Friday, April 13, 2012

My Parents' Home Makeover

Now that I'm all rested up, I can show you what John and I spent our 10 days in Williamsburg doing!

Actually, since I don't have any "before" pics (both to protect the innocent and because I kinda forgot), I'll just have to explain as we go.

First, we painted everything downstairs (except the kitchen), then the stairwell, the upstairs hall, and two bathrooms. We concentrated our design efforts on the downstairs.

The dining room wasn't the most dramatic transformation, but I think it's my favorite:

All we did here (besides paint) was change the drapes, de-clutter, remove everything from the walls, hang the clocks, and re-work everything in and on the curio cabinet.

Somehow that curio cabinet had about twice as much stuff crammed in there as it does now. I cleaned it all out (we donated at least 8 flower vases to the thrift store) so I could feature Mom's blue Delftware she collected in Holland. (My folks lived there for two years a while back.)

The running joke during our stay was that every morning John and I would get up to find Mom had changed or added to whatever we'd done the day before. This curio was no exception: she kept putting more stuff on top of it. (I'm not going to tell you how many things were on the living room mantle when we first arrived... but let's just say the poor thing was barely holding up.) (Love you, Mom!)

The living room was the largest and most time-consuming project. In fact, it's still not quite done, so please don't judge us too harshly:

This room used to be a deep TARDIS blue, because our first makeover was going for drama and colonial-style formality. It was awesome, and my folks loved it for many years, but the time had come to lighten up the dark room and make it a bit more casual.

Hey, look! I found a really bad 'before' photo on my camera just now:

Told ya it was TARDIS blue. And that's the back side of the green couch we replaced - plus a lot of furniture that got moved out to the garage to open up the space.

To begin, John installed frames on the wainscoting to simulate wood paneling. Because their walls are perfectly smooth, this worked perfectly - and the bright white made a huge difference.

In-process shot:
We used some leftover beige paint as a primer on the bottom, to cover the dark blue. After that it still took two more coats of white - but without it, it could have taken four or five. (Take it from a former pro: Plain white paint does *not* cover well.)

The new green is still growing on me, to be honest - even though technically I'm the one who picked it. I originally wanted a more muted, olive-ish tone, but Mom loves the brighter blue-greens. So together we came up with this.

The green makes most of their dark antiques pop beautifully - and really, most Victorian mansions had surprisingly bright colors on the walls - but it's hard to photograph accurately. I think that one above is pretty bang-on, but some of my other shots make it look more minty than it really is.

After the painting and paneling were done, the next challenge was furniture: both getting it and placing it. This has GOT to be the hardest room in the world to arrange around a TV, so it's become a family tradition that Mom moves the furniture around about twice a month. (Another running joke - but pretty accurate.)

The challenge is those two large doorway/pass-throughs, and a fireplace on the focal wall, which my folks don't want a TV over. (Too high.) After puzzling and measuring and moving everything half a dozen times, we finally came up with the arrangement it's in now.

The TV is on the left, between the windows. They still need an area rug and coffee table to fill the space, but we ran out of time before we could find the right ones. The good news is they won't buy anything without checking with us first. [Right, Mom & Dad? Right?]

Yes, there are two Lazy Boy recliners in the room. We had to work with what we were given, mkay? Hopefully they'll be replaced with leather club chairs sometime soon. [hint hint, guys. Hint hint.]

Those curtains presented another challenge: since we needed the longer length (95 inches), the cheapest panels we could find were over $30 each - and the only acceptable colors started at $50 each. Two hundred bucks for drapes? Aw, HECK no.

So, we purchased some 84-inch faux silk panels in a champagne color at Wal-Mart for about $12 each, and then one more panel by the same brand in a chocolate. John cut the chocolate panel into strips and attached them to the bottoms of the existing panels (harder than it sounds, believe me). After a day's work: Booya! John saved us $140! (And really, is ANYONE here surprised that John can sew? Anyone?)

The curtains have a beautiful shimmer to them, too, and look surprisingly nice with the green.

