Friday, March 28, 2014

Painted Kitchen Cabinets: Pros & Cons





One of my most popular posts is the Before & After of painting my kitchen cabinets, and people frequently ask how they are holding up.  It’s been about a year and half since I painted them, and as we’ve settled into having them the lighter color, I feel like I’ve learned what I like most about the change, and some things that aren’t so great.  Hopefully if you’re considering painting yours, this will help.

What I love:

The color completes me.  I *love* the warm white.  I know a lot of people go for the bright or true white, but that was a little too stark, a little too contemporary for me.  This color is somewhere between white and ivory, and for me, it is perfection.  
Again, for those who want to know, the color I used was a custom color match from Sherwin Williams.  The exact code for the color can be found HERE.  I had it mixed in the SW ProClassic paint, in a semi-gloss finish.

It feels like we added square footage to the kitchen.  Lightening things up really opens up the space, and shows off the higher ceilings.  In fact, the first time my sister came over after I finished them, her first comment was “it makes your kitchen look so much bigger” and I have to agree.  Love that.


It’s a blank canvas.  I love that I can change accessories with the seasons or on a whim with my mood, and no matter what colors I choose to work with inmy kitchen, they always look good.  Prior to painting, colors tended to look “muddy,” for lack of a better term, alongside the orange-y wood.  Now, they *pop*





What I'm NOT crazy about:

They do require a bit more maintenance.
Dust *does* show.  The positive to this con is that my kitchen cabinets are cleaner because I notice the dust more than I did when they were wood tone, therefore I clean them more often.  I don't mind it too much, but some people do.  Just be advised.

 There WILL be ongoing maintenance.
Even in parts of the country where the climate is fairly steady year-round, there are fluctuations in temperature, pressure and humidity that affect the wood in your home.
I don't know if the grain of the wood hides things or if it is something else, but for whatever reason, stained wood tends to disguise cracks and imperfections.  Once that wood is painted, they are spotlighted for all to see.  And that requires a little upkeep for things to stay lookin' good.

Here's an example:

When I initially painted the cabinets, this crack wasn't there.  It was painted and smooth and perfect.
But, after a year and a half of harsh Iowa winter, followed by a wet spring and an alternately oppressive and humid/scorching and dry summer, the wood would contract and expand and the paint finally had enough and broke away.

The fix is super simple... just some caulk and a swipe of paint...
 ...and it's good as new.  But bear in mind that things could start to look a little ghetto if you don't maintain the seams.  If this is something you're not down with, you might think twice before committing to painting your cabinetry.

Overall, I'm still thrilled with my cabinet makeover, and if given the choice I definitely would do it again.
But, no matter what paint you use or how gentle you may be, in one form or another white/light cabinets simply *will* require a bit more maintenance.  If you're cool with that, it's totally worth it to take the plunge.

Happy Painting!

Cheers,
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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Being Honest…A Year+ Later



Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve gotten a lot of different questions in the old (e)mail bag, ranging anywhere from the paint colors on my walls to where I got my dog (true story).

Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my experience with products from The Honest Company. 
Honest makes natural and eco-friendly family and home products, and is committed to providing products WITHOUT tons of harsh chemicals.

It seems there are a lot of folks who are interested in the line, and in their internet research they are coming across this post  I did a while back.  It’s been more than a year now that I’ve been an Honest Bundle subscriber, so I thought I would update my experience for those thinking about giving it a whirl (and saving you an email! ;) )

A few things have changed since I wrote that post back in June – and all for the better, I think. 
In the beginning, the only place you could find Honest products was on their website. 
 By and large, that’s still true.  However, just recently Honest has branched out to a few select retailers with some specific products, so customers can pick up their products in-stores.  In my area, a limited line of Honest products is carried at Buy Buy Baby, and there are a couple items (shampoo/body wash and the diaper gift cakes) available at Costco. 
Aside from buying the shampoo at Costco—it really is a great deal when you see how huge the containers are—it is still cheaper to subscribe to the bundling service.  By bundling, I save 35-40% off the retail price, and have the products delivered to my door rather than having to head out and buy them myself.  And I'm spending less than I would be on other brands, but getting a superior product (in my opinion, of course). You can choose to have your bundle delivered every 4, 5 or 6 weeks.  I do every 6 weeks and that works for us.  I think you have more options if you subscribe to the baby bundle, but I don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout that, Miss Scarlett.  ;)

So…. My experience with the bundle?  Easy A.  Honest is super about reminding me to update my bundle, letting me know when it’s shipped, and I actually have fun picking out my 5 products every month or so.  I’m all “oooh, what I am going to get THIS time?!”
 I know.  I need to get out more.  But whatev.
You can also download the Honest Co. app for FREE and manage your bundle from there, on the fly.  So that’s pretty sweet.

