I Just Dyed in Your Arms Tonight

After hemming and ironing longer than I would have liked, I finished the curtains yesterday.  And I’m now convinced I need to invest in a higher quality iron.  Apparently, the ten-dollar one I have isn’t fit to iron curtains, hence the hours of ironing.  But let’s start at the beginning.  As I pointed out yesterday, we needed a way to take the curtains down without removing the rod.  Why?  This might explain it.

Rather than going the conventional rod route, Ben and I agreed it would look cool to use galvanized pipe for the living space.  Once attached to the wall, it will be difficult to remove just the rods.  The living room window is 125 inches wide, which means we need a looooong curtain rod and extra wide curtains.  When looking for 144 inch rods, its slim pickin’.  Target didn’t have anything longer than 120 inches.  Home Depot had 144 inch rods, but all are more traditional looking that we wanted, like this one that was $45.  However, our Home Depot doesn’t carry that same rod in a shorter length.

So I called Ben while shopping to see what he thought of pipes turned industrial curtain rod.  Luckily, he was down for it.  We discussed the sizes available and came up with three flanges, three 3 1/2 inch nipples (I can tell men named these parts), two 90 degree elbows, and one tee, all 1/2 inch diameter per window.  The larger living room window needed 72 inch long pipes, while the shorter dining window was fine with 60 inch pipes for the rods.

Using a flange, nipple, and tee in the center of each window gives an extra support and allowed us to use two shorter lengths of pipe.

Ben was apprehensive about using drop cloths for the fabric, but I told him it would be okay, so he trusted me.  I walked out of Home Depot $163.76 lighter (dang pipes are expensive) with curtain and rod material in hand.  Now the pressure was on.  I actually had to make these look good.  A quick stop at Joann fabric for three boxes of black fabric dye and I was ready to get to work.  The process of sewing wasn’t difficult, just time-consuming, including a ton of measuring.

With the top, sides, and snaps done, I decided to dye the panels before ironing and hemming the bottoms.  I really wanted a medium gray color, but Joann had light gray and black dye.  Black was my best bet to get a mid saturation, so I mixed one and a half boxes of powder dye with a huge bucket of hot water.  I’m not sure how many gallons, but trust me when I say it was huge.  Then I soaked each panel, one at a time until the colors seemed uniform.  Because I was alone with the boys, I didn’t time anything, just left each panel in a while until it seemed to reach maximum saturation.  Then into the washer for a short, cold wash and a toss in the dryer.  Quite pleasantly, all panels seemed to match and didn’t have uneven spotting.  Success!

And here are the washed, measured, sewn, tabbed, snapped, dyed, hemmed, and ironed curtains in place.  Looking lovely, if I might add.

Each panel barely grazes the floor.

Back tabs are the shiz.  Look how nicely the panels bunch and hang.

But there is one small downside.  Even though the drop cloths are marked 9 by 12 feet, they’re actually about 8 1/2 by 11 1/2 feet.  Straightening up the edges and adding about one foot of rod length makes the large window panels look short when closed.  Oh well, the window is covered and that’s what really matters, right?

The dining panels are perfect though.

You can kind of see that I didn’t make panels for the French doors out to the deck.  When we replace the windows (which will probably happen next summer), we’re changing things up.  No more door there.  Muhahahaha (that’s my evil villain laugh).

Now if we could just get a dining table.  And a light.  Ha.

Can you tell I’m excited about the new curtains?  I’m loving the warmth they add to the room.  Just makes it look lived in.

Mission accomplished.  We’ve got (pretty) curtains.

And here’s what it cost us:

For living room:  $33.90 for two 72 inch long pipes, $2.24 for one tee, $18.72 for three flanges, $3.12 for two elbows, $4.38 for three 3 1/2 inch nipples, $21.98 for a 9 by 12 foot drop cloth, and $2.29 for one box of fabric dye for a total of $86.63

For dining room:  $27.40 for two 60 inch long pipes, $2.24 for one tee, $18.72 for three flanges, $3.12 for two elbows, $4.38 for three 3 1/2 inch nipples, $21.98 for a 9 by 12 foot drop cloth, and $2.29 for one box of fabric dye for a total of $80.13

If I had bought two standard curtain rods, I would have spent 90 bucks on rods, so basically four curtain panels cost about 75 bucks.  Not too shabby.  But I’m not completely done yet.  I think I’ve decided what I want to do, so I’ll be back with more details when I actually get around to that.

