Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I Painted My Dining Room Black...

It was a fairly bold move, but I had a feeling...and now I'm positive it was the right move.  I went with Sherwin William's 'Black Magic' in a flat base.

It's safe to say I'm in love.  My only worry was that it would make the room look smaller than it already is, even with all the natural light that pours in from the triple windows.  On the contrary, it actually seems bigger now!  :D

SO I probably took way more pictures than necessary, but I'm entirely happy with this room right now.  Feast your eyes.

This is the current view from the kitchen, but I can assure you that dreadful blue in the living room is the next thing to go.  That was a panic choice and, to be honest, I disliked it from the moment I finished painting it on.  :/

I LOVE how the new black walls make my china cabinet stand out like the beauty that it is.

These velvety mustard pillows really add the ambience that Claudio's dining spot was lacking, right?  They were scored for $2 while garage sale-ing it up during Shepherd's Maple Syrup Festival.  Prime time, baby.  I got so many wonderful and cheap (wonderfully cheap) goodies for my house.

I must say, things are not looking too far off from my original mood board.  I call that success.

While my blog actually has my attention I must make an announcement of sorts.  I've had some life altering stuff going on lately and needless to say, my focus has been on anything but this blog and house dealings.

I thank everyone who wastes their time coming to check out my blabberings!  You clearly have nothing better to do and for that I am grateful.  ;)

Seriously though, that's awesome that you give me the time of day and I appreciate it.  My posts will be infrequent and not very wordy from here on out, but I will be here!

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Complete World House Domination

Not only am I a total control freak, but I also try to take the eco-friendly route when possible.  That's me, folks; savin' the world while settin' the mood.

I've been wanting to tackle a little electrical project ever since refurbishing my chandelier.  Having the bulbs right out there can make for some harsh lighting at times.  I love a good dimmable light. 

Here's what my switch plate situation used to look like:

(Please ignore finger smudges galore.)

The switch on the left controls the kitchen lights.  I wanted to keep this switch the same, but swap out the dining room one on the right for a dimmable option.

Enter Lutron Eco-Dim:

I picked this switch up at Home Depot for about $15.  There were many options so I'll tell you why I went with this one.

  1. I want all of the switches in my house to match.  It would be kinda weird if there was just one that didn't fit in with the rest; and all of them are toggles.
  2. If not for reason number 1, I still have the kitchen light switch to think about.  If I went for a different look for one, I would have to change both.
  3. Then there would be the whole buying a new switch plate deal.
  4. It was cheaper than a lot of the other looks.  ...And I'm cheap.
As you can see on the package, this one can be used with both a single pole or 3-way.  My chandelier is a single pole because it only has one light switch.  If it had two switches (sometimes a light has a switch at both ends of a room) it would be a 3-way.  This is something you'll want to keep in mind when shopping for a dimmer because not all of them work with both kinds.

Another thing that you'll want to figure out before purchasing is whether or not you have the right kind of light bulbs.  The bulbs I already had were energy efficient, but these do not work on a dimmer.

This is one of the old bulbs:

They do make dimmable energy efficient bulbs so pay attention to your packaging and be sure you're getting the right ones.

These are what I got to replace my old bulbs:

They cost $45 for 6 bulbs, but it wasn't too painful considering the previous ones had come with the chandelier (which I paid $4 total for...BONUS) and the new bulbs included adapters that let them fit into any light that a regular size bulb would.  So I can screw those onto the old bulbs and use them wherever!

Now I feel like I've done a lot of blabbing already, but first thing's first...


Please don't forget that very important step.  That would suck.  Go down to the breaker box and cut off the electricity to your switch, or you can do what I do and cut off the electricity to the whole house because you're extra paranoid.

Then I removed the filthy switch plate and the switch on the right side only.

I easily detached the wires by loosening the screws that hold them down to the sides of the switch.

After that I simply reattached them to the new dimmer switch in the same spots and tightened the screws to hold the wires in place.  Here mine are in the pictures below.  The green screw on the top is for the copper ground wire.

I shoved the switch back into the wall and secured it with the top and bottom screws.  Then I headed down to the basement to flip the power back on.  I wanted to test my handiwork before I had it completely put back together.

Put the switch plate back on and that's all there is to it!

How about a few action shots??

I've been wanting to be able to dim these lights down for SO LONG!  Now that I know how simple it is, I can't believe I didn't tackle this little project sooner.

Do you have any rooms that you'll be adding some mood lighting to?

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Taking a Break From Spring Cleaning

Spring is a wonderful time of year.  It's starting to warm back up (sloooowwwly but surely) and the cleaning fever is hitting me.  While partaking in the usual spring cleaning to-do's, I'm finding a ton of other little tasks that really should not be overlooked another day.

Meet my armoire.

In 2006 a house fire left my bedroom in a bit of a...crispy state.  Luckily no people or pets were harmed, but all of my possessions were lost.  For somebody that has been a thrifter and a hoarder since the day they were born, I must admit I was pretty devastated.

Thankfully this experience really put into perspective just how much emotional stock I should/should not have in my "things."  I still love all of my treasures, but they are not everything.

I rarely bought anything new therefore none of it could really be replaced, so when the insurance check arrived and it came time to re-stock I wasn't sure where to start.   One thing I knew was that I didn't want anything new.

