Tuesday, August 31, 2010

No More Light Kits!

When we bought our house, every single room has a fan with a light kit.
Of course, Chris was thinking, how convenient...just flip the switch and the lights are on.
You see, I have been learning A LOT about decorating and design over the past year, and so I too thought it was convenient at first.
I knew our light kits were not very attractive (big white globes), but I thought we could just switch them out for a more appealing version.

So I started the hunt for more attractive light kits.  I searched high and low and came up empty handed.  Then I realized...I don't think there are any attractive light kits.  Light kits are just not very pretty.

My mom explained to me that fans are supposed to be inconspicuous.  You're not supposed to notice them.  They are just supposed to blend in with the ceiling.  Putting a light on them draws attention to them that you don't want.  

I was intimidated by the electrical work, so my temporary solution was that I pulled the cords on all the lights so that when you flip the switch only the fan comes on.  I did this so we would get in the habit of turning on lamps instead.  Then I removed the globes and the light bulbs, so that it looked like this...

and this...
Pretty huh?

During these few months of living with only lamp-light, I realized that what they say about overhead lighting is true!  It's not good (except canned lights, pendants, & chandeliers...not sure why).  I just feel so much better without it.  Bad overhead lighting makes you feel like your in a hospital, or a super wal-mart.  Something about lamps just give the room that ambiance...that really makes you feel good in your home.

But after a few months of looking at the globeless, bulbless light kits it was time for a real solution.  
I googled how to remove light kits.  I found some instructions, but nothing with pictures.  So I was still intimidated.  But Chris helped me, and we figured it out...It was super easy!

1.  Turn on your fan.
2.  Flip the switches in your fuse box, until one of them turns it off.  Leave it off.
3.  Unscrew the globe.  There will probably be about 2-3 screws.
4.  Remove the light bulb.
5.  Unscrew the casing that the light kit is attached to.  There will probably be more than one screw.
 6.  There will be a plug attaching the cords from the fan to the cords in the casing.  Unplug it.  

7.  Now, look for wires that say "light use" on them.  If they are not labeled, look for the wires that are obviously coming up through the hole that connects to the light kit.  Disconnect these wires by unscrewing the caps.  
8.  Recap the "light use" wires that are coming from the fan, but leave the ones that are coming up through the hole from the light kit bare.  
9.  Unscrew the light kit from the fan (which will pull the bare wires down through the hole).
10.  Replug the main cords from the casing to the fan.  
11.  Tuck all the cords in and screw the casing back onto the fan.  
12.  Go back to your fuse box and flip that switch back on.
13.  Voila!  Not so ugly fan, that nicely blends in with the ceiling...Just like Mama Taught Me!

***Beware though, we did discover we have a couple of fans in our house that have built-in lights that cannot be removed.  :(

Thanks for reading!
Onward!  You can do it too!  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Housework Blues

I dread dishes and laundry...and housework in general.

But I'll do a decor or DIY project any day...no matter how much hardwork and concentration it requires.

So, I'm starting a new rewards system.  I can't work on any decor projects if there are dishes or laundry to be done.

I just speedily finished the dishes and the laundry...so now I can sew some curtains for our kitchen!

Here's a cute blog post I stumbled upon by googling, "housework sucks".
It's called "7 Ways to Trick Yourself into Thinking Housework is Fun"

I particularly liked this little blurb...

If the sight of a perfectly ordered pantry or a carpet with freshly vacuumed swirls makes your body quiver with joy, you can probably stop reading right here. You have no need to fool yourself into doing housework because the shining, gleaming result of a clean home is, for you, reward enough.
But if you’re like the rest of us – and you don’t notice the mess around you until the doorbell rings and you have to navigate your way through socks and Legos to answer it – then read on.
How do you avoid the housework blues???
Do Tell.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Prison Break

Chris and I have become addicted to watching Prison Break (starting with Season 1).
I am especially into it.  I carry the sense of danger and suspense with me all day and constantly feel like I am in adventure.

