Monday, October 25, 2010

My first foray into DIY

I got started on this whole "makeover my home and everything I own" thing shortly after Sam, Owen (that's the cat), and I moved to our apartment on Beacon St. For anyone who knows me, it might have seemed like a somewhat surprising turn of events (I was surprised at least) - I don't consider myself a particularly creative person (if you were a fly on the wall in my office, you might have heard me telling people "I like the accounting part of my work, I feel like I get to be creative in thinking about how to most accurately present our financial statements" joke), and I'm more of a "sit at a desk" than a "work with my hands" type.

But, for whatever reason, I started reading the New York Times Home & Garden section a few months back, which quickly transitioned to incorporating a handful of home design blogs in my daily "must reads." Soon I was hankering to make my apartment as beautiful as the ones I was reading about, while at the same time reminding myself that this is just a temporary home and whims like "I want to make the pantry bigger!" could not be fulfilled.

So I decided to focus on the things that I'd be able to take with me, namely furniture, decor, etc. I realized, though, that the whole thing could quickly go down a consumer path - it's definitely a lot faster and easier to make your home beautiful if you just fill it with a bunch of gorgeous things you purchased. Somehow that didn't seem like the smartest or most fulfilling approach, particularly because a) I really need to be practicing some fiscal responsibility at this stage of my life, and b) our apartment is full of many items given to us by family to help us get started out in the real world, and I wanted to work with and around that not just buy a bunch of replacement stuff that looked nice but had no personal meaning.

Anyhoo, enough about my inner motivations. The first thing I decided to tackle was a small jewelry armoire that my Grandma T gave me like 15 years ago. Our bedroom is full of dark wood furniture, including two dressers that belonged to my grandfather (so those for sure are not getting "lightened"!) and an armoire belonging to our landlord that I didn't feel like putting any energy into. So the jewelry armoire was the guinea pig.

So dark.

But so functional

And such a lovely green velvet interior :)

I cleared it out, and removed the drawers and legs. Every how-to I read stressed the importance of sanding the piece first, but the laminate finish was having none of that. So instead I relied on some super bonding primer, before 2-3 coats of white paint. I used high gloss spray paint on the hinges and hooks, plus bought new knobs. Then I wiped on a few coats of Minwax wipe-on poly to protect the finish. During the priming phase, Sam suggested that baking might be a better new hobby...the apartment would certainly smell a lot better. But I think he's come around.

Ahhhhhh, so much better. I also painted the interior a light green, and lined the drawers with a patterned green contact paper. It took me a loooooong time since a few of the drawers have 20 individual compartments that I was molding the contact paper around, but it was so worth it.

Aaaaaand, I was hooked. Just a little paint and elbow grease, and I'd created something that made me smile every night when I tucked in. No question I'd be doing more of this....

A few weeks later, I DIYed a jewelry bust out of foam core and an oval-shaped painter's canvass (the foam core is the bust, the canvass is the base). I also repurposed an old bulletin board into an earring/jewelry rack by painting the frame white, stapling some decorative paper to the front, layering mesh wire over it (cutting myself pretty badly in the process of trimming that...ouch), and attaching a few hooks for necklaces. Lastly, I took some mismatched frames with a few of my favorite family and friends photos and painted them all with a metallic champagne acrylic paint. Voila, a little jewelry station in our bedroom!

[Update: all this has since been rearranged in the Great Bedroom Makeover of Dec 2011/Jan 2012 - post and photos to come once I put the final touches on it and snap some photos...]