Thursday, April 16, 2015

Our $50 Bathroom Refresh

When we were apartment searching almost 2 years ago, I swear we looked at nearly every apartment in the area that fit out price range. After what felt like weeks and months of endless searching we finally settled on the apartment that we currently call our home sweet temporary home. Emphasis on temporary. When we toured the model floor plan of what would soon be our floor plan of choice, what I remember seeing ended up being very different than what we moved into. We toured a spacious, light, bright, and beautifully staged apartment model that hit most of the items on our checklist. It made choosing this complex and floor plan and easy decision after such a hard search.

The 2 things I remember most about that tour was all the beautiful natural light and the large master bathroom with dual sinks. The master bathroom was bigger than any we had was a long room with high ceilings and no doorways - think open concept. It was spacious and equipped with dual sinks - perfect for the 2 of us who would be utilizing this space at the same time every morning. Sadly though, what we moved into was quite the opposite. Our apartment windows are literally facing the exact opposite direction as those in the model apartment, making all that beautiful natural light that I remembered nearly non-existent. And the master bathroom? Bad. Real bad. Nowhere near the example of the model apartment. The trickery!

I remember moving in and grabbing a box to deposit in the master bathroom and stopping dead in my tracks. I swear we were given the wrong apartment. Our master bathroom is literally half in length of the model we had seen. A doorway separates the carpeted (gag) sink area from where the toilet and shower/tub are located and the door to the toilet/shower area opens inward and barely clears the toilet by about an inch...if that. The high ceilings are non-existent too. In fact, there's a huge bulkhead above our sink area making it feel cramped and dungeon-like...a far cry from the large master bathroom I was expecting to get. I almost cried. I was so confused that I called the leasing office and was informed that the model apartment we were shown had been retrofitted to be handicap accessible, thus meaning that all 1st floor, handicap accessible apartments had higher ceilings, wider doorways, or no doorways at all, making our 2nd floor apartment master bathroom layout entirely different, considerably smaller...and here's the kicker...being that we were on the 2nd floor, our ceilings, particularly in the bathrooms and hallways were indeed considerably lower that those of the apartments on the 1st and 3rd floors. Ugh.

Here's what I've been working with over the last year:
Not good, not bad. But knowing what I saw in the beginning, the bathroom situation could be way better. Especially if I lived on the 1st or 3rd floor. But I digress.

Unfortunately, being in a rental, there isn't anything you can do structurally. Recently, not having a place of our own that's ours has been weighing heavily on me. It's hard living in a space that isn't yours, your taste, your style, or one you can freely make changes to without the fear of paying for them later. But...this bathroom has bothered me so much over the last year, that I couldn't let that derail me. Even though I cant build the bathroom that dreams are made of, I have to make do with what we have. Just because I hate our current bathroom situation, doesn't mean I can't pretty it up to make it just a tad bit more bearable in the meantime.
I've been wanting to "decorate" this bathroom for some time as a way to make it a little easier to deal with its shortcomings. Over the weekend, I did just that. It only took a few hours (most of that time was dry time) and it only cost me about $50. That's about all the time and $$ this cruddy bathroom deserves anyways. #kidding #sorta
Without a whole lot of bathroom are that could be addressed, or much that I could actually change, I figured that zhusing up the boring apartment standard mirror would bring the most visual impact and give me the most bang for my buck. I thought about making a simple frame for the large mirror but decided to take it a step further and do something a bit different. I'd been on the hunt for some over sized frames to bring this vision to life but...I'm el-cheapo here, so it took forever to find a pair of frames that matched, were light weight, had visual interest, and didn't cost 8 million dollars. I know! A lot of must haves to contend with.
After several weeks of searching, and nearly scrapping this idea all together...I received this picture from my Mom:
She found these gaudy gold, plastic, oval mirrors at the Swap Meet for $15 a piece. Minus the mirror part, they were perfect for the bathroom project I had in mind! Aren't Moms the best? Yes...they totally are! Love, ya Mom! (We'll see if she really reads my blog after all - ha ha)
With mirrors in hand, I removed the paper backing, the mirrors, and painted the frames white. Don't forget to paint the underside of the frames too. The underside of the frame will reflect against the mirror if it's not painted too. Once dried, I used every renters best friend, 3M Command Strips for picture hanging. I positioned the strips all around the frame, and then attached each frame to the large bathroom mirror making sure each frame was centered over each sink. I didn't bother trying to measure exact placement, I just eyeballed it.
Ah, instant upgrade!