Do you have odd sized windows to work with?  Have you used pipes for curtain rods?  Drop cloths for curtains?

I’m Board

Oh yes, I know that’s the wrong type of board.  That’s a hint for you.  I’ve gotten a few questions about mood boards, so here’s what I do.  Professional designers probably have a quicker, better method, so if you’ve got tips or tricks, feel free to share in the comment section.

Are you ready?  Here goes nothing.  First, open a new document in Photoshop.  The canvas can be any size and resolution, you can always change it as you go.  I typically make mine 9 inches wide by 5 inches tall at 180 dpi.  Now, find an image of the items you want to add.  To make it easy on myself, I go to a website and take a screen shot and paste it (Control + V) on my canvas.  This automatically adds each item as a new layer.  When possible, use an image against a white background.

To remove a colored background, select the eraser tool, adjust the diameter, leaving the hardness at 100 percent.

For me, the easiest way to erase a background is using a small eraser tip, holding the shift button, and carefully clicking around the edges.  For straight lines, click once at the far end, hold shift and click at the opposite and it will make a straight line.  To go around corners, follow this same procedure, making smaller clicks to go around.

After tracing all the edges, erase the remaining background with a larger eraser tip.  If you want the item larger or smaller, click the rectangular marquee to make a box around the item.  Right click and select ‘Free Transform’.  Hold shift to enlarge proportionately and hit enter when you like the size.

You’ve made one item!  Go back to another image, screen shot, and paste it in.  Rename the new layer right away so you’re not searching through once you’ve added several items.

Erase the background on this one, too.

After tracing the outline, go back in with a larger brush tip to make this quicker.

Keep on adding items.  If you get an item you want to rotate, select the marquee, right-click, and choose ‘Free Transform’.  While holding shift, turn the item.

See that rug above?  Well, I don’t want it to lay over the couch.  Find that layer and drag it under the rest, making it the first layer.  Now the rest of the layers will sit on top if it.

If you want to add two of one item, select the layer, right-click on it, and select ‘Duplicate Layer’.

Photoshop places the new layer over the existing one, so move it where you want and you’ve got a pair.  If you want to flip it, use the marquee tool, right-click, and select ‘Flip Horizontal’.

For paint swatches, I think this method is the quickest.  First, paste the screen shot of the color.  Use the marquee too to make a square on the swatch.  Push Control and C at the same time to copy, then Control and V to paste the selected square.

Delete the screen shot of the swatch and move your new little box over to fit in your board.

Then you can choose accent paint colors and layer those on top.

It’s up to you if you want to arrange the furniture to look like a room.  Or just group pieces together to get an idea of the elements as a whole.

P.S.  If you’re having a hard time seeing the details, click on the picture to enlarge it.

P.P.S.  All keyboard short cuts mentioned are for PC, not Mac, though they are similar.

How’s it Hanging?

As usual, when back in Minnesota, Ben and/or I try to help my sister with something on her house.  Over our Christmas vacation, Ben refinished her stairs and built an awesome bookshelf.

Of course Ben’s skill set grossly out does mine, so I decided to do what I do best.  Hang a few pictures.  Ash gathered up her frames and art to take this wall from blank to beautiful.

Ten framed pictures later, we’ve got a super simple gallery wall.  To simplify the hanging process, I held up the pictures, asked for opinions, then marked the wall to hang using this method.

For the arrangement layout, I tried to follow the line of the stairs.

As they accumulate artwork, this wall can be added to and rearranged to fit large and small art.  But it makes their home feel more lived in and cozy.

What have you been up to lately?  Hanging pictures?  Going on a vacation?  Helping your family with a house project?  Getting help for a project?

