My bedroom

Bedroom

As much as I love the black paint in our bedroom (FYI, this is the gross color of the room before I painted), I haven’t always loved the room itself. For a long time, it wasn’t finished and it just wasn’t how I wanted it to be.

About two years ago, Daniel and I decided to build a big headboard as a “Do It Together” activity. But we ran into so many problems that we all but abandoned the project. Turns out, button tufting is a huge pain in the ass and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I’ve come to realize that tufting is an upholstery project that you should always just take to a professional. It would have cost us less grief AND less money just to have someone else do it.

Fish scales

BUT, since we had already sunk the money into the foam, fabric, and button-covering kits, PLUS we already paid to have the movers bring it from Seattle with our furniture, we decided we finally needed to make this work. I’m about to start a really busy year of school, after which we will be moving into Chicago. The thought of shame-moving a giant unfinished craft project for a second time was finally enough to overcome our apathy. It took about a full week of dedicated work and a few minor arguments, but we finally got this thing finished and hung!

Bedroom

Another challenge in the bedroom was the bed. We bought a king-size platform bed from Overstock when we moved to Capitol Hill (Seattle) two years ago. It wasn’t the best quality, but it was what we could afford and it was really important to us to have a king bed. It worked just fine in our old apartment, but when we moved here, the uneven, slippery hardwood floors became a problem. The little legs that hold up the support beam that runs down the center of the bed kept falling down. Quite honestly, it usually occurred during nighttime activities, which was a double bummer.

Bedroom

For the past few months we’ve resorted to propping up the beam with piles of cookbooks, but we needed a permanent solution. So on Tuesday Daniel and I went to Home Depot, bought a 4×4 post, and had a guy cut it down into 8 squat, stable little legs. We used wood glue and screws to attach the legs to the support beam and now the bed is so stable. Hooray!

Sometime in the next year or so, we need to replace our junky old Ikea mattress, but for now, I am feeling pretty good about the bedroom. Good enough to finally take some photos.

Bedroom

Keep in mind this is the ONLY time this room has ever been this clean.

And here are a few panorama shots since it’s hard to get perspective when you’re shooting in a small room (click to embiggen):

Bedroom panorama

Bedroom panorama

Cozy, right?

Awesome shelving unit

(This is an old post I started writing back in November 2011. Even though it is not very timely, I thought you all might still want to read it!)

When we started making plans for decorating our current apartment, Daniel asked for some websites to read for inspiration. You see, my blog feed reader basically consists of equal parts design blogs and feminist/womanist/progressive blogs (with a sprinkling of critters sites, of course), and I’m also on Pinterest regularly. Daniel mostly reads about fashion and food, so while he isn’t design-illiterate, he literally just didn’t know where to look for ideas and inspiration. The first place I sent him to was The Brick House. Morgan’s blog has been a major inspiration for all the projects we’re attempting in the new place. Her aesthetic is spot-on and she is a major deal-hound.

So I promised a long time ago I would show you how we built the shelving unit in our living room. I have to be honest and admit that we ripped off the whole concept of the shelf from The Brick House. When I showed Daniel a picture of her unit and told him I wanted to copy it, he was immediately on board.

Shelving unit from The Brick House

shelving unit

Our version

Despite the fact that Morgan had pretty much laid the whole thing out for us, this was still a beast and we made so many (expensive!) mistakes. But it is just awesome, don’t you think? Here is how we did it:

First, we planned some changes to the inspiration unit to better fit our needs. We added an extra short shelf on the right to accommodate all our books, and then to keep the whole thing balanced-looking, we shifted the lowest shelf to the left side.

The whole shelving unit is built with steel plumbing/gas pipes and pine boards from Home Depot. It is only attached to the wall at the top with 4 screws in each flange, but since the poles are all steel and completely inflexible, the unit is really solid and stable.

After we had our favorite design sketched out, we planned how many pieces of each size pipe we would need. Here is our final* shopping list:

Assorted lengths of 3/4″ black gas pipe (you can totally use cheaper 1/2″ pipe for a slimmer look)

  • 20 – 6″ pipe (for shelf supports)
  • 4 – 8″ pipe (for the top pipes that go to the wall)
  • 11 – 12″ pipe
  • 2 – 18″ pipe
  • 2 – ~32″ pipe (custom cut & threaded to the same length as 18″+tee+12″)
  • 1 – ~43″ pipe (custom cut & threaded to the same length as 12″+tee+12″+tee+12″)

(You can buy one big 10′ pipe and have the guy at Home Depot to cut and thread it into our three custom-length pieces).