I bought my armoire, along with the rest of my bedroom set, from a used furniture shop about 8 years ago and have been loving it ever since.  (You can take a peek at the rest of the set in this post.)  A beautiful piece that, like many antiques, has seen some sh*t.

It has moved to 4 different houses with me and taken quite a beating.  One of the doors has been broken off and re-attached, loose trim pieces wobble, and it's covered in water marks from a moving day gone wrong.

This side, pictured below, was the worst of it.  Look how blotchy it is!

In the midst of my spring cleaning, I decided it was high time I spruced this baby up.  I took some Restor-A-Finish and furniture wax to it and I'd say that the photos speak for themselves.

Here's that extra blotchy side after I was halfway through rubbing on the Restor-A-Finish:

The difference between the top and bottom half is pretty clear!  I love this stuff.  It brings such a richness back to the wood that, in this case, I didn't know was there in the first place.  And without any real work.  That's the best part!

Here are two photos of the same door right after wiping it down.

Once I had the wood restored to it's former beauty, those brass pulls were looking pretty awful.  Using a paste of a couple tablespoons of kosher salt and fresh lemon juice, I scrubbed those puppies clean too!

I let them sit in the mixture for a few minutes to loosen up the grime a bit and then scrubbed them with the course side of a kitchen sponge until they shone.

I couldn't believe what was hiding under all that grossness!

I'm so very happy that I finally took the time out to show my armoire some love, but also kind of kicking myself for not doing it years ago.

And I'll end with a flashback to ugly before I show you the stunning 'after' shot...

Seriously, what took me so long?!  I guess it's back to cleaning now, but I'd say that was a pretty productive "break."

Have you guys experienced the restorative powers of Restor-A-Finish??  I swear to you they aren't paying me...I just love the tiny miracles that this stuff works.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Royal Flush: The Story of an Upgraded Throne

This is one of those projects that I never really planned on, but just sort of fell into.  Let me re-phrase that.  Sometimes sh*t happens.  Er...

My toilet broke so I had to fix it.  And I am utterly powerless against obvious puns.

(I'm done now.)

It wouldn't flush!  Simple fix.  I lifted up the tank to discover that the chain attached to the handle was broken into two pieces, just as I expected.  So I got in my car and headed to Home Depot.  You're never going to see me complaining about making a trip to Home Depot.

I went straight to the plumbing aisle, quickly picked up the chain that I needed, and proceeded to meander around the rest of the store like I do.  I didn't get very far when I noticed this box...

I decided to take a chance on this kit that would forever change my toilet into a dual-flush, potentially saving me over $100 each year.  The box also boasts that this can be installed in 10 minutes and without tools...

We shall see!

Here's a peek inside at the existing inner-workings of our lovely throne.  I won't lie to you, there is no eye candy ahead.

I took everything out of the box.  Not a whole lot of parts to it and they even include a little troubleshooting guide (this came in handy.)  I followed the included instructions which were quite alright.

You adjust how much or how little water you want used with that green switch on the side and a blue one on the front.  Blue controls the amount of water used for a "Quick Flush" (number 1s) while green controls the water used for your full flush (number 2s.)

I didn't really do the water testing like the instructions tell you to.  I moved both switches to the most water-saving setting, tested it, it worked, I left it there.  That worked for me, but every potty is different so you might want to follow the manufacturer's instructions to make sure you get the most savings in water!

You can start out by shutting off your water and letting the tank drain out so that you aren't fishing around in cold toilet water.

Once your tank is clear, go ahead and remove the handle and flapper!

My handle was easily removed by simply unscrewing a plastic nut on the inside.  The little arms on the flapper part just snapped on and off.  Easy peasy.

Then I took the big cylindrical piece and twisted the "Upper Housing" until it unlocked from the "Base" so that I had two separate pieces.

I slid the base down over my overflow tube in the middle until the blue silicone bottom sat right inside of my flush valve.  It fit onto the overflow tube perfectly so I didn't need to tighten anything but if it hadn't, they include an extra piece ("Cam Adjuster") to fill the gap and a zip tie.

Slide the black rubber ring over the top to make sure that everything stays in place.

After that I could re-attach that upper housing to it's base by twisting and locking it back into place.

And last, but certainly not least, that cute little dual-flush button!  I just popped it into my old handle's place, got it positioned where I wanted it, and tightened it by hand.

Popped the white control box into place by holding down that blue button and inserting it onto the back of the flush button, then releasing.

There you have it.  Magic potty time and for way cheaper than buying a whole new one!  This kit only cost me $20 and it really was easy to install.  You might have to mess with the settings a bit to get it flushing just how you want it, but overall I say it's a great $20 well spent!  Especially if this contraption holds up it's end of the bargain and saves me $100+ on my water bill yearly.

Here's a shot of the new set-up inside the tank.

As you can see I still have a - no laughing - "ballcock style" fill valve.

Hey, I said no laughing...

If your toilet has one of these you may need to upgrade to a newer one or purchase their other kit for $5 more which includes one.  The dual-flush converter is big and could get in the way of this fill valve doing it's job.

I might do this for the downstairs bathroom and see how it goes.  I'll stick with my old fill valve for now since the converter actually isn't obstructing it.

Out with the old...

...In with the new!

Oh, the simple things...

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