What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Progress on the Master Bedroom Crocheted Blanket

Work continues on the master bedroom crocheted blanket.  I'm tempted to call it a bedspread as that is what it really will be given the finished size.  This blanket is a lot of work but it is coming together nicely.  I won't have it finished before the furniture arrives.  The way it is going, I will likely be working on it for a couple more weeks or more but that's ok.  When the blanket is finished, it will really offset the classic beauty of our new furniture!

master bedroom crochet now measuring 57 inches square
This picture was taken on Day 20 (Friday, April 26, 2013) of working on the blanket just after finishing the third band of small granny squares.  The blanket now measures 57 - inches square, a little over half of the planned 98 - inches for the finished blanket.  This is sized to fit our new bed with extra deep mattress.  The picture was taken on top of the queen sized bed that is being moved into the guest room.

I was rather excited as I took this picture.  The furniture was scheduled to arrive just after 4 PM that day.  I had stripped the room of everything except the bed, highboy dresser, antique trunk, sewing machine, the two wicker baskets and unused satellite tv box.   The bed had been completely stripped down with just the duvet in place for the photo shoot.

Next up, the make-over - both ups and downs...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Working on the Master Bedroom Accessories

Earlier this month I wrote about starting the master bedroom make-over.  The plans were to keep the sage green colour of the walls and work from that bringing in the rest of the colours for our home.  The colours are cool taupe, green, deep burgundy, white, black and grey with lots of wood tones to warm and tie the colours together.  We ordered new bedroom furniture that was expected to arrive three weeks from the purchase date but it hasn't yet.  The Mom & Pop furniture store we have dealt with for years told us yesterday that the furniture would be in tomorrow or Monday so they would call to arrange a time for delivery.  During this time, we did most of the prep work like move our triple dresser into the guest room as our kid who was going to take it and the high boy decided it was too big.  We worked on purging some of our clothes and I started shopping for accessories.

master bedroom quilt set, sheet set and yarn
I'm not the type to go out and buy all the accessories for a room at once.  Rather, I like to build on my ideas waiting to find just the right item to fulfill that idea.  The new king size bed frame is a storage sleigh bed.  I immediately decided that a homemade blanket would be ideal, bringing in a bit of old fashion country charm.  I bought 4 skeins of Red Heart Super Saver yarn - medium thyme, cornmeal, buff, aran - all colours found in the new master bedroom curtains.  I wanted a plain quilt for under the new blanket that would allow the blanket to become the focal point.  It was a fluke that I found a king size quilt set (quilt, two pillow shams) at a bargain price that would work perfectly.  A few days later I found a  six piece king size bed sheet set in taupe accented with an embroidery scroll design.  Finally, I found two clear raised coasters that I think are meant for pillar candles but will be used for our drink bottles on the night stands.

master bedroom king size pillows
About a week ago, we were at Sam's Club and my husband picked out a package of king size pillows for the new bed.  Serta is a good brand and the price was quite reasonable.  Pillows are one of those things that most people do not replace often enough.  I saw one recommendation that pillows should be replaced every 3 months but I think that could be extended if you put pillow protectors on the pillows.  I think we almost need to buy another set so we have one set for the shams and one set for sleeping.  We can still use some of our existing pillows as they are fairly new as well and not used for sleeping.  I'll take the pillows we were using for sleeping to the animal shelter as they are always looking for pillows, blankets and towels.

master bedroom nightstand lights
A few days ago I found bedside lamps.  They were mix and match in that the pieces were bought separately.  I chose a brush stainless steel finish for the lamp base which was a very easy way to introduce grey into the bedroom.  The A-line shape shades are a medium light taupe material with just a hint of sheen, accented with stitched scrolls imitating the scroll embroidery on the bedsheets.  I think they will look quite nice with the darker wood tone of the new furniture.

We aren't sure whether the sewing machine cabinet the lamps are temporarily sitting on will be staying in the master bedroom.  We may have to take out the antique trunk as well.  I'm hoping the trunk can stay as it would look quite nice with the new furniture.
master bedroom crochet blanket in progress
I actually saw a bedspread called a Wendy blanket after the designer.  I knew I just had to make it but only wanted to use four colours not the seventeen she had used.  I bought the pattern on Ravelry and talk about a disappointment!  The only part that could be considered a pattern was how to do the first four rows of a granny square, of which those instructions are widely available for free from numerous resources.  The rest was simply how she arranged the granny squares. There were no details for anything else other than number of small granny squares and number of plain granny rows between the squares.  I ended up doing several ripouts and some of them rather large ones.  The so called pattern was basically useless.  How she could justify charging someone for the instructions on how to work four rows of a granny square is beyond me!   So I am writing up a full pattern for the blanket as I work complete with the actual way I put my design together, including the method I used for that first granny row after the small granny squares.  The small granny squares are worked up to the last row then that row is created using the join as you go method to form the band of small granny squares.  