Fittings for 3/4″ gas pipe:

  • 20 – elbow joints
  • 16 – T-joints
  • 8 – base flanges

Wood:

  • 2 – 1″x12″x88″ pine boards
  • 3 – 1″x12″x48″ pine boards

(We bought three 1″x12″x8′ boards and had Home Depot cut them to the lengths we needed).

    Other stuff:

  • black spray paint
  • drill and spade bit (I think we ended up with a 1 1/4″ size bit)
  • wood stain – we used Minwax wood conditioner and stain in Special Walnut 224.

After a trip to Home Depot, we came home with a ton of greasy, dirty black gas pipes from the plumbing section. We decided to use black gas pipes instead of the shiny steel water pipes because gas pipes are a little cheaper and we knew we were going to paint them anyway.

Daniel laboriously peeled the sticker off each pipe and washed them in the bathtub with lots of soap. Then he spray painted them black. (Pro tip: assemble the pipes or tape off the ends before painting or you will muck up the threads).

building the shelving unit

Meanwhile, I sanded and stained the shelf boards and drilled holes for the pipes to go through. Each shelf needs 1 hole for each upright that goes through it. The holes go along the front edge of the shelf.

Once all the components were prepped (and we caught and fixed all our mistakes!) we laid everything out and got to building:

building the shelving unit

In the photo above you can see how all the components come together. The elbow joints sit at the back of each horizontal shelf support. Each shelf rests on top of the flat ends of the elbows and the top of the T-fittings. Four of the flanges are used as flat bases at the bottom of each upright (they’re not drilled into the floor) and the other 4 flanges sit flush against the wall and are screwed in.

There were a few tense moments before we were sure everything would lock in place, since there’s not a lot of wiggle room. But the assembly part came together so much quicker than all the tedious prep – it only took about 10 minutes total to build.

building the shelving unit

building the shelving unit

Ta-da! Our giant, awesome, custom shelving unit. It takes up the whole wall and it only cost a couple hundred dollars to make, including the cost of our errors. Speaking of mistakes…

* Here are all the things we messed up at first, and their approximate cost to fix. Homemade may be better, but it is only cheaper if you don’t fuck up.

  • Bought 3/4″ black gas pipe instead of 1/2″ like we planned to (and like the Brick House unit). I have no idea how that happened. Cost difference: +$60
  • Bought 8″ pipes for shelf supports, drilled the holes in the wood shelves, and then I realized I drilled the holes as if for 6″ supports. Since we had already washed and painted all the 8″ pipe, we couldn’t return it. Cost: $50 and an extra trip to Home Depot
  • Bought the wrong size spade bit to drill the holes in the boards. Cost: $5 and an extra trip to Home Depot
  • Realized we forgot to buy a board for one of the shelves we had planned. Cost: An extra trip to Home Depot, plus the cost of the board we were already planning to buy.

Yes, that is 4 extra trips to Home Depot over the course of a week. Later that week, we blew a fuse in the kitchen and had to run to HD again before we could make dinner.

Edison’s chandelier

Edison's chandelier

The chandelier Daniel and I built, looking all moody. I was finally able to get a good picture of it all lit up.

apartment tour – living room

What can you say about a living room? Ours is pretty awesome – it is roomy, with a big south-facing window, old scarred-up hardwood floors, arched doorways and and high coved ceilings. We also have a big double closet and a little office nook off of the living room. The landlord painted for us, but we got to pick the color, so of course I chose gray. It is Behr “Ashes”. Let’s do this in pairs of “before” and “now” photos:

living room

shelving unit styled

This is what you see when you first walk in – you can see the dining room off to the left. Daniel and I built the giant shelving unit, and it totally deserves its own post. I am not really happy with the way the shelves are styled yet, and of course we need to do something about all those cords. We’re trying to live with the cords for a few weeks to make sure we have them exactly like we want them, and then we’re going to tack them neatly along the wall.

living room

living room

To the right of the shelf thing is the doorway to the (messy) office and then the closet is on the adjacent wall. Walter’s crate and all his shit is in the corner off to the right, but as much as I love that little guy, his gear isn’t cute.

living room

living room

And here is the other side of the room and the big wonderful windows. Seriously, this apartment has a lot of awesome qualities, but it was the windows that really sold me. I was so sick of cave living. The wall above the couch is another unfinished space; obviously we need some art there, but I don’t want to rush it. Also, that floor lamp has gotta go.

