Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hanging out by the Pool

Summers in Virginia are too hot to go pool-less, and since our neighborhood is still working on selling enough houses to support the neighborhood pool we were promised would be up within a year of us moving in (so bitter), it was up to us to squeeze a little pool into our backyard.

After relocating some plants, we laid out our soon-to-be pool.  I was pretty sure the 12' model would be too big, but it looks like we have a little more room.  We'll upgrade from this 10' next year, and gain a whole extra 6" of depth.

Usually, cheap stuff is harder to set up.  Not this guy.  All we had to do was inflate the upper ring...

Attach the filter hoses, and fill... 

Smooth out as many wrinkles as possible, and fill some more...

And fill...

It sets up pretty much all by itself, which was pretty neat to watch.  It took a few hours to fill up completely, and we have a little bit of a "deep end" because our lot slopes gently and I wasn't about to get a truck full of dirt to level it out.

It's one step up from a teeny sit-and-soak pool.  Not big enough for the grownups to swim, but plenty large for the Kiddo to practice in between swim lessons and splash around.  

But, it is totally big enough for my floatie.  The cupholders are a nice perk.

All that was left was a place to hang wet towels.  There are a LOT of cute hook options - whale tails, mermaids, other various body parts of marine creatures.  Ultimately, I decided on something a little less theme-y.  It didn't have anyyything to do with me happening upon 3 perfectly serviceable hooks at Marshall's for $4 each.  

I just screwed directly into the deck post, and hung these guys on the 3 sides closest to the pool.  I made sure to hang them low enough to have some hope of the Kiddo hanging his towel up.

Pro tip: Make sure the head of your screws actually fit inside the hangers BEFORE you screw them into the post.

Anybody else having a backyard Summer?  Any words of wisdom/experience with little above ground pools?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bed of my dreams

When the then-soon-to-be-Mr. and I moved in to our first apartment together, I started pulling dream house/decor ideas out of magazines, and saved my favorites in a cute binder.  This started a little more than 10 years ago, and way before Pinterest, but I've saved and added to that binder since then.

One of my first pulls was this bed. When I figured out where this bed came from, and its price tag, I was pretty sure it would stay in dreamland for me.

Pulled from Martha Stewart Magazine

But, oh, I loved this bed.  I have never loved another bed like I loved this bed.  All other beds paled in my mental comparison of them to this bed.

And then there was a sale, and a just-big-enough hole in my budget.  So off to Ethan Allen we went.

We met with the nicest Design Consultant ever (locals - Megan Vogel in Fredericksburg, VA)  Which, yes, it's part of her job to be nice to people splashing out nearly $2,000 for a bed; but, when we told her we were there just for the Quincy bed, there was zero pressure to add or even look at anything else.  It was really refreshing.

I didn't need help picking the style, but I had to get a little advice about the multiple beautiful finish options.  While the black finish had been in my mind for years, our bedroom is pretty small, and I was pretty sure that would be overwhelming in the space we've got, given the size and scale of the bed.

After I showed her pictures of our existing room, our Consultant agreed we'd need something a little softer.  The Mr. and I had thought grey would be a better alternative, neutral but a little more interesting than plain white.

Do you know how many greys there are in the world?  So many different greys.  OK, 5.  Still.

Our Consultant patiently let us pore over the samples, and then suggested one of the shades we hadn't even considered based on its online swatch.  She didn't have a sample of it, but there were a few finished pieces in the showroom we could look at.  It was really nice to be able to see how the finish looked in different light, and over a larger surface, as well.

So we wound up ordering it in Dove Gray (which looks NOTHING like its almost tan swatch online), and I love it so, so, so much.

After the order went in, we got a lovely, personal, hand written note from our Consultant thanking us for our purchase and complimenting our Kiddo.  I can say I have spent way more (cumulatively) at Ikea, and nobody ever wrote me a note to say thank you.  It was a very nice touch, coupled with the status updates she emailed us regularly.  Undeniably, these are the keys to my heart and loyalty forever.  

The delivery guys came early this morning.  They had it all set up and beautiful in less than an hour.

I've never had someone else put together a piece of furniture for me, or carry pieces up 2 sets of stairs (Mr. and Dad excluded, of course).  It feels fancy.

Now I finally have a good place for these shams - which looked too big on our smaller metal bed.  They were part of my great-grandmother's trousseau, hand stitched and full of love.

