with assorted chocolate covered nuts made for an easy party favor.

My DIY credenza came in good use as a drink station.  Did you notice I finished the doors?

And the gorgeous guest of honor, Danielle.  The cutest lil' prego person ever.  I hope I have her pregnant gene.  Ya know, the one when you're prego and the only thing on your body that gets bigger is your belly gene? Yup. That one.

Danielle sat on my Aubergine Chaise Lounge (which I scored on QVC's website for almost $100 cheaper than Urban Outfitters' price) while she opened gifts under the umbrella and tissue paper balls that were hung, with care :)
We played a cute game which WAS NOT a snore - I'd never do that to you.

We sat around and had lots of great conversation - and lots of great bubbly, too! 

And after lots of great bubbly, we insisted on rubbing the belly for good luck.  Holy crap - we felt the baby kick.  Oh. How. Adorable.

The baby shower was perfect and the best part about it was that Danielle loved it!!  I hope you're inspired to take an idea or two from this shower and incorporate it into one of your own parties! Good Luck.