This is day 12 of working on the blanket and now that I am using my own methods, the work is progressing nicely as pictured.  The piece is on top of a queen size bed (60" x 80") to give a bit of perspective as to its size.  The piece is currently 46 inches square, a little over half of the size I want it to be to cover a king size bed 76" x 80".  I will be working the piece to at least 80" but perhaps a bit larger.  I'm currently working on the next band of small granny squares (a total of 44).  I found an online tool that helps with randomly generating the colour pattern.

My initial goal was to have the blanket completed by the time the furniture arrived.  Between the ripouts and other demands, progress has slowed somewhat.  The piece is getting increasingly cumbersome and heavy to work on. I know it won't be finished by the first of the week but it shouldn't take too long with any luck.  I'll post more on my blanket later.  I think the blanket will end up being a focal piece in the room.

Working a bit of navy blue and burgundy into the room is going to be a challenge.  I'm not sure how I will do it but I'm sure something will come to mind.  At least we are getting a bit closer to finishing the master bedroom makeover.  Once the furniture is set up, things will come together rather quickly!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Continuing With the Guestroom Make-over

When we bought this bi-level house in 2011, we immediately knew we would not be using the five bedrooms as bedrooms.  The three upper level bedrooms were destined to be master bedroom, guest room and home office.  The two lower level bedrooms were to be a walk in pantry and a dart room/den off the main games room.  The pantry is to the right of the den, across from the lower bathroom off the hallway leading from the games room to the outer walk-out.  We plan on putting a fouton in that room to double as addition guest sleeping space if needed.

We actually liked the various taupes in the house even if they did mix warm with cool tones.  Most of the taupes will be repainted in similar colours but in cool tones, letting the strong wood tones warm the rooms for a balanced feeling.  My colour choices for this house are deep burgundy, taupe, olive green, black and white.  I have to work in navy blue as well since our couch set is navy blue leather but that can be done through accent pieces.  Green is not difficult to work in given my love of plants.  Within these main colours there is a wide range of colours to work with so I'm not having too much of a problem starting to coordinate the rooms.  The upper bathroom floor tile is hunter green with greyish and light green marbling. 

new paint and curtains in guest room
The guestroom is at the end of the upper hallway with a north facing window.  The small wall with the framed needlepoint (windmill) done by my mother-in-law is the end wall of the closet in the master bedroom.  This forms a small, fairly useless entryway into the room.  The main room is 11' x 11' which isn't too bad of a size.  While the rest of the house was fairly neutral in various shades of taupe in most of the rooms, the upper bathroom was a horrid peach including the ceiling and the guestroom had obviously been a little girl's room.  The window wall and door wall were shocking pink.  The small wall and entrance were an almost neon blue and the far west wall by the chair was a neon yellowish green.  Running along the top corner where the chair is were coordinating circle stickers.  The bar light bulb was covered with a huge paper globe (likely a dollar store find) that had been decorated with drizzles of the shocking pink paint.  This room took two full coats of primer followed by two coats of paint just to cover those colours!  I used Beautihome semi-gloss colour ND044 which is the cool greyish blue, more grey colour of the marbling in the upper level bathroom floor.

As you can see, an air mattress  on a metal frame has taken the place of an actual bed in the guestroom for the past 18 months.  We were taking it down after each use to give the grandkids more room to play.  This worked well because we don't have a lot of overnight guests, mainly a couple of our kids with the grandkids who are still fairly small.  The guestroom is used primarily for the grandkids to play in with a ready bed if they want a nap which doesn't happen very often!  The air mattress is deflated for storage now so we can move our queen size bed into the guest room.  The air mattress will still serve as extra sleeping if needed, likely set up temporarily in the games room

There was no window treatment other than a curtain rod left in the guestroom.  I improvised with a cloth shower curtain until we found the Elsinor ring top panels at the fabric shop going out of business.  They are outdoor panels that are fade and water resistant.  They have a flowery print in black outline with red outline leaf accents on a creamy white background so they have three of my colours and match nicely with the room.  Clearly I need to add mini blinds behind them as well to block a bit more light when needed.

guestroom entrance and closet
This wall is at the end of the upper hallway with our bedroom door to the left and the home office sharing the wall on the other side.  There is a nice size but not over large closet that currently needs purging.  The dresser holds kids crafts in the top drawer and some of my yarn stash in the other four drawers.  The yarn drawers are stuffed!  There are a few projects on the go on top of the dresser.  The floor lamp needs to be worked into our home somewhere.  It along with two table lamps were custom made for us by a very dear friend shortly after we bought our second house.  The wood is covered with a special coating that gives the pieces an intense shine and depth.