Apparently BeiBei has gotten a few tips from Michael Scofield, and is also planning her escape...

She's so close to freedom she can taste it. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dining Room Revamp

I have been pretty unsatisfied with our dining room lately.  Which, probably has a lot to do with our chandelier, but I am going to take care of that later...hopefully soon.  But it also had something to do the furniture arrangement.  I made a few adjustments, and I'm much happier now.

 The back wall in this room is so large, and is such a focal point in the dining room, and from the living room.  Even though the hats are interesting, there was nothing strong and substantial on this wall.  Everything is little and choppy.  I think this is a common problem for us starter-outers, cause it's expensive to acquire large pieces of art.  

When I got this china cabinet, I knew it probably needed to be wear the other chest is.  I avoided making the switch because I didn't want to rehang my hats (it's a huge pain) and I wanted the hats to remain a focal point from the living room.  So I was sort of stuck about what to do with them.  So I just wedged the china cabinet in this corner here and lived with it for a while.  

Then when I hung these cafe curtains on this window, the space beneath the window looked so naked.  
I loved the way the window looked, but there were distracting elements on either side of it, and no real show piece beneath it.

I love this cross-stitch artwork, but it is so dark and brown, and so it wasn't really fitting with the colorfulness of the room.  

Now the china cabinet provides the substance that I need on the wall.  Covering the wall with hats provides more of the statement I need across the whole wall, instead of just a vignette over the sideboard.
I can't take this chandelier any longer.  I have an idea for a diy chandelier, but I've gotta find the right time to get Chris to help me.  I have to be careful, because he sometimes feels like a slave in my master plan.  
Okay, I know I've had the same center piece for almost a year.  I really need to do something different!  

I love this bird pictures.  They were my grandmothers and they are made with real feathers.  I had to keep them somewhere in the room, because the feathers tie in so well with the feathery hats.
I have to vent...don't you love how they centered the alarm system perfectly on the wall so that nothing pretty can ever be hung there?  That was definitely the work of a man.    

So I didn't have to sacrifice my hat wall, after all!  It just got bigger.  
This piece still needs a little styling.  
BT-dub, the picture on the right is of the original deFuniak/Kelley/McGill house in Birmingham...basically the home of my ancestors.  I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it's a really cool old house.  It used to sit where City Hall is now.  

 I love having this piece of furniture against this fabric.  I have seen antique sideboards where instead of having a mirror as a "backsplash" board, they have a piece of fabric.  I can't find a picture.  But this reminds me of that.  I also like having all the color of the curtains up against the colorless silver and crystal.  (In real life, the crystal doesn't disappear like it does in this picture.)

Since I really wanted my window to be the feature, I was excited when I remembered I had this sconces in the attic from college.  I have always loved these sconces, but I haven't been able to figure out the right place for them.  

A little antecdote about these sconces.  When we were buying wired sconces for our bathroom, Chris turned to me and said..."Wait a minute!  Don't you already have those sconces from college!?", thinking he was about to save some money and secretly so proud he knew what a sconce was.  I was like, "Yes sweetie... but they are candlelight.  This is 2009."  

So, here's the recap...


Thanks for reading.  

Friday, August 20, 2010

Big Girl Bed

BeiBei has been such a good dog, that we decided it was time for her to get a big-girl-bed!

The kennel is going to the attic.
I know we should be crate-training her all the way through the first year, at least.  I don't know what happened, we got off track somewhere along the way.  It was hard to do the kennel training fully because neither of us could come home to let her out midday.  But she's been doing great without her kennel...and she loves her new bed!

I got this bed at Garden Ridge.  I snatched it up, because it's the only one I've seen anywhere that's not hideous.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I LOVE hand-me-downs.

A good friend of mine was so sweet to hand me down a kilim rug she's not using anymore!

The rug used to be in her bathroom...and now makes its home in our living room!
As you might guess, her house is just a "little" bit bigger than ours!