The living room is definitely a mix of pieces we already had, plus some important new additions. Obviously the shelving unit is new, and we also swapped out our old coffee table. The couch and purple chairs are old.

living room

And ten there’s the hutch. We gotta talk about that awesome mid-century hutch. I am gonna do a whole separate post on all the new vintage stuff in our place, but you can obviously tell right now that the hutch is badass.

living room

Things that still need to happen in the living room:
1). Corral the cord mess – seriously, look at that photo.
2). Replace the floor lamp with something better-looking
3). Hang some art above the couch
4). Re-style the shelving unit
5). Organize the office, since it is completely open to the living room.
6). Long term, I want to get a rug. Maybe by winter, depending on how cold the hardwood floors feel on our feet.

Only the little spaces left – hallway, kitchen, bathroom, and office!

apartment tour- dining nook

If there is one thing about an apartment that makes you feel like a real grown up, it is having an official dining room. Our dining nook may be tiny (and also house the refrigerator!) but it is a huge step up from the lap-eating that we were doing in our last place. Here is a “before” shot:

dining nook

We love the extra-wide arched doorway. The kitchen is through the arch and to the right, so in addition to housing the fridge, the nook also serves as a walkway. Here is the finished room – you can just barely see the fridge at the bottom right.

dining room AFTER

The window faces west onto the alleyway and gets great afternoon sun. Unlike the bedroom, the dining room came together really cheaply. The orange table was a free find off the street corner and we ran out and snatched it up. It appears to have been made for use in a school or something. It is just the perfect size for our little dining nook. The coral chairs came from a school down the street via Craigslist, and they cost a total of $12.

The little white cabinet is a favorite Ikea piece that used to live in our old living room. It kind of looks like a locker, doesn’t it? Combined with the giant alphabet print on the wall, I guess we may be going a little heavy-handed on the “vintage schoolhouse” theme. Whatever, I think it looks nice.

dining room AFTER

The most expensive item in the whole room is definitely the chandelier, at around $100 (including an emergency run to the hardware store to replace the fuse we blew). I have been dying to make this chandelier ever since it appeared in ReadyMade 2 years ago. It is made of glass balls from CB2 plus some basic electrical supplies from the hardware store.

I built the fixture and Daniel hardwired it in and installed a dimmer switch. And so can you! Hard wiring a light fixture is really not a big deal. We already have vague future plans to build this chandelier for the bedroom at some point.

So while it is a little bit of a squeeze, we can comfortably seat 4 people at the table – in fact, we’ve already hosted guests twice. The table is just the perfect size for the space. The only bummer is that since the table has to sit off-center to accommodate the fridge and walking space, the chandelier hangs kind of in the way. Daniel already cracked one of the balls with his head. Oh well, glass balls are cheap!

dining room AFTER

This room is pretty much finished. I did buy some oilcloth to make a table cover, and we may recover the chairs someday too. Oh, and I want to mount my pretty plate collection over the archway. But for right now, this room is really livable.

Next up: the living room!

wedding invitations are out!

Here are our invites. I’m so happy with how they turned out! I have lots of pictures, interspersed with musings on the whole invitation-making process.

invitation:

wedding invitations!

rsvp:

wedding invitations!

wedding invitations!

I designed them in Publisher with free fonts from dafont and some free vector graphics I found online. Designing paper goods takes a lot more time than you would think, but I’ve pretty proud of the end results. I would say the design is *almost* as well done as if we had hired a professional. The quality is definitely not super-awesome (it would have been so awesome if we could afford letterpress!), but it’s definitely respectable.

Here’s the whole suite together, along with some of the paper flowers I’ve been making to decorate the hall:

wedding invitations!

We had them printed and cut at Kinko’s using their standard gray cardstock and I ordered the envelopes from envelopemall.com (Pop Tones Tangy Orange – what a great color!). Since our wedding color palette revolves around orange, I was thrilled when USPS came out with last year’s LOVE stamp. (Annoyingly, they retire the love stamps in April every year, so we almost weren’t able to scrounge up enough for all our invites. Daniel was a hero and found 3 books for us!)

stamps

We also designed wrap-around mailing labels and had Kinkos print them on sticker paper.

wedding invitations!

Oh, and we are asking guests to draw critters on the backs of the RSVP postcards. So far, we have 100% participation, but we’ve only gotten 2 cards back.

In the end, it was somewhat less expensive than the cheapest professional invitations (like wedding-paper-divas or whatever) and a LOT more affordable than all the adorable hand gocco’d and letterpressed invites I enjoy perusing on etsy. They took forever to design, print, and send, but they are fun an totally worth it.

wedding invitations!

Here’s Daniel looking cute and excited after addressing all 50 envelopes!

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