Birdhouses (a nesting project).

It’s kind of cruel of Joann’s to position a large bin of $1 dollar birdhouses right outside the door. How is a pregnant woman supposed to be able to resist buying one? Or five? Even if she’s not at all sure what she’s going to do with them and therefore has to spend the walk home scheming about yet another eleventh hour nesting project?

The birdhouse wall.

After visualizing some uses in Camilla’s room (most of which ended with small objects being dropped inside and mama being asked to get them out), I ended up deciding to put them on the sticker wall in the living room.

I fully admit to taking inspiration from this amazing sneak peek on design*sponge, although I kept my paint job simpler because there’s already a lot going on in this room. The paint colors were taken from the swirly floral pillow and ended up being surprisingly tricky to match. But I persevered.

To be honest, now that I see them on the wall, I can’t tell if the birdhouses look a little too I-found-these-at-Joann’s-and-painted-them-myself! (which is, of course, entirely true). But they add a bit of color and interest  so I’m letting them stay for now.

I did, however, have to remove the big blue bird that used to be there.  The houses would have been a pretty tight squeeze for him.

In other news, I am still waiting around to have a baby and have pretty much ceased all sewing/crafting activity because I don’t want to come home from the hospital to a table full of  sewing supplies. That hasn’t stopped me from scheming a little bit, though. I’ve decided that I want to try a 52-week photo project with the new babe like this one. And can I take a minute to mention how much I love Young House Love in general? Lots of nice prop-your-feet-up-and-read archives to catch up on. Anyway, I want to make sure that I don’t fall into the classic first kid has lots of photos, second kid have hardly any trap and I think a weekly photo will sort of force the issue. Camilla is welcome to be in them too, of course, but we’ll have to see if she’ll lie down and play.

Plus, between my current stash and many weeks’ worth of fabric I like, I should have more than enough to make a cute pair of sister quilts like this one at the end of the year. How’s that for motivation?

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The new nursery.

It’s rather fortunate that we’re having another girl because our kids are going to be sharing a lot, whether or not they want to: clothes, shoes, toys, a bedroom… We’re quite happy in our little two bedroom apartment and have no plans to move, so one of the challenges I gave myself a few months ago was to figure out how to fit a toddler bed into the room and still leave lots of space for play. This is the arrangement I ended up with.

The nursery.

I originally had something else in mind but found that my options were limited by the placement of outlets around the room. That sounds like a minor detail, but Camilla is very adept at prying out outlet covers so I needed to have bare wall by each bed and not a lot of hanging cords. In the end, this was pretty much the only furniture arrangement that met all the criteria.

I’m not keen on having too many transitions at once, so Camilla hasn’t started sleeping in her “big girl” bed yet. I figure we’ve got about three months with the bassinet before the girls have to truly share a room, and in the meantime I’m trying not to think about how that’s going to work out. The toddler bed has seen a lot of bouncing action, though. It is evidently very, very good for bouncing.

I ended up painting the rocking chair and I really like the creamy white. It makes things a bit crowded on this side of the room, but Camilla does enjoy some nice rocking every now and then. You can also see a bit of my new green rug. Stitching two together worked out very nicely, although they were not exactly the same width and there’s a bit of a bump on one side. Just another in a long list of imperfections that that this pregnant woman is not going to let bother her.

Here’s that side of the room again. Notice how Camilla is moving in all these shots? Yah, that’s pretty true-to-life. That girl does not want to sit still if she doesn’t have to.

I consider myself lucky that she find her sister’s new books so fascinating.

Exploring sister's things.

Sister’s things are also very fun to pull out and play with. I haven’t broken out the carseat yet, but I’m sure that it will be a whole new level of entertainment. I’m almost afraid to find out how fun it is.

Did it.

“Did it!” is what Camilla proudly announces when she’s completed a difficult task, like climbing on top of a chair. And that’s exactly how I felt when I finished my sofa slipcover on Sunday evening.

New sofa slipcover.

As a friend pointed out on facebook, the gestation period of this slipcover has been only slightly less than that of our newest child. I started on the project in late September but only managed to finish the cushion covers before morning sickness derailed me. Those were quite a bit of work, however, and every time I opened the closet I could hear them whisper, You’ve done the hardest part already…you’re not going to give up now, are you?