Anyone else out there have rugs from their bathrooms they want to pass down to decorate the rest of my house with???  Doormats?  We could use your old placemats for our bathroom!

I'm very excited, because although our other rug was great, it didn't go with our colors as well as this one does.  It was also too big, so I had half of it stuffed underneath the couch.  My sister generously gave/loaned it to us, and it was great to have it!  But now, I'm glad to have a replacement for it so that she could use it in her house again!  (I think she's looking forward to being reunited with it!)



It's probably a touch too small, but it will certainly do!

In other news...
My Mom picked up this chair for us at a garage sale...
 And we're getting it recovered in this...
It should be fun!  It'll be ready in about two more weeks.  It will replace the ratty old white chair in the corner.  It is a little smaller, and I think it will fit better in that spot.  I can't wait!  
I got the little stool at Garden Ridge to go with the new chair.  I will probably slip-cover the stool in a mis-matched fabric.  Having a smaller ottoman is really opening up the space.  It is a little crowded in that corner!    

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not too Shabby Shutters (and Door)

I've been working on the exterior look of our house.
This post is the "how-to" part of last week's "Exterior Gratification" post.

In the past few weeks, the house has come from this:
To this:

Here's how I got there.

First I painted everything that was black to white.  
(door, shutters, railings and columns)

It was looking fresher already.
As I said my in "Exterior Gratification" post, I'm not crazy about the lavender grey paint color, but since we can't repaint quite yet, I am trying to do a few free fixes to make the whole picture work together a little bit better.  So I'm lightening up the rest of the house to give a lighter, shabby chic feel.  

I started with the shutters, because I figured if I ruined them...I could replace them.
First I painted them white...

B-T-dub, I could tell from the street that our shutters were not real wood...but I was shocked to see how cheapo they really are...
They are hollow plastic!  I certainly hope to replace these with real wood one day, but this project is all about $0.  

So, anyway...on with the step by step...

After painting them white, I made a mixture of half stain and half white paint.  

Since my paint is water based, and my stain is oil based...they dont mix.  But it still allowed me to grab a little of each with my brush when I dipped in.  It may have been better to have both water based, or both oil based.  But I was committed to using what I had on hand.

I started lightly brushing on the stain mixture.
I had a small brush, with loose (spaced apart) bristles.
Make sure all of your strokes are going with the wood grain (or in my case, faux wood grain).

I let the stain dry for a few minutes, then I went back and dry-brushed on some white paint.  "Dry brushing" means I didn't load my brush with paint.  I just barely dipped the tips of the bristles into the paint and VERY lightly brushed it on.  You want it to go on streaky, not saturated in any spot.  Again, brush with the grain of the wood.

I continued to alternate between stain and paint, until I had gotten the look I wanted.  The more layers of paint and stain you apply, the more authentic it will look.
They kinda look like real wood, don't they?

Much better, compared to this...

So then I had a little confidence to tackle my door.

First I painted it white...

Then I painted on the same stain & paint mixture with the same brush.
(stain with a little white paint mixed in)
This time, because our door is real wood and can take a little more abuse, I painted the stain on (in the direction of the grain) panel by panel.  I let it sit for about a minute, and then rubbed it in vertically with an old rag.   

Next, I brought in a little color, so that this door would have that "been painted 100 times" look.

First a little Aegean Teal, from our kitchen cabinets...

 Then some of the mysterious lavender house color...

So then it was looking a little watercolor-ish for my taste.  But it's okay, because I knew I wasn't done.

Next I went back over it all with more stain to dull it down...

But I thought it looked a little too chocolatey...

 So I went back with more white paint...

But then I had kind of lost my little hints of turquoise, so I added a little more turquoise...

 But then the door was too light, and blended in with the house too much...

So I added a little more stain...

And then hung the shutters...

And Voila!

Thanks for reading!  
Please try this at home.


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