Friday, July 30, 2010

Robots in Disguise

If you are not a Chicagoan or a suburbian of Chicago, you may not know that over the past month Transformers 3 has been filming in our lovely downtown metro landscape. Going to work is exciting every day because you never know if you should be running away when you hear gun shots, ducking when a helicopter zooms overhead, or calling for help when you see someone jumping from a building, and because of my office location, we have one of the best seats in the house to view the action. Here are some photos of what we have become accustomed to seeing the past few weeks. Nothing phases us anymore!

The leading actor, Shia LaBeouf.

This sign is for all the oblivious tourists milling about.

The view from the conference room in my office.

Rubble (a.k.a. painted styrofoam) in front of the Tribune Building.

View from the Trump Tower across the river. I spy an upside down ambulance, do you?

Life-size destruction.

This poor boat, if only it knew what it had coming.

A lot of people have been taping the commotion and posting videos on YouTube. I like this video from someone who works in another building in this war zone. Note the caption: "How am I supposed to get work done while decepticons are attacking?"

Happy Friday everyone!

Thanks to my coworkers for letting me use some of their photos.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Magic Fabric Take 2

When we stumbled upon Ikea's selection of fabric during a past project, I not only fell in love with the Majken green pattern we selected for our grand entrance transformation, I also swooned over the other styles and color options. Not surprisingly I already have plans up my sleeve to use a few more of these fabrics (Kajsastian and Sofia), but before I kick off those projects, I targeted our family room windows for a quick, easy, and inexpensive update.

After we moved into our house (almost 3 years ago, eek!), the first rooms to receive some decor-attention were our family room and half-bath on our first floor, which recently got striped. And when I say "some" attention, I mean our goals were simply to paint and furnish. So when you take a look at the below pictures of the curtains in our family room, in my defense, they were a first-time-homeowner's attempt at quickly decorating our space and served us well for the first couple years.

But let's not dwell on the past because as I say, tastes and trends change with time, and today I'm sharing with you our new and (greatly) improved family room window treatments.

Not only did I swap out the valances for panels, Justin raised the curtain rods about 10 inches so they sit just a few inches below the ceiling. By hanging our panels high, it accentuates our ceiling height and makes our windows appear larger, and pushing the panels to the farthest edges of the window allows tons of light to stream in. In fact, the majority of the fabric isn't in front of the window but covers the wall and window frame, also making the windows look larger.

The fabric I used to make these panels was Ikea's Majken in white, grey, and orange. When we hung the green version of this fabric in our front entry way, I promised myself I would use it again, so when I was wandering around Ikea a few weeks ago, I picked up 12 yards of the orange pattern and got busy at home.

For this project I didn't pull out my sewing machine, but rather heated up my iron and used some magic called Stitch Witchery. Stitch Witchery is polymide fusible web that permanently bonds two layers of fabric together and is washable and dry-cleanable. When used to hem edges, it stiffens the fabric a little bit, which makes it perfect for drapery. I have employed it many times in the past (here and here) and it hasn't failed me yet.

Aside from relieving our windows of vertical shortening and accentuating their size, the panels add another layer of pattern to the room, and the colors in the fabric are within our room's color palette but don't match perfectly. These textural and color variances create depth and dimension while amplifying visual interest, a must in any room!

On a final side note, the olive branch motif in the pattern piggybacks on our tribute to our honeymoon in Italy, which I also highlighted by framing and hanging photographs I took while visiting the homeland.

So, what do you think? Are you loving the panels as much as we are?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Good luck guys!

In the past two weeks, my place of employment has lost two talented designers and friends to us all in the office. While we still mourn their departures, I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we are really excited for their upcoming adventures. One is moving to Kansas City to continue his career in higher education and the other is moving to San Francisco to get back to his roots—per se—at an architecture firm.

Not to sound too sappy or wistful, I just want to share this little design I created as a nod to their time in Chicago. Good luck guys!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

One Project Closer: Deck Day Giveaway

If you haven't entered One Project Closer's Deck Day giveaway, do it now before the party (and day) is over!

OPC has teamed up with Fiberon Decking to generously dole out a $100 Visa gift card.

The deadline to enter is National Enjoy Your Deck Day on July 24 (today!) so what are you waiting for? Do you have special plans to take advantage of this great celebration, like maybe spend some much needed time outside on your deck?

PS: Remember the last OPC giveaway I posted about? Let me give you a hint, I won it. You might as well enter this drawing and give me a run for my money!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A new kind of paneling

To finish off my recent redecorating binge of our master bedroom, I pulled another curtain change-up. However, this time, I didn't swap the panels with another room's; rather, I tackled another sewing project and let me tell you, this takes paneling to a whole new level.