I put two shelf units in the guestroom to house some of my book collection along with toys and books  for the grandkids.  There is enough floor space for them to play with the Lego bin but we will lose a bit of floor space with the larger bed.  I have the yarn ready to start the crocheted blanket for the bed to bring in a homey feel.  We are planning on upgrading the wood trim for the entire upper level which will change the look including the guestroom and home office closets.  The master bedroom trim has already been upgraded but even that may change. 

Within the next couple of weeks the guestroom will be closer to completion.  There aren't a lot of accessories to buy but I do need to find a light fixture and shade for the floor lamp.  We haven't decided on the bed placement yet but I have a couple of ideas including using the bookshelves to create a headboard.  I will likely buy a new quilt and pillow sham set as well.  Off to do a bit of shopping...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Starting Our Master Bedroom Make-over

This year, my husband and I will celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary.  During that time we have made seventeen moves, raised a larger family and owned our last six houses as well as buying a vacation home.  Our bedroom has traditionally always been the last room in the house to have anything done to it.  We were more concerned about kids' bedrooms and creating comfortable family living space than we were about turning our bedroom into a show room.  As long as our bedroom was clean and tidy, we were happy.  Occasionally, I would splurge on a matching set of bedsheets but quite frankly even matching sheets were not a high priority.

We bought our first bedroom furniture in 1979.  It consisted of a queen size mattress, box springs, headboard, triple dresser, highboy and one night stand.  The queen size mattress and box spring never made the trip out west with us.  Instead we bought a king size waterbed.  I can't remember if we left the headboard out west or not but somewhere in all the moves it went missing.  When we moved back to Ontario, we bought a queen size waterbed that we had up until about 5 years ago.   The mattress sprung a leak just after we got into bed to get a couple of hours of sleep before heading out in the wee hours of the morning for Las Vegas.  Needless to say, we got no sleep! Both waterbeds had wood shelves that sat on the waterbed frame to be used as small bedside tables.  They were large enough for a water bottle and a couple of small items but not large enough to have a small lamp.

We just bought a new king size mattress, a Vaughan-Basset sleigh bed with under bed storage, matching triple dresser with mirror and two night stands from our favourite Mom & Pop local furniture shop.  We have dealt with them for years!  Looking back we have bought dining room table set, kitchen bar set, HE washer & dryer, mattress & box springs, gas range, chest freezer, two dishwashers, a side-by-side refrigerator and now our new bedroom furniture from them so that says something about our loyalty in dealing with local folk who really have become friends over the years.  Unlike larger box furniture stores that have a fair amount of warehouse space, this small shop tends to have rather limited warehouse space.  We decided on what we wanted from the floor display then they ordered it in for us with an expected delivery date of 3 weeks from our purchase date.  The arrival date is quickly approaching!  They deliver and set up the furniture free of charge which is rather nice.   

master bedroom as seen from doorway
Our new house (built in 1994, purchased by us in 2011) is a large, five bedroom bi-level in a delightful established estate subdivision.  Of the five bedrooms, the master bedroom on the upper level is the only one being used as a regular bedroom.  The north facing smaller bedroom is being used as a guest room and the smaller west facing bedroom is now our home office.  The two lower level bedrooms are being used as a dart room/den and a pantry, respectively. 

The master bedroom is 15' x 12'3", with the north facing window on the north short wall and the head of the bed on the west long wall.  Out of camera range beside the sewing machine cabinet (lower left) there is a large floor to ceiling double bi-fold door closet (7'6"W x 8'H x 29" D). Unfortunately, the closet is stuffed so we need to do a bit of purging!  The room is painted an olive green (actually two tone) that we like so will be leaving it that colour only putting a new coat of paint to freshen the room. We have a queen size mattress and box springs on a frame that will be moving into the guestroom.  The two IKEA wicker chairs are going south to our vacation home.  We don't know whether the trunk will stay in our bedroom or not depending on how the new furniture fits.  The floor like the rest of the upper level is laminate with the exception of the kitchen that is marble tile and the bathroom that is ceramic tile. 