The only other items I added were 2 new clear glass soap dispensers ($12) and 2 new white hand towels ($8). We had everything else already. I decided to go with an all white color scheme because the space was so dark to begin with that it just really needed something to lighten it up and when I think of all white bathrooms, I think of spas and who doesn't love spas? Now walking into this dungeon every morning puts a little pep in my step.
The apothecary jars are dual purpose and I just love them. They house every day essentials like Q-Tips, cotton balls, an bath salts that just so happen to match the all white, spa-like feeling I was going for. They're pretty to look at and the clear glass doesn't obstruct or take away from the overall space. I love using pretty vessels to house ordinary items.
I brought in a little blue and white bud vase that I found at the thrift store a while ago and popped in some pink flowers for a punch of color. I've never had flowers in the bathroom before, but now...I'm a fan! It's impossible to be grumpy and crabby in the morning when flowers are around!
The last little detail of this bathroom refresh is this oval wooden tray. It was a last minute addition that didn't get photographed during my first round of shots but I found it in my stash and thought it was the perfect size to corral my bobby pins (in a cute dish of course) or small jewelry such as earrings or bracelets. The wood adds a much needed warmth and texture to the space and really rounds it off beautifully.

Not bad for $50, eh? A few thrifty finds and shopping your house can go a long way to amp up any space. Not being able to change much else, I think this is exactly what our bathroom needed. I'm now wondering why I didn't do something sooner in here and scheming up ideas for our much larger guest bathroom. Adding frames, whether they're over sized, chunky picture frames or from a mirror to a boring apartment standard mirror is an easy and temporary way to update your apartment rental bathroom without having to pay for the damage later! Using the 3M Command Strips makes it easy to remove with no evidence that it was ever there. Love those things! My only suggestion is to find a frame with a semi-flat back so that the Command Strips have a flat surface to adhere to. Also, use caution when removing the frames. Don't get all Hercules on them. Slow and steady wind the race.
Down the line, I may change out these oval frames for something more...dare I say...gender neutral? The filigree frames did go a bit girly-glam real fast and being that my boyfriend uses this bathroom too, I ought to find some chunky, over sized, rectangular frames that would put this bathroom back in the neutral zone. But...he's a trooper and gives me free reign, so until then, I'm hating on this bathroom a little less these days :)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Upcycled Resin Coasters

Last summer my boyfriend and I took a quick weekend trip to Las Vegas and while we were there we stayed at the newly renovated SLS Hotel which was once the Sahara Hotel many years ago. When we went last summer the hotel had only been open for a few weeks and while it wasn't on the main stretch of Las Vegas Blvd among all the hub-bub, or an uber fancy hotel at that, for the price, we weren't opposed to staying somewhere new and decided to give it a shot.

For those of you that don't know, because I certainly didn't, the SLS is a boutique style hotel with hotels in any major cities around the country such as Beverly Hills and Miami, and as of last summer, Las Vegas. What I didn't know about the hotel brand, but thoroughly enjoyed, is that their mascot is a super cute monkey. All throughout the hotel room they had notepads, laundry bags, pens, all adorned with their monkey mascot. How very cute and chic all at the same time.

All weekend long I snapped pictures of the hotel décor (all bloggers do this right?), the chandeliers, the bathrooms, the monkey paraphernalia, and by the end of the short stay, I had fallen hard for this monkey. Weird, I know. He was totally cute (and he's totally a he), while still being very chic and gave off that Hollywood Regency vibe which I totally love. As we were packing up and as our weekend was ending, I desperately wanted to bring a little piece of the SLS back home so I gathered up all the free monkey emblazoned notepads, pens, and laundry bags. Yes. Yes, I totally did. #dontjudge

My boyfriend...the man I love so much because he doesn't even bat an eye as I'm greedily shoveling all the monkey trinkets into my bag, points at the mini bar and says "you forgot the coasters". Coasters!!! Holy jackpot Batman! I snatched those up in a hot second and man...I'm sure I did! They're the shining star of today's totally rad DIY that I schemed up.