But before I get ahead of myself, this upgrade was not sparked by my brilliance alone, as Justin and I were making a Saturday morning stop at good 'ol HD (Home Depot), I spotted these roman bamboo blinds on mega-clearance. ($12 a piece! How lucky could we get?)

After discussing where we might hang these beauts (and consulting the notebook that I carry everywhere with dimensions of practically everything in our house—no joke), we decided they would look perfect in our master bedroom. We both loved the way our living room window turned out with the dark cocoa colored bamboo blinds and light, airy silk curtains, so after work one day, I trudged back to the Discount Fabric Outlet in Chicago and bought 12 more yards of the antique silk fabric ($3 per yard!) to make four more panels.

Before you scroll down any further, let me remind you of the old window treatments. They weren't terrible (heck, we lived with them for almost 3 years), but there was a bit too much dark chocolate brown going on for my taste.

This is how our room looks now and I'm so much happier. The bamboo blinds are a tad lighter than our furniture and have a slight reddish hue, which complements our paint color wonderfully. They also add another textural element, which elevates the rooms aesthetics. The light colored curtains frame the blinds serenely and pull the color from our bedding to create a more cohesive palette.

For what it cost to make these updates, I think we gained more than we spent (about $70). And it reminded us that our tastes are ever changing, so don't be afraid to make some simple changes. It might be worth more than you think!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Paint Fairies Strike 4

I came down with the painting craze last weekend. You know you're infected with it when your 6'2" husband gets home and finds his 5'2"-wife teetering on a barstool trying to reach the ceiling corner so she doesn't have to wait until he gets home to help her and so she can say she did it all by herself. And only when a painting project is finished, in less than 12 hours (including a night of sleep), do you know she has survived it. To some, I may be considered the victim, but in fact, the victim this time was our second story hallway (see below).

For a while I have had the framed art and photos in place, but for some reason I never found the time or motivation to pick a color and paint. Then a few weeks ago, while perusing my local Home Depot, I found the perfect color in the oops bin and for $5, I was willing to take the risk and just go for it. In the end it was totally worth it.

I adore the sophisticated, soft, gray tone that welcomes you with a modern attitude. This space is so angular that when every bedroom door is open, funky shadows criss-cross each other creating artistic lighting. Not surprisingly, the paint color was a custom match, but if you want the same, bring in this information to Home Depot and they should be able to replicate it.
Base 1: GL6411
B: 2-OZ, 0-384th
C: 1-OZ, 304-384th
F: 0-OZ, 64-384th

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Sweetness

I finally caved last weekend and bought CB2's 10 degree coat tree, which I have been eying for at least the past year. I figured once I got home I would put it together immediately, but instead it has been sitting in its box sprawled across the middle of our family room. When I headed upstairs to bed last night, I nonchalantly called over my should to Justin, "if you get bored, you could always put the coat tree together!" and to my surprise, when I went downstairs this morning, not only was it assembled expertly, there was a really sweet note attached to it.

The funny part is that I know he had no idea what he was putting together until looking at the instructions (if he did that), so his comment about the "cool looking tree thingy" cracks me up. Isn't my husband the greatest?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cat Napping

Yes, I put those place mats on the kitchen table just for your sleeping pleasure.

No, no, go back to sleep, don't let this camera in your face disturb your restless slumber.

You are SO lucky you're cute.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Boats, Trains, and Automobiles

Today I'm letting you in on some interesting facts about my commuting life.
1) Our house is 50 miles from my office in downtown Chicago.
2) I commute at least 2 hours each way before and after work, pending all of my public transportation is running on time.
3) I use four modes of transportation during the day: car, bus, train, and boat

Most of you may jump to the assumption that I must hate my life because of my commute, but I actually don't, rather I enjoy the commute. I get time to myself and don't have to worry about traffic or other road-rage inducing factors.

Last week, the weather was so beautiful that I brought my camera to work with me so I could snap some photos of the great architecture along the banks of the Chicago River. Here are four of my favorites from my 15 minute boat ride that day. (You can see more if you click to read the whole post.)

These would be great printed and framed, similar to what I did with photos I took on our honeymoon in Italy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Undercover Box Spring

I didn't realize it until now, but I seem to be on a master bedroom re-decorating kick. The new bedding I bought not too long ago inspired the refreshed wall art hanging above the headboard, motivated today's post, and spirited another project I'm currently working on (stay tuned), not to mention several more ideas that I may try to tackle in the coming weeks. Nonetheless, today, I'm writing about our box spring, exciting eh?

I don't know about everybody else, but our box spring seems to be the tallest box spring ever. Now, don't get me wrong, it works great, providing support and stability, but I hate that it is visible above our bed frame. The second issue I have with it is that we have a king size mattress and the two twin box springs that reside under it are never lined up and to top it off, their quilted fabric cover reminds me of paper towels and worse, toilet paper.