As for the products themselves?  I have yet to receive a product I wouldn’t order again. 
And I just counted, and I’ve literally tried 90% of the products offered in the home essentials bundle.  And that’s a lot.  The only product I didn’t fully LOVE was the sunscreen – it was very thick and kind of… sticky?  BUT, once I got it on my sensitive-skinned Miss CB, I was pleased with how it worked.  It held up and did get the job done.

My FAVORITE products are fo SHO’ the Healing Balm, Stain Remover and the Dish Pods.
The Healing Balm is a flat-out wonder tool.  I use it as diaper cream, and also for treating spots of eczema (both my girls get flare-ups in the winter months).  A little bit goes a long way so one tube lasts us for a while.
 With two young kids and an energetic and uuber-affectionate (read: bouncy and slobbery) dog, I use the stain remover with just about every load of laundry I do. 

It has replaced my Oxy-Clean Stain Remover, which I had previously regarded as the gold standard.  Also, the HCo. stuff smells light and crisp and divine.

Also, the dish pods are so awesome. 
We had been having a hard time with dishes for a while, dealing with that gnarly white build-up on glasses and things.  It’s a combination of hard water and the chemicals in dish detergent making that weird waxy “this ain’t right” stuff on the inside of glasses.
We popped in a dish pod for the first time with my free trial bundle, and when the cycle finished, Mr. V and I were both all “Wuut??” and we may have high-fived, because that ish was CLEAN.


The bottom line?  I'm still a happy customer, more than a year later, and I don't plan on discontinuing my bundle anytime soon. 
Think The Honest Company is for you?
Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

And FYI, The Honest Company isn't sponsoring this post, and is not compensating me for my thoughts on their products.  You just got one fat dose of 100% my opinion, yo, just because I felt like sharing it up in heeyuh.  Word.
 
Cheers,
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Friday, March 7, 2014

Crate & Barrel Dish Wall Mirror [Knockoff DIY]


I really love the Dish Wall Mirror from Crate & Barrel.  
We don't have a Crate & Barrel where I live, but I always seem to notice it in the catalog, and whenever I've been in the store elsewhere I notice how simple and pretty it is.
And then I sigh at the $269 price tag and move along.


The Alastair Convex Wall Mirrors from Ballard Designs are similar, but still a bit pricey (and while the convex glass is definitely cool, it reminds me of security mirrors in retail stores, and kind of gives me Walleye Vision)

So, I decided to make my own (duh duh DUUUHHH!! Clearly you're shocked ;) )

But what do you think?
I'm super happy with the results:

I had originally purchased these mirrors from Hobby Lobby (half-off, natch) to go with my guest room makeover.  I thought the colors would work, but the turquoise color was just too bright so I grey-washed it.
Then the colors were right, but somehow they looked too contemporary for the more rustic, farm-housey room.

So they sat in a drawer.
(And BTW, I'm sorry that this one image is posting sideways.
I've been messing with it for way too long, so I'm just gonna leave it.  Hopefully your neck won't suffer for too long... if it does...... stop looking. :) )

I had a wall in the office that was a blank slate and looking for something subtle, and these fit the bill.

I simply painted the frames black (I used chalkboard paint because I happened to have it on hand and it was too cold to spraypaint.  Apparently freezing in the middle of a Polar Vortex isn't ideal painting conditions.  Who knew.

After the frames were black, I just grabbed my rub'n buff (antique gold) and painted a thin band around the very center to give the illusion of a metal band.  It only takes just a teeeeny bit of rub'n buff to get the desired look - this stuff lasts forever!  I've had that same tube for more than a year and it's still almost full.
Normally I just use my finger, but I wanted a crisp line so I opted to use a brush for this project.



Done during naptime, with enough time to spare to catch the Hawkeyes on TV.
My kind of project! :)

Cheers,
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Friday, February 28, 2014

Decorating Myths & Breaking the Rules


Making your house feel like your home shouldn’t be a chore, and it shouldn’t be stressful.

Lately I’ve been finding a lot of people asking about the “rules” or saying things like: 
“I would love to do ____, but you’re not supposed to do that, right?”
That breaks my heart.   
We all have these preconceived notions about what we are “supposed” to do when it comes to home decor, and that's a load of poo.
Here's the only rule I think you should follow:
DO WHAT YOU LIKE.
Well, I love when I come across things that just seem to click. I came across this from Yorkshire Linen, busting the "Seven Myths of Home Decor."  I love how they are shooting down decorating "rules" and encouraging people to infuse their homes with their own personal style.
“The Rules” be damned! : )

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The World’s Most Boring Pantry Update. Like, Ever.