Since our trip to the SLS last summer I've been hoarding these coasters like they were gold just waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them some way, somehow. I refrained from using them right away because I knew that with them being made out of the same material as your standard cheap-o bar coasters, they'd be ruined and water stained in no time. If I wanted to keep them intact, I'd have to brainstorm up a more permanent solution.

My ah-ha moment came after perusing the aisles of Home Depot. I've always been fascinated with resin for its clear yet solid finish but have always been a little hesitant to give it a try. Until now! I knew that using resin to seal, protect, while still being able to enjoy the adorable monkey figure on the coasters was the perfect permanent solution I was looking for. I picked up some resin (this kit actually) and gathered the rest of my supplies. Luckily I had everything else I needed on hand so the upfront cost was minimal.

Here are all the supplies I used to complete this project:

I decided that the monkey coasters needed some additional backing...mainly to beef it up so that the painters tape had something more to adhere to. My original thought was to back them with cork, and I still might do that, but I couldn't find any plain cork coasters that didn't cost an outrageous amount of money ('s only cork people!) and I was too impatient to order something online and wait for it to arrive. #patience is not a virtue
My solution came during my recent coffee table organizational effort. I found these old Halloween themed cardboard coasters which were water stained and instead of tossing them, I knew I could use them to beef up my cutie monkey coasters.

To adhere the Halloween coasters to the monkey coasters, I used Aleen's tacky spray glue and sprayed a good amount on the Halloween design (the backside is just plain white) then just placed the monkey coaster, monkey side up, right on top of the glue and allowed the glue to take hold.

After the glue had taken hold, I wrapped each coaster with blue painters tape. I did wrap the coasters in such a way that there was an overhang of tape on the bottom of the coaster that I then folded down. The painters tape will act as a barrier for the resin and allow the same to take form.

Next, I mixed up a batch of resin according to the directions on the box. All kits may vary so follow the directions on the kit you have before moving on to the next step.

With the resin mixed, I placed all my coasters on a cookie sheet in case there was any leakage and poured the resin into each form. I did my best to make sure each coaster was the same thickness but it was hard to be accurate so I just eyeballed it. While I poured the resin a few air bubbles formed at the top of the surface but the directions in the kit suggested blowing lightly on the surface to eliminate the bubbles.

Once the resin was poured the hardest part was waiting the full 24 hour cure time before I could see how they turned out!
After waiting the allotted cure time, they were almost done! To finish them off, I took a fine grit sand paper and lightly sanded the edges to get rid of the inconsistencies of height from my pour.
Ready to see how they turned out?

The resin changed the color of the coaster over all from a creamy white to an almost coffee stained brown but I don't mind. I love it so much more! We keep the coasters in this ceramic jar that sits on our coffee table. Perfect for easy access!

So we've determined that they look good, but do they work good?

They do! As the glass sweats, the coaster collects the water instead of it spilling over onto the table. I'm so happy with this little DIY and so glad I snagged those free coasters from the mini bar!

Isn't my little monkey friend the cutest?

Pretty simple right? Now....what else can I use resin for?! Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pom Pom Trimmed Curtains