I think that one of the big differences between making a slipcover and reupholstering is you have to draft your own pattern. With true upholstery I’m assuming that you just cut apart the old fabric and use that. But with a slipcover, you have to start from scratch and people, believe me, it’s a whole lotta work. Things that probably started as straight lines have gotten rounded and lumpy from use and you find that what should be a nice mathematical solution pulls in funny places. I spent a really, really long time working on the fit of my muslin. It’s still not perfect, but it’s as close as this non-professional, 36.5 weeks pregnant, sleep-deprived, aching, nesting woman can make it.

Another thing that took a long time was that I serged and topstitched all the seams, essentially sewing everything three times. My machine started having a few tension and stitch length issues toward the end so it’s best if you don’t look at the topstitching very carefully, but I’m hoping that it will hold up well in the wash. Because I’m sure it’s going to be washed a lot.

Anna Maria Horner velveteen cushion cover.

I also sewed two new pillow covers from some really lovely Anna Maria Horner velveteen, putting in my first invisible zippers along the way. That was also a confidence-booster (although I am just now noticing that the pillows are upside down in these photos…oops). As a side note, to keep the cost of the slipcover project down I used velcro and not zippers on the cushion covers. I was a leetle bit afraid that it might come apart loudly when we sat down for the first time, but so far so good.

As part of my nesting kick, I also put up a new white curtain rod and some brown curtains from Ikea. And I touched up the paint in the living room, which always makes everything look cleaner. The ottoman needs a removable cover since it’s getting pretty dirty,  so if baby waits longer I might be able to finish that as well. I also whipped out a new curtain for Camilla’s room, a long piece of fabric with pockets on both ends that fits over the arms of my nursing chair (which will be swapped with the living room chair when the time comes), and a little pad for Camilla’s mini rocking chair.

Camilla's rocking chair cushion.

I’m hoping that I can convince her to rock next to me and not need to climb up on my lap when I’m feeding the new baby. (Good luck, right?) The floral feedsack print matches the curtain in her room.

The back has green dots on cream and the whole thing is reversible. I’d kind of like to paint the chair ivory — don’t hate me, the finish is not in great shape and the chair itself is not particularly well made — but we’ll have to see if that actually happens.

I also finally found the perfect green rug for her room, and since it was on sale I ordered two and plan to try to stitch them together. I have been looking for a bright grassy green rug for a long time, and two small ones were cheaper and give more surface area than one big one so I figured it’s worth the risk that it might not work out.  I’ll try to take a photo after the rugs arrive since it’s been a long time since I showed y’all her nursery and it looks a lot different now than it did back in the day.

In other news, I still don’t have a computer (weep) or Photoshop (weep, weep) and Picasa is driving me batty. Does anyone know how to get it to stop doing that annoying scroll thingy?? I would hate to hurl Josh’s computer across the room, seeing as it’s the only one we’ve got. I wanted to get the whole computer situation settled before the baby arrives, but I’m starting to think that she’s a little bit antsier than I had thought. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly happy to wait until my due date (June 20) or later. But something inside me says that I need to get ready NOW and I’m afraid to suffer the consequences if I ignore it.

So excuse me, I’ve got a little more nesting to do.

A quick fix.

I have been at a loss when it comes to the living room wall behind our couch. It is large. It is white. It is mostly empty. What to (cheaply) do?

The only thing that’s been there for months is the clock/wall sticker, which was left over from when our living room arrangement looked like this:

Paper garlands in the living room.

But then I moved some furniture and the sofa went against the wall, and for a while it looked like this:

But while I love the look of lots and lots of frames on other people’s walls, I just couldn’t handle it on my own. Too. Much. Stuff. So I took them down, leaving only the lonely clock. I considered three or five framed prints, I considered mirrors, I considered one big piece of fabric wrapped over canvas. But they all meant losing the clock (which I kind of like), and they all meant spending rather a lot of money.