So when I was making up our bed with its new duds, I couldn't help but to brainstorm how I could cover the little monsters.

Previously I had used a bed skirt, but I also hated it because it covered up our bed frame. I love the simple lines and wood tone of our bed, so away went the skirt. Then, while I was putting the sheets back on our bed, it hit me like a lightening bolt, a fitted sheet. The same as a skirt, but no dreadful overhang covering our wood frame and it would hold the two boxes together—eureka!

Thankfully, I didn't have to wait to try out my brilliant idea because I already had an extra fitted sheet in the same cream family as our other sheets (it was like it was meant to be).

After flipping our mattress on its side, I lined up the box springs and corralled them under the spare fitted sheet.

Then I flipped the mattress back on top, quickly made the bed, and voila, undercover box spring.

To the unaware (i.e. Justin's) eye, one would probably not notice the smooth lines of our single-looking box spring, but to me it makes all the difference.

The end result: no unaligned box springs peeking out and no frilly bed skirt covering the modern lines of our bed frame. Who else shares my sentiments towards box springs? Do you think they should be rightfully covered or left out to bare their quilted surfaces?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

French Paper Sample Room

When I come across a website that is a cool resource, fountain of inspiration, or fun tool, I like to share it with you; the only problem is that I find sites that fall into these categories nearly every day, therefore I only post the ones I truly love. I believe the one I'm featuring today deserves to be raved about, it is French Paper's sample room.

I have a soft spot for French paper, because I used it for my wedding invitations, but I must say that their site is awesome. The blog is run by French Paper Company, but it is about so much more than paper, it celebrates design that is printed on French paper. The sample room is a place where anyone who has used French paper in a project can submit a photo or samples to not only be featured in a blog post, but also entered into a monthly design contest to win an all-expense paid trip to Niles, Michigan, French Paper's headquarters (see the June winner here).

Aside from being a monthly-running contest, it is a tremendous source of inspiration. I could spend hours looking through their past posts (and have). Here are a few that immediately sparked my creativity.

Designer: Katie Kirk, Paper: Muscletone Pure White

Designer: Allan Peters, Paper: Speckletone Madero Beach

Designer: Jennifer Davis, Paper: Pop-tone Spearmint

I urge you to check it out, if not just to see some great design, but to stimulate your creativity.

See a few other posts about cool sites here, here, here, here, and here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Art Master

I started planning what to do with the wall art in our master bedroom immediately after remaking our bed with the new bedding I shared with you a few days ago.

The first time I decorated our bedroom, I purchased these square grid photo frames. I originally bought one not knowing exactly what photos I was going to put in it or where it was going to go, but almost instantly when I got home I thought it would look cool if I lined up three of them above our headboard. So, the next time I was at the store, I snagged two more and if you can believe it, they had just been put on clearance. (I know, I'm one of the luckiest girls alive.)

After having them hung up, my next dilemma was deciding what to put in those empty spaces. The combination of the slats in our headboard, footboard, and empty frames made my head spin, so I needed something fast. Seeing as that they were going above our bed, I wasn't too thrilled with framing pictures of our family and friends, and I didn't think filling them with photos of us would look any better. (The words shrine, stalker, and creepy joined the spinning in my head.) So, I created some quick and easy art on my computer. You can see in this picture what I designed to match our previous red bedding, basic color backgrounds with thin bars of complementary and contrasting colors.

Up until now, these had been my art of choice however, with the new color scheme and design direction, I had to change it up. I played around with designing thin stripes and mimicking the geometric embroidery and birds on the decorative pillows, but I had a hard time thinking of something I absolutely loved. So, I printed sheets of solid colors, cut them up, and designed something on the fly.

I used the top of our bed, which the colors were pulled from, to try out various compositions of the blocks until I was happy with the balance and then started popping them in.

The interesting thing about these frames is that inside each square frame a groove has been cut, which holds the edges of the photo, or in my case, the art.

When a 5x7" is placed in, it curves slightly, adding dimension, texture, and a sculptural quality to whatever is framed.

When I designed the red art, I chose to alternate between horizontal and vertical placement, creating a weaving look, but this time I wanted more simplicity, so I positioned them all horizontally, mirroring the tiny stripes in our comforter. I also think it looks like rippling water, which I love!

So, what do you think about our refreshed, and better yet, free art?

I would have to say the best part is that if I have an art epiphany a few weeks from now I can swap out the old for the new in a few short minutes. (Or if I change our bedding again, it will be just as simple.) Anybody else have an art piece you can rotate with your changing decor, seasons, days, weather, or mood?
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