For me, when it comes to decorating, a room is never done...done as in I'm madly in love with every little thang and I've checked everything off the decorating to-do list. Often times when working on a room, I finish a DIY, bring in new accessories or rearrange some existing ones and suddenly a whole new slew of ideas flood my brain and before I know it, I'm ready to re-design the whole room all over again. That's where I'm currently at with the master bedroom. It's a problem, I know. I just can't help myself! It's a good and bad problem to have. At times it's hard to quiet the voices in my head and ignore the urge to re-do what has already been done. Ugh! The life of an over-active creative mind.
That's why I'm here explain. You see...the voices won out. Remember these? My beloved DIY curtains that I slaved over for 6 hours? 
Gone. Dunzo. My decorating ADD struck again and I just had to change them. The result? These beauties:
Another DIY / Ikea / gros-grain ribbon collab, but I think they work much better in this space. The Greek Key curtains were a labor of love and for the money spent, were truly beautiful...but after slaving away for 6 hours to produce these bad boys and living with them for a few weeks, I had one of those it's me, not you conversations with the curtains and ultimately took them down. The problem? Our bedroom windows are just too small to really showcase the Greek Key detailing I worked so hard to make. These curtains would've looked stellar on a larger window, where they wouldn't be scrunched up in a corner or half covered up by a longer dresser thus loosing all the gorgeousness of the Greek Key detailing. As much as I loved them, they really do require a bigger window to shine and in this apartment, we just don't have that. So for now, they're nicely folded and tucked away and I quickly moved onto plan B.
Plan B curtains follow most of the same steps as the ones I outlined in this previous post. Once again, I used the Vivan curtain panels in white from Ikea and let me just say...I don't know if Ikea is planning to discontinue these or if everyone is suddenly DIY-ing curtains using these but in the land of Ikea where all things are plentiful, these were not. Picture me...overly excited about this awesome curtain DIY that I cant wait to tackle, beelining it through Ikea towards all the flowing white drapery, only to discover that my bargain white curtains were NO. WHERE. TO. BE. FOUND!
How can this be? These curtains are an Ikea staple! I made several more passes through the white curtain section only to frantically realize that nope, my eyes hadn't fooled me. The curtains were gone. I immediately tried to rethink my DIY but knew none of the other options would come close to the price point that the Vivan curtains did. Stupid me. Stupid brain for hating on the old curtains. Ugh. I had to have these curtains. I tried tracking down an Ikea employee in a desperate attempt to unearth the curtains that I just knew had to be in the store somewhere but finding an Ikea employee is like looking for water in the desert so I did the next best thing...pulled out my phone in hopes I could just order the drapes online. While I was online, I checked stock for the store I was in just out of curiosity and saw that they had 6 packs on hand. Just 6! Armed with the info that they had 6 somewhere in that colossal store, I began rifling through the displays and bins until behold...I found 3 packages. I only needed 2 but after the whole ordeal, I bought all 3 and went on my merry way.
After I got home with my loot I re-measured from the top of the curtain rod all the way down to the floor (90"), added 1" for seam allowance, added 1" to account for the space at the very top of my curtain to where the rod rest in the rod pocket, and cut my curtains to length (92") for an overall finished length of 91".
Using my very best friend, Heat N Bond Hem Tape, I cut a piece of hem tape the width of my raw edge, laid the hem tape paper side up along the raw edge and ran the iron over the entire length of the tape along the raw edge.
Once the tape has cooled down, remove the paper backing and discard.
Fold the raw edge upwards and once again using the iron, pass over the entire length of the fold. Allow the ironed fold to cool and the glue to take hold.
With the curtains now hemmed, it's time to add the embellishments!
When deciding what embellishments to add to the curtains, I knew from the last go around that anything horizontal wouldn't read well and we'd be right back to square one. After tossing a few ideas around, I finally decided on pom pom and gros-grain ribbon trim on the inner vertical edge for 2 reasons. Reason 1 - vertical embellishments would read well on our small windows and also help elongate the room by drawing the eye upwards (similar to this trick I mentioned here) and Reason 2 - I already had everything on hand minus the extra money spent sounds like a win-win situation.
I originally purchased 10 yards of white pom pom trim from Amazon for the little one's bedroom curtains but after adding the tissue paper tassels, I thought the trim might be a tad overkill. I also scored a killer deal on black gros-grain ribbon when I made my first set of curtains and had plenty (still do) left over so it worked out perfectly.
With the hemmed curtains now ready, I needed to make sure I was embellishing the correct edges, so I identified the inner edge of each panel with a safety pin. Last thing I needed was to embellish 3 inner edges and 1 outer. That wouldn't have been fun. I wasn't quite sure how I was going to attach the pom pom trim at first but ended up hot gluing it to the backside of each inner edge. Worked like a charm. If you're handy with a sewing machine, I'm sure sewing it on would be just as easy but sewing is my Mom's thing so I opted for the quick and easy route. So far, I've had no issues with the hot glue holding up.
Next, I cut a length of ribbon and hem tape to match. The length of your ribbon should match the finished length of your hemmed curtain panel but I always add a little extra in case of error and because I wanted to wrap the ribbon around to the backside of the panel for a cleaner look. My finished curtain panels were 91" so I cut my ribbon and hem tape at 95". I adhered the hem tape to the ribbon the same way I adhered the tape to the raw edge of my panel.
Now...with your panel right side up, lay the ribbon, shiny side down, directly along the inner edge of your panel making sure to position your ribbon so that you have a tail at the top and bottom and run your iron along the entire length of the ribbon securing it to the edge. Allow to cool and for the glue to take hold before you flip your panel over and iron down the tails at the top and bottom. Repeat for all your remaining panels.
Next step? Hang up your curtains, stand back and admire your handiwork! Maybe do a little happy dance too...I sure did!
What do you think? Easy enough? I think so! I finished all 4 panels in about an hour and a half! Way faster than the 6 hours I spent on the first ones. Can't beat that!