Un Homme & Une Femme

As I mentioned yesterday, the main bathroom isn’t finished, but that’s not stopping me from working on finishing touches.  I could resist making art for the back wall.  A large piece of art at that.  For bathrooms, I try to stay away from anything with eyes, because that just seems creepy to me.  Who wants to feel watched while doing your private business anyway?  So, I thought up bathroom appropriate art, but nothing felt perfect.  I didn’t want anything frilly.  Nothing too fancy.  Nothing to compete with the patterned shower curtain.  But something bold, simple, and most importantly, fun.  Then, it came to me.  Why not make an over sized version of the classic man/woman signs to mark commercial bathrooms?  It’s bold.  It’s simple.  It’s fun.  And bonus, it was easy to make. 


I started with a 2 foot by 3 foot frame I had sitting in the basement.  For my background, I painted a large piece of paper I had on hand navy blue.  An internet search gave me photos of the signs, so I made a design in Photoshop, printed it to plain paper, and used the designs as a template.  Then, I cut a man and a woman from card stock.  A few piece of rolled tape on the back held my people in place.  Popping it in the frame instantly made it look more chic and cheeky than the standard bathroom sign.

It certainly adds a dose of fun to the bathroom.  Best of all, it cost me under five bucks for materials!

Would it be too much to hang one of each of these vases over the toilet?

In other breaking bathroom news, Ben grouted the shower.  Crisp white grout is nice to see.  Once we, ah hem, Ben installs the faucet set, we can shower in here.  Yippee skippy. 

One of these days, I should wash that mirror.

So there ya have it, cheap, funny, eyeless bathroom art.  What do you think?  Too commercial feeling?  Just the right amount of kitsch to add personality to the space?  What do you have on your bathroom walls?

Coral Crush

Our main bathroom remodel still isn’t done, so most people aren’t using it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t work on storage.  Being drawerless in the bathroom, wait, that came out wrong.  Without drawers in the vanity, I have to get creative with hidden storage.  So, I took to Pinterest to see what fun I could come up with.  I saw neat tutorials to make soft sided fabric bins, creative hard sided boxes, and even considered a rope covered box.  Ultimately, I decided to combine a few ideas to make something perfectly suited for our bathroom.  So, I started by cutting a large box to fit inside our small linen closet because I couldn’t find a pre-made box to fit the same.

Of course, cardboard boxes are ugly.  Luckily, I’ve been hoarding fabric lately, so I pulled out a yard of light gray duck cloth.  I didn’t have a long enough piece to completely wrap around the box, so I cut one strip 12 inches wide along the long end of the fabric.  To cover the back, I cut another small 15 inch wide by 12 inch tall strip to piece together.  With my long strip taped in place, I marked the corners.

Using those small marks, I sewed the smaller piece to make a box slip cover.

Because I was feeling lazy, I used Gorilla tape to hold the fabric in place along the underside and around the top edges.

It seemed too boring, so I dug through my paint stash until I found a bottle of coral acrylic paint.  How ’bout some stripes?  After measuring and marking two-inch wide strips, I taped off my edges.

And used a sponge brush and pouncing motion to paint near the edges and filled in the middle.

Pulling off the tape is such a fun part of painting.  Especially when the lines are crisp.  I had some rope on hand, so I marked two holes to create a handle.  Using a screw, I rotated through the fabric and cardboard to make the pilot holes.  Stuffing a pen through widened the holes enough to get the rope through.  Simple knots on each end hold the rope in place.

Now I’ll have to find a white or gray vinyl to line the inside.  Right now, it holds bath toys and we’ve got room for other ugly junk.

I’m really surprised at how sturdy it seems, but we’ll see how it holds up over time.  I think I’ll add fabric to the bottom so the shelf doesn’t get scuffed up when it’s pulled in and out.  Gotta hunt down a good-looking clothes hamper and maybe a few wire baskets.  Or maybe I’ll get all DIY on the hampers arse and make something myself.  Who knows.  Until then, tell me about your bathroom storage situation.  Do you prefer drawers, cabinets, boxes, open shelves?