So when I was wandering through TJMaxx sans child the other day and admiring all the pillows and throws and miscellaneous decor that I knew my husband wouldn’t like, I came across a set of wall stickers for $10. I almost left them there, but then started to consider the situation. Cons: wall stickers are a little bit overdone, a little bit generic, you can go overboard with these things. Pros: they work with the bird/tree thingy that’s already going on, they take up a lot of space, they’re nice clean silhouettes, $10.

In the end, the math was irrefutable and this was the result.

New wall stickers.

Due to the way they were printed on the page, the branches are a little more spindly than they initially seemed. I think they are also meant to be positioned sideways, but that just didn’t work for my wall.

They are very easily re-positionable, so I’ll probably fuss with the branches and leaves a bit more before I’m satisfied.

For $10 and 30 minutes of work, though, this tired pregnant woman is pretty happy. I might even go back and pick up another set to fill in the gaps.

(Other free/cheap improvements: I realized that the ottoman in Camilla’s room looked great in the living room, so now I can stop looking for a replacement for our tired grey ones. Yay! I also located an overpriced match for the endtable on the left at an antique store, and I’m thinking about making a counteroffer so we have a decent set. And I ordered fabric for new throw pillow covers to add a bit more color to the room. And I have some new curtains in the closet to bring out whenever I happen to get around to finishing that slipcover…)

Living room WIP.

[I know that two posts in a day is a lot for me, but I have all these photos that have been stockpiling and I just haven’t had time to put them up. So, I’m going to take this chance to catch up…]

I had one of my biannual (triannual?) urges to rearrange the living room last week. It was prompted by the realization that we needed to form some sort of home office in the bedroom so husband can work at home. Desk + living room x active one-year-old = poor studying environment. So, I added the desk to the bookshelf already cramming our bedroom wall and freed up a lot of nice space in the living room. My feng shui is undoubtedly all off, so it’s a good thing I don’t pay any attention to that sort of thing.

As it turns out, our living room has been through a number of variations already in the 1.5 years since we’ve lived here. This is an early version when we still had the desk and both bookshelves in the room (I think there was one even earlier than this, but I can’t find the photos).

Probably should have emptied the waste basket!

The pillow cases have got to go...

New apartment arrangement.

Later I swapped out the white curtain for my favorite Anthropologie duvet-cover-turned-curtains which you can see a bit in the photo below.

It was a decent arrangement, but as soon as Camilla started to show a great interest in books we decided to not fight that particular battle and moved them all into the bedroom. Josh also got me a new rug for my birthday, so I re-did the color scheme with a sort of dusty blue, green, and brown and swapped things around to look like this.

Paper garlands in the living room.

(Except for the garlands and extra chairs, which were there for Camilla’s party.)

The on-time guests...

(The wall sticker clock, fyi, was from Target but I’m not sure if they have it anymore. It is single-use, which meant that I have to work any new furniture arrangement around it or pull the whole thing down.)

Moving on up to the present, once I moved the desk into the bedroom I was able to put the bookshelf in its place.

That gave me enough room to scoot the couch against the wall, which opens up the window and — I think — the whole room.

New living room arrangement.

It gets really lovely light in the morning, and I like seeing the full length of the curtains.

Plus, I had a whole big wall to use for art!

The wall is still a bit of a work-in-progress, but I’m pretty happy with it so far. Especially since everything comes from the stash of unfinished projects in the own cupboards and I didn’t buy one single new thing.

The wall of frames.

I’ll post some close-ups sometime so you can get a better look. :) In the meantime, here is the current status of the room:

Recently finished projects:

– Move furniture
– Install permanent baby gate between living room and kitchen (should have done that a long time ago)
– Fill all the frames on the wall

Unfinished projects:

– Overdye the curtains (maybe no one can tell but me, but the green is a little too blue)
– Spray paint the coat hook white (I don’t like the brown, but I couldn’t find a white one)
– Finish knitting an ottoman cover (inspired by these)
– Find/paint two white side tables for the sides of the sofa
– Buy a new paper lantern to replace the one damaged in a tragic fly-swatting incident
– To be honest, I really really wish the sofa was white and sometimes contemplate sewing a slipcover. But the sheer amount of work involved always intimidates me. So it will stay brown (with maybe a white throw?) for now.