In the first three months of any given year, everyone gets “The Fever” and has organization on the brain.  It makes sense, after the excess of the Holidays and all.  I’m no different.  I’ve been trying to get things back into shape lately.  Finding homes for items and making our space more functional makes me feel good. 
This weekend I tackled the pantry.

Before you get excited, stop yourself.
I’m sure you’ve see the magazine spread-worthy pantry makeovers floating around Pinterest and Blogland lately.  This is NOT going to be one of those makeovers.
I sure do think they’re pretty, but they’re not realistic -- for me, anyway. 
Oh, and here’s one thing that may put my “home blogger” card in jeopardy:
I don’t mind wire shelving.
Seriously, it’s true.
Is it my first choice?  Nope.
Do I think it’s beautiful?  Not really.
But, it works and it’s what we’ve got and I can think of literally 250 things I would rather spend money on than ripping out perfectly functional wire shelving IN A CLOSET and replacing it with wood shelving.
So yeah.

 Now, onto the wincing "before":
Well... that's a bit embarrassing.  And messy.
Our pantry is basically a closet.  It has deep shelves which are simultaneously helpful and irritating. 
You can see in the before picture, my biggest problem is that I let the “mess” get out of hand.  More than anything, it just needed some organization, and thought about function.

The most irritating thing to me, though, was all the stuff that just kept “collecting” at the bottom.  Things that rarely got used (breadmaker, I’m looking at you) or that didn’t have a designated place just kind of got shoved down there.  I also kept heavy items like juice and liquor bottles and 2-liters there, because I didn’t want them maiming the [lovely ;)] wire shelving.

To help with the space at the bottom, I grabbed this wooden crate half off at Hobby Lobby.  

THANK YOU HOBBY LOBBY FOR LABELING THIS.
Because man, how else would I have figured out that this was, indeed, a “Wood Box?”  Jeepers.

So, my first order of business was sanding off that lettering.
Then I just stained the box a weathered grey, added casters to the bottom and all of a sudden the junk-filled spot at the bottom of the pantry had a cute, accessible and functional solution to corral all that extra stuff.  And, it gets things off the floor, which I like.


Now that all that extra stuff is out of there, I guess I’d better paint that trim, huh? : )
The rest of the pantry just got an assist from common sense and a few containers to corral things by function.
The large wire baskets are from IKEA and are great for containing things that don't like to stay put on their own (bags of chips, goldfish crackers, bread, etc.)  Inside the bottom large basket are two smaller ones where we have fruit bars and granola bars that are on the kids' level for easy access.

The large wire basket up top helps keep together elements for lunches, and "portable" stuff, like plastic flatware and paper plates, straws, napkins and disposable dishes for taking over a meal to a friend or neighbor.

The second shelf down contains elements for dinners and sides - beans, pasta, sauces... and the shelf below that is more baking/cooking ingredients.  Flour and Sugar are in my stainless canisters, and other bags of ingredients that I don't use as often (powdered sugar, brown sugar, chocolate chips) go in the "baking basket" on the far left.
 

This pantry isn't glamorous, and it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out.  
But, it's giving everything a place and after getting a lot of use lately, it's *still* looking nice and tidy. 
And THAT'S mind-blowing. : )



Cheers,
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Easy Winter Tablescape

Like many of you, we've been mired in wintry weather for some time now.
 And it can be a little... blah.

So creating something pretty in the midst of a snowy Polar Vortex ;) seems like just what the doctor ordered.

Check out this pretty winter tablescape:

This is my sister's table, all ready for Christmas dinner.
Wait, what?
Yes - she created this beautiful, simple arrangement that can take you from Christmas through Valentine's Day seamlessly.

I'm one of those people who likes to change up my centerpieces/table decor with the seasons.  There's no rule that says you have to; I just like to.
BUT, I don't like having to change things out every month.
This is a perfect solution for covering lots of bases.

She took timeless components like mercury glass and elements of nature to create the overall look.


The candlesticks give varied heights, and the vases carry the mercury glass look, but the cool ribbed texture keeps things from being "matchy."

She used pinecones (free from the backyard!  Perfect!) for a definite "winter" vibe, but brought thoughts of spring with fresh tulips and hydrangea, but kept them in a soft winter-white.

The candles provide warm drops of color.
On Christmas, the red fit right in - she added a few silver ball ornaments for the holiday vibe.
These days, just a few paper hearts sprinkled around the bases would make the red in this arrangement a perfect Valentine's Day dinner tablescape, without (almost) changing a thing!

(AND, because every time I post a photo of it, I get questions about the DIY Photo Table Runner.  You can find out how to make your own HERE. :) )


Changing up your decor for the seasons doesn't have to be a big to-do.  By using timeless pieces, layering texture and color, you can create a look that will last for months with minimal tweaking.

Cheers,
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