I think these work so much better for this space while still giving the windows some needed pop. Now with these curtains finished I'm turning my focus to the 3rd, yes 3rd window in this room. We actually have a door/window that leads out onto out patio to the right of the of the dresser here which also needs some sort of window covering. I'm thinking a roman shade would work out great so hopefully I can brainstorm a design that will not only work, but match the new pom pom curtains! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Pillow Talk

Hi again! Did you miss me? Sorry for the brief hiatus but I had to step away from the blog for a few days while I recovered from having my wisdom teeth removed and didn't think it best to write any posts while recovering from that not-so-fun experience. But...I'm back and all is well again! I was in the best of care and certainly can't complain about all the ice cream I got to eat without all the usual guilt!
Today I'm back and talking about my most favorite home accessory - throw pillows! Yep, you read that right...plain ol' boring pillows. No. Not true my friends. Throw pillows aren't plain or boring! They're utterly amazing. They're fluffy little squares of magic. I truly believe that pillows (and paint too) can do wonders to transform a room that only requires a very small investment of your time and/or money. Pillow are relatively inexpensive and for just a small investment, by changing out your throw pillows, you can change the entire look and feel of a room in a matter of seconds. Who doesn't love that?!
Whenever I'm in a decorating slump or look around me find that I'm starting to feel 'blah' about a space, the first thing I do is switch out the pillows. Doing this instantly brings life and a fresh vibe to a once stagnate room. I recently ordered some new pillows for the living room after finding that I was craving a change and a wanted to bring in some new colors so while I wait for them to arrive (and before I can show you), I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite pillows from the www that I'm crushing on at the moment & some I already own, because you know...I'm a pillow hoarder like that!
Take a look:
This bold black & white graphic Stockholm pillow comes from Ikea...insert and all for only $14.99 (currently on sale for $11.99 if you're an Ikea Family Member). You may recognize this pillow from my living room and I love-love-love it. Even with the new pillows coming in, I doubt these will be going anywhere any time soon! 
This Aztec inspired Lappijung Ruta lumbar pillow also from Ikea is a steal for just $10. $10 people! During my recent Ikea trip I picked up 2 of these for a space I'm currently re-working and I had to seriously stop myself from not buying more. The quality is fabulous for only $10. You won't regret buying these. 
This adorable pom pom pillow from H&M is just begging to come home with me & at only $17.95, what's not to love? 
H&M is killing it again in the pillow department! Case in point? This 2-toned metallic pillow. I'm also really digging this copper metallic pillow too. H&M...I love you.
 Etsy is another great go-to source for unique pillows in gorgeous designer fabrics and this shop has the most beautiful pillows ever. This watercolor abstract pillow is perfect for Spring!
 Another stunning pillow that I'm drooling over!
So? What do you think? Do you love these as much as I do? What pillows are you crushing on right now? Share with me your favorites so I can drool over them with you too! I cant wait to show you what pillows I chose to breathe some new life into our living room. Warning: they're stunning!