Once nice thing about the new arrangement is that it eliminated the need for a bunch of little things that I had been looking for to make the previous space work better. Hah hah! I feel like I’ve saved money already. Now, on to spend it on something else…

Patience pays off.

I have been wanting a new set of dishes for a while. Some long-time readers may remember the vintage cherry blossom set I used to have…unfortunately, it did not fare well on the trip to Pensacola and I lost a lot of plates. So many that I went ahead and gave the remaining dishes away to an appreciative young woman and went with a standard blue Ikea set instead. But then we broke one of those plates and it became increasingly frustrating for the the sixth person at dinner to be subject to a contrasting plate in addition to the indignity of sitting in a lawn chair. (I would love to buy two more chairs, but I simply have no idea where to put them when they’re not in use.)

Anyhow, the thrift stores around here are pretty pathetic when it comes to dishware. So after weeks of looking, I finally made up my mind to buy an inexpensive set of eight white plates at Target before our next dinner party. But then, the very day that I was going to make my purchase, husband and I visited my new favorite antique store and I found these beauties in a dusty corner in the back. 8 plates, 7 bowls, and 2 serving platters…all for $25.

New vintage dishes.

My camera’s white balance was a little off so it’s hard to see what a perfect shade of robin’s egg blue these are.

You might be able to tell, though, that each is slightly different, thanks to little bubbles and “imperfections.” I don’t know if they’re seconds or what, but I just love the way that each plate is unique.

I also love they way that they make sense of the rest of my random collection of dishware. I have a few plates with this tree and flower pattern and am always scouting for more.

I also picked up six of these little plates not long ago. A few of them have chips, but that has never bothered me.

Dishes + Ikea tray.

The blue also matches the two elephant platters I bought at Ikea a year ago.

Oh, these are the matching bowls…aren’t they nice? The wide rim helps to stop soup from spilling everywhere.

Ikea glasses.

Some Ikea cups…

Dishes + Orla Kiely mugs.

…and my beloved Orla Kiely for Target mugs.

Orla Kiely square bowls.

And bowls.

I don’t know if you can tell (hah hah!), but a natural blue/chartreuse/orangey red/brown theme has been developing in my kitchen. I really like it when a color scheme happens organically instead of me imposing it on the space. The same process has been brewing in the baby’s room, which I promise to show soon since it looks so different now than it used to. Oh, and the living room. After weeks (months?) of indecision I finally settled on some colors and ordered fabric for new throw pillow covers. I *might* be looking on Craigslist for a new sofa as well, but until someone posts a blue leather Chesterfield for $50, new pillows will have to do.

Of course, given my recent bout of luck I should probably check all the local antique stores…you never know what’s going to turn up!

….

As a random end note, have any other Nikon D40 owners had problems with the kit lens? My autofocus has been periodically seizing up for months and is really unreliable at the moment. I don’t mind shooting on manual but it’s hard to see when things are crisp and I have a lot of blurry pics as a result. Suggestions??

A cheap living room makeover.

Last week I was bitten by the decorating bug. In my spare time, I’ve been cruising design blogs, flipping through old issues of Domino (sniff), and scrutinizing our living room with an eye toward making some changes. Unfortunately, this comes at a time when there’s not a lot of spare cash to put toward home improvements. So, I decided to try moving the furniture around (a great free decorating trick!) and shop my linen closet instead.

My living room is small and has an awkward wall layout that is compounded by an air vent on the middle wall and a cable connection that can’t be moved.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take “before” photos until after I had already started moving things. So this looks a little cleaner/simpler than it actually was.

It wasn’t a terrible furniture arrangement, but everything felt sort of cramped all the time. Plus, I could only see the problem getting worse as more and more baby stuff migrates down the hall from her room into the living room.

Old apartment arrangement.

The couch had to stay where it was, but I pushed the two bookcases together to form a sort of library side to the room. We don’t even have that many books, but I feel like they are so distracting and un-simple looking….at least this way they’re all in one place. I sometimes half-heartedly consider covering them all in brown paper (but don’t worry, it will never happen).