But I have a new first world problem - nearly everything else in the bedroom looks sad and cheap (because it is!)  The bedside lamps are too small.  I think the rest of the bedding could have a little more interesting texture, and probably needs a little decorative pillow in the middle there.  The drapes hang strangely.  My cyclist print needs a new frame and a relocation at least a few inches higher (or to another wall).  

It's going to be a slow process - I'm not letting ANYTHING into that room unless I love it as much as that bed.  Which is a tall (and probably expensive) order, but I'm going to do my best to make sure everything else in that room is so perfect I feel like I can't breathe.

What's been your biggest splurge, or item you've pined for longest (this was definitely mine, on both counts!)?

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's the little things...switch cover switch

I always think it's the little details that make a house beautiful and interesting - things your eye registers, but not always the conscious part of your brain, that give just a little extra finishing touch.  Things like the outlet cover plates.

This weekend, I finally finished switching over the last of our builder-basic outlet/light switch covers for a little bit of fancy.

The regular sized plug covers are really easy - unscrew the existing plate, remove, and replace and screw in the new one.

Cable and phone jacks are a little more difficult, because the fancy plate makers don't make fancy plates for those.  And when they're right next to each other, it's hard to ignore how sad one looks next to the fancy new one.  So, you have to improvise a little.

I'll start with the cable jack.  

 You'll need:

  • A new plate cover - rectangle/rocker switch opening
  • A screwdriver with Phillips and Straight blade ends
  • An inset cable outlet 

Unscrew the existing plate from the wall.  It'll be directly attached to your cable wire.  Unscrew it.

Then, simply screw wire to the new plate inset.

My packet came with long and short screws.  You'll want to use the long ones to attach it to the box.  Throw the little ones away or hoard them - either way, you don't need them for this project.

Then, use the little pretty screws that come with the new plate to attach it to the insert.  These screws are a little bit bigger than the plate opening anticipated, but with a little bit of force, they go in just fine.

 Isn't that so much better?

Now, on to the phone jack (yes, we are dinosaurs who still have a landline).

You'll need the same supplies as above, just with a telephone inset instead of a cable one.

Same deal here - unscrew the plate from the wall, and all the wires/connectors will come with it.

Yellow is top left, Black is top right, Red is bottom left, Green is bottom right

My insert plate has colored screws, but my existing plate didn't.  So you'll have to look at the wires coming out of the middle to tell which goes where.

Here's your basic step-by-step
  • loosen all screws
  • disconnect one existing wire
  • wrap wire around matching colors screw
  • tighten screw
  • repeat until all wires reconnected

When all your wires are connected, use your long screws (again, toss or stash the little ones) to attach the insert to the box.

 Once it's attached, install the fancy plate with its fancy screws.  Remember that you'll have to give it a little oomph to seat the screws initially.

et viola - so fancy, so simple.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lights, Ceiling Paint, Action!

This weekend was all about getting around to those little projects I've been meaning to do forever - getting the UV film installed on the Kiddo's bedroom window, replacing his bookshelves with something larger, fixing the backyard gate latch, and finally dealing with the upstairs hallway ceiling situation.

You may recall, here's what we were working with before.

Step one is paint.  I just used the same paint as the walls so I didn't have to worry about taping or accidental bumping.  With the stairwell, this paint job was difficult enough, I didn't need to make it worse...  And, keeping it the same color has the added bonus of making the ceiling look 9 miles high.

I took down the sad boob light so I wouldn't have to worry about the new light's diameter being too small.  Of course, that meant I was painting in the dark.... so there were LOTS of missed spots.  Plan on 2 coats of paint, even when you're using the stuff that says it covers in 1 coat.

I really didn't want to have to take down the gallery wall or scrape little paint mist dots off everything, so this cheapy little roller cover was vital.  I was skeptical, but it worked GREAT.

After the ceiling had plenty of time to dry, I turned to Step two - lights.  The As-Is section at Ikea had a cute glass pendant and flush mount light for $10 each.  They came with no directions, but Ikea's iPhone App had them easily accessible.  I also picked up a recessed light conversion kit at Lowe's a few months ago in anticipation of this project.  These, some electrical tape, and wire nuts are all you need.  

They were an easy install - white to white, ground to ground, black to black for the flush mount light - easy as pie.  The conversion kit was not quite as easy as they promised, but careful reading of their directions made it all work out.  

Here's what they look like all lit up - much prettier than the boring boob light and forgettable recessed can.  

And here's a shot of how they look with the gallery stairwell, too.  

Finally, here's my ceiling's after look - so, so much better.