The TV used to sit on an open glass stand, low to the ground and with wires everywhere:

The new media cabinet is a rich dark wood with gleaming silver feet and hardware. If I lived closer, I would probably steal it. Just sayin'.

(It's on clearance at American Signature, btw, if you have one of those near you.)

The only other new furniture is the leather couch and the chair beside it, which replaced the green couch and an old wingback chair, respectively. The new stuff is more streamlined and modern, but not so much as to look at odds with all the antique clocks and tapestries.

Speaking of clocks, you might have gathered by now that my Dad collects them. Heh. There are eight in this room, three more in the dining room, and two or three in the hall.

Mercifully, he doesn't keep them all running at once. He alternates, so that only two chiming clocks are running at any given time.

Dad doesn't just collect antique clocks, though; he also repairs them. He buys or is given broken ones and works on them in his free time:

See why I knew he'd like steampunk?

(Btw, if you missed it, you can see my folks in their awesome steampunk outfits here.)

(Which reminds me: we're discussing building a light-up wooden cane for his costume next year.
And yes, I
do know that I have the coolest parents ever.)

When I mentioned to my folks how much I liked the clock hanging on the wall there, they seemed puzzled and told me, "That's just a movement without a case." So I guess someone only attached it to the wood plaque as a means to hang it - but I think it looks pretty amazing like that! Maybe I'll start looking for my own case-less clock movements now...

Getting back to the house, here's the entry hall:

Again, other than paint we just de-cluttered and re-worked everything hanging on the walls. It's so clean and spacious now.

That doorway you see at the bottom of the stairs is the guest bath, which we also made over:

We painted the walls a light beige, and then John fauxed them with metallic copper and umber glazes. (John and I used to be professional faux finishers, which is why I'm allowed to use "faux" as a verb. I know it sounds funny.)

I refinished the antique mirror to an aged copper, and primed and spray-painted the light fixture a deep bronze. Then we installed all new bronze fixtures, a wooden wall cabinet, and hung that gorgeous wall art that Mom & I found at Kirklands (only $39!). We ordered a bronze faucet for the sink, too, but it didn't arrive in time to install before we left.

When I refinished the mirror I also did a pair of matching wall sconces. Here's the pair before I glazed the second one, just to show you the technique I used:

Rest assured we didn't ruin anything valuable; these are plastic, and the mirror was a $20 find at an antique store.

And that's it! (I left out the other bathroom and the upstairs since they're not terribly interesting.) It's fun being able to show off our efforts - although next time I promise to take "before" photos, since I know that's half the fun of looking at the "after"s.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite shots from our last day in Virginia, which we spent at the zoo:


After this we all went home and watched Youtube videos of Fennec Foxes and red pandas until we collapsed from cuteness overload. :D (Pics of the red panda coming soon!)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

But I *Did* Paint My Toenails

I'm having one of those weeks where pretty much nothing gets done except a lot of sleeping and reading and watching White Collar (our latest TV show obsession.) None of this is particularly post-worthy, but sometimes when there's a lag here I get concerned e-mails wondering if I've grown tired of the blog or something more dire has occurred. So, rest assured, everything's fine; I've just been a little down since we got back from VA on Monday, and needed a little down time.

I finished up the Hunger Games trilogy (and am impatiently waiting for John to read the 3rd book so I can gripe about it in more detail), worked on my Portal Lemons cross stitch, and played more games of Sudoku on my iPhone than I can count - all with my cat Lily curled up on my lap. (Obviously I've been leaning on John to carry CW a lot more than usual, too. Luckily he's been knocking posts out of the park with his infomercial parodies.)

So, all in all, it's been the perfect therapy week. I think I may even be ready to tackle my e-mail inboxes now! (Or....not.) And while you're waiting for me to get back into the swing of things here, you can always check out the stuff I've been pinning or all the goodies your fellow Epbot readers are sharing on the Epbot FB page, since those are good therapy anytime.

(Oh, and have you seen The Guild's latest music video? People are calling it the new Geek Anthem. Check it out if you haven't already!)