The pillow cases have got to go...

I moved the reading chair next to the shelves and hung an unused Marimekko print behind it. It’s hard to see, but there’s a Japanese lantern overhead, my one new purchase. Moving the chair freed up space next to the tv that will probably eventually be filled by a toy bin or something of that nature.

New apartment arrangement.

The desk now takes the space right by the door. Maybe that will motivate me to keep it tidy! We sent the gigantic (and comfortable) leather office chair to school with husband. I miss sitting in it, but it didn’t fit into the desk opening and was thus always protruding into the room. Annoying. Those white cabinets on the right hold our cds, dvds and videos. We got them at Ikea and I love them so much — I can close and lock the doors so baby can’t get at everything when she starts to walk!

Probably should have emptied the waste basket!

The room isn’t “finished,” but I like it sooooo much better already. It makes me happy to see it, even during those middle-of-the-night nursing sessions. :) I’m now looking for a new area rug, a taller magazine shelf to go on the right side of the couch, and a picture to go above the entryway shelf (I’ll probably shop my closet for this). I’m making new pillow covers to replace the grey striped ones from some black and white Ikea fabric I already had that I’m painting with fabric inks. They’re not turning out quite like I had envisioned, but I think I’ll finish them anyway.

Marimekko fabric, Dwell studio pillow. 

I may also look for a new piece of art or fabric to go behind the chair. What do you think? Do you like the leaf?

I can’t sign off without posting some of the new baby cuteness that we’ve been seeing lately. Camilla is just now getting steady enough to give her new (used) Johnny Jump Up a try.

Not smiling, but not crying either.

I tried to catch her smiling, but she had this kind of worried look the whole time.

Careening in the jump-up.

It seemed to be a reasonably big hit for about five minutes, though, so I am looking forward to when she gets the hang of the whole “jumping” thing…for now, her feet stay in one place and she careens from one side to the other.

More fun with Jingle Pig.

Thank you, Lauren!

Now all I need is the matching baby.

Well, my due date was Wednesday and still no baby. I know that this is very common (especially for first-time moms) and am not too surprised, but it really would have been very nice if she had come as scheduled, especially since it was Josh’s birthday and all he really wanted was a baby. In an unexpected turn of events, however, I found out that my midwife is out of town until Sunday night and I’ve never met the backup doctor, so I am really hoping that I don’t go into labor until Monday. Monday would be nice, though. After a relaxing weekend and before my mom comes. Hear that, baby? Please come Monday.

Until then, we are trying to enjoy as many low-key, non-contraction-producing activities as possible. Out with the long walks, in with relaxing laps around a (borrowed) pool. It has been ridiculously hot here in northern FL, so anything that doesn’t involve a/c or large bodies of water is officially a Bad Idea. I think we’re going to go spend some time at the movies this afternoon…doesn’t that sound lovely? Comfy seat + dark air-conditioned room + distraction = the ideal way to pass the time. I don’t even feel guilty spending the money since who knows when we’re going to go to the movies again.

As you might have guessed, my nesting urges — which have never been as strong as I’ve heard other women describe — seem to be running low at the moment. I’m supposed to want to scrub the bathroom sink with a toothbrush instead of relaxing, right? I did manage to get some more work done in the nursery before the lethargy hit, however. These are a few photos of its current state, which is still not quite final.

Still haven't finished the curtain, unfortunately.

It’s a little hard to see, but I labeled each of the dresser drawers using pretty Martha Stewart labels (and an ugly black sharpie…didn’t think that through!) since I figured that husband’s chances of successfully changing and dressing the baby are much higher if he doesn’t have to pull out all nine drawers in the process. I was all ready to start on the curtain the other day when I realized that we somehow lost the curtain rod mounting gear during our last move so I need to get a new one. Sigh. Hopefully I will pick up a new rod and finish the project today or tomorrow since the “hole in the wall” look is a little annoying.

New painting.