We knew immediately we wanted to keep the green.  A couple of weeks ago, we stopped at a fabric store that is going out of business.  They had drapery panels on sale for up to 70% off.  My husband spotted the Saratoga leaf design drapery panels and just had to have them because they reminded him of Florida.  These grommet panels are actually outdoor drapery that is fade and water resistant as well as anti mildew.  They match the room perfectly except we have to move the rod down so the panels just clear the floor.  Well, he liked that pattern so much after he saw them up, we went back for four more panels to change out the living-room burgundy drapes and V-shape valances at our vacation home, but that is another story.

outdated master bedroom furnitureDespite the many moves, what is left of our bedroom furniture is in rather good all be it dated condition.  This was a very popular design when we bought it.  There were several variations around the same design, some plainer than others.  The little shelves on each side of the mirror that were so appealing when we bought the furniture are now viewed as dust collectors.  The top of the mirror is also a dust collector.  I normally had a couple of straw hats on top but I'm in the process of tearing the room apart.  All of the drawers have to be emptied as one of our kids is taking both pieces hopefully before our new furniture arrives.

master bedroom lighting
We did not install the halogen lighting fixture in the master bedroom.  It definitely is not a good design for any bedroom if you ask me.  The light is harsh and glaring creating odd shadows aside of not being very energy efficient.  We are replacing the lighting fixture but I'm not sure with what yet.  I have been looking since we bought the furniture but so far have not found something I like.  I am leaning towards a ceiling fan with light fixture similar to what we have in our vacation home.

I put the saying decal on the wall over the bed in lieu of a headboard shortly after we moved here knowing we were buying new furniture for the master bedroom.  This is a rather slick decal that is on a backing paper.  You position the backing paper and wording where you want it then slowly rub across each letter.  Once the letters have all been firmly rubbed, you slowly peel off the backing leaving the individual letters.  Unlike some decals, there is no clear sticker material around the letters so it looks quite nice.  The letters can be easily removed without marring the paint finish.  

master bedroom makeshift night stands
After about our fourth year of marriage, until we bought our vacation home in 2010, we had always had a television in our bedroom.  We did not put a television in down there and don't intend to.  We had planned on putting a television in our master bedroom here, hence the satellite box on the floor.  However, even though our bedroom television is sitting in the dart room/den on the lower level not being used, and won't be used, we have no plans to put it back into the bedroom.  We are finding that we are enjoying a higher quality of sleep without the television.  If I can't sleep, I get up and make a cup of chamomile tea blend that has rosehips, valerian root, anise seed, fennel seed, caraway seed, peppermint, passion flower, lemon balm and calendula petal.  I bring it back to bed with me and sip on it while playing a hidden objects game on the iPad before drifting back to sleep.  I have found this routine works well before bedtimes so I usually sleep through the night.  At any rate, we will be removing the satellite box.

We are currently using two IKEA storage baskets turned upside down as makeshift night stands.  Originally we were going to do our bedroom first but we spent six weeks of the fall of 2011 in Florida, then almost a full 3 months spread over 3 trips in Florida in 2012.  Instead we worked on the upper level bathroom, did a lot of work in the kitchen and repainted the guest room before running out of steam in 2012.  I spent the first two months of 2013 quite sick so it was only mid-March before I started having much of an interest in the house decor aside of keeping things neat and tidy which honestly some days was all I could muster!  The weather is starting to turn so I'd like to get the master bedroom and guest room finished before we start our outside work of landscaping and decking.  There are still a few projects to do in the kitchen.

We aren't fancy people as far as wanting a showroom bedroom.  We have our colours and furniture decided so I'm working on ways to make our bedroom comfortable, inviting and co-ordinated.  In the top picture you can see a few accessories I have bought for the make-over.  I'll post more that later.  I'm planning on making crochet blanks for both the master bedroom and guestroom.  I am ready to start the guest room blanket but still need one more colour (I think) for the master bedroom blanket.  I am still shopping for bedside lamps.  The only place we have ever had bedside lamps is at our vacation home but we really enjoy them so I need to find some that match nicely for the master bedroom.  I finally took the cross-stitch wedding sampler I worked so long on to the frame it shop so that will go in the master bedroom.  I also have one of the original paintings that we collect for the master bedroom as well.  Let the make-overs begin!