This is the painting that I’ve been trying so hard to finish before baby comes. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s actually the culmination of a four month saga and about 10 coats of paint. It all started when husband read (and loved) The Little Prince and began a fantastically complicated drawing for the baby on a whiteboard in his classroom. It was full of stars and asteroids and special symbols that he developed through discussions with his omnibus students and which they then started drawing on all their papers. When I was thinking about art for the baby’s room, the first idea that came to mind was to take his whiteboard drawing and turn it into a big painting. I worked on some sketches for a while and then drew my final composition on the canvas and painted the background (you can see it in this photo). I didn’t get any farther before we moved, however, so the canvas then sat in the baby’s room until two weeks ago when I decided that I ought to at least try and finish since who knows when I’m going to have the time to paint again. By this time, however, I had changed my mind about the project and wanted to do a collage. Initially I wanted to paint the collage paper myself (I even managed to finish 4 or 5 pieces) but ran out of steam and decided to use National Geographic photographs instead. So I primed over my old painting, applied three coats of blue (the first was the wrong color), bought a bunch of old NGs, and spent a few days happily clipping and cutting and pasting my pieces together. And then I arranged them on the canvas.

And I hated it.

It took a little while for me to explain to husband how it was wrong, and in the end all I can say is that it was just too busy. I don’t go in for a lot of popular baby decor, but I do like the idea that a baby’s room is restful and calming. Simple. Which was not at all what the collage looked like. So I scrapped the idea and decided that I should do a painting after all. I primed over my dark blue background, applied two coats of light blue, and started on an acrylic painting.

Four hours later, I hated it too.

At this point I had put a lot of hours (and tears) into the project and was wondering whether I should keep trying on principle or just give up. I decided to give it one more shot using the same contact paper stenciling technique that I used on the bird wall (remember that?), since I was still pretty happy with the way it looked. So I applied yet another coat of primer, took out my scissors and contact paper, and started cutting again. And this is the way it turned out. 

The Little Prince.

The scene is the one where the Prince leaves his asteroid by harnessing a flock of birds that “happen to be flying by.” I really love the imagery and thought it fit well with the rest of the bird-ish nursery, so I added some of husband’s special asteroids and called it good. Not quite what I originally had in mind, but at least I managed to FINISH. Hah!

Bookshelf and framed Julia Rothman wallpaper scrap.

As I was working on the painting I remembered that I had ordered some Julia Rothman wallpaper samples from Hygge and West a while back and checked to see if any of them fit my color scheme. The piece above the bookshelf had the perfect combination of green, blue, and white and happened to be just the right size for a frame I already had, so it went on the wall. I think I may paint the frame blue eventually, but it’s okay for now. Hygge and West has just started selling wallpaper by the yard, so I think I’m going to get a yard of the same stuff and use it to cover a new shade for the lamp on the changing table. The brown is just too strong and I haven’t found a replacement I like — a wallpaper’d lampshade should be pretty easy, right?  

The ottoman is also new, a happy Goodwill find. The color’s not perfect but the price was right and I am pretty positive that I am going to want to put my feet up during all those late night nursing sessions. Since the painting ended up being light blue instead of navy that stripey rug really stands out to me now…I’m not sure if it’s going to stay in this room, but I haven’t made up my mind yet. I did order a mobile to go over the crib (this one — the seller is totally sweet and agreed to a partial trade for some prints from my shop) that has dark blue in it and might balance it out.

Of course, all of this obsessing about the baby’s room is a tad ironic since she’ll be sleeping in a bassinet in our room for a while. But it’s so hard to NOT decorate her space, even when I know that it won’t really matter at first. It makes me so happy to peek through the doorway and see her bed and her chair and her painting.

Come soon, little baby…the only thing missing is you!

Apartment preview.

After spending way more time than usual at school this week, I finally had a day at home. Aaaaah. The less time I spend at home, the more untidy it gets and the more agitated I feel when I return exhausted in the evening, put my (swollen) feet on the ottoman, and see all the things that need to be done. So today I dusted and vacuumed and mopped and worked on a few projects that have been lingering for weeks. It’s not “done,” but it’s good enough to show a few photos.

Bedroom.

I’m going to start with the bedroom because it makes me happy every morning to wake up and see the gorgeous light streaming through the window. The downside is that all that light makes it hard to go back to sleep (I’m still looking for the perfect curtain), but I am so grateful that this is the only “problem” with the room. I also want to paint that dark brown frame and find a new, non-brown shade for the bedside lamp, but I can definitely live with both until I get another burst of nesting energy.

That big painting I was working on.

This is that big painting for the bedroom that I said I was working on awhile back. It’s done except for needing a few coats of a clear matte sealer…it leaves mysterious blue marks on the wall if I’m not careful. Since we don’t have a headboard, I really like having something big hanging over the bed.

Mmm, wood paneling.

Our kitchen has a little dining nook on the side and great light thanks to a set of sliding glass doors leading to our cute little patio (forgot to take a photo of that, whoops!). It’s been a long time since I had wall paneling, and I can’t say that absence made the heart grow fonder. At least the table and chairs stand out nicely, right?

Charming cabinets.

This is the kitchen half. Living in Florida obviously didn’t stop the apartment owners from putting in cabinets with all the charm of an Alpine ski lodge. And they’re not just tacky in the visual sense — the cheap stain combined with high humidity makes the doors and shelves feel sticky all the time, no matter how hard I scrub. I lined all the shelves with heavy duty contact paper but there’s not much to do about the doors. Or the door handles. Sigh.

A more neutral living room.

This is the view of the living room which you see from the kitchen. I think I’ll probably throw a bed cover over the couch when baby comes to make this space a little brighter and so that she doesn’t spit up directly on the upholstery. Not that my baby will spit up, of course, but I’ve been told that it’s better to be prepared.

My Calder print, of course.

This room is a lot smaller than our old one, and to be honest it feels kind of cramped since we have so many non-negotiable items that needed to be squeezed in (not-shown bookshelves and cd cabinets, the sofa and chair, big ol’ tv, and a desk and office chair). Plus, the tv and modem simply had to fit along this little wall, which also has an ugly vent that can’t be completely covered up so I can change air filter from time to time. Our red tv cabinet was too big, so we ended up getting the half-size white one (which has our dvd player, cable box, and a lot of wires stuffed inside) and trying hide the vent with the chair. It’s not perfect, but I just couldn’t figure out what else to do.

I guess I’ll have to post photos of the sides of the living room sometime, but for now I’ll try and leave you with the impression that our new apartment is very sparse and clean all the time.

Yah, right.

Operation: Baby’s Room (a week later).

For some happy reason, our school tacks an extra Monday onto spring break. (Perhaps it’s because they know that everyone procrastinates on school projects over break and really needs that extra day to get their stuff together?) So I technically have today to work on home projects, but I’ve decided to call it quits for a while…over the weekend I was so tired I could–and did–cry, which seemed a little antithetical to the idea of a “break.”  

Anyhow, this is as much as I got done in the baby’s room. I managed to complete each of the big projects I had in mind (paint wall, paint dresser, buy + assemble crib and bookshelf, clear out other junk) and I’m pretty happy with the way it looks right now.

Baby's room (after).

This is the view from the hallway. I so love my little Amy Ruppel encaustic piece and am happy that it’s the first thing you see when you walk in.

Baby's room (after).

This is the version of the Gulliver crib that we ended up with. I had really wanted white, but in the end I think that the birch works pretty well as long as I have white or mostly white sheets (I still need to order the white-with-navy-blue-polka-dots sheets that I finally tracked down).  My contact paper stencil project ended up working really well and I will post a tutorial as soon as I can. As a little preview, though, I can tell you that it involved cutting out nine bird silhouettes on contact paper, applying them to the wall, giving them a coat of primer to seal the edges, and then painting over the whole thing with two coats of gorgeous sky blue.

Still need a curtain...

Um, now that I look at this shelf I’m wondering why I ever thought I needed the big version. I have plenty of room for more toys and books…why do I automatically assume that bigger is better? I do still need to work on cleaning that chair, though. I contemplated trying to dye it green to cover the dirty spots, but the golden color goes really well with the crib. Any tips on cleaning velour upholstery?

Little sweaters and dresses.

I don’t want to show the whole (still messy) closet, but I adore looking at baby’s little clothes hanging in a row. No, I don’t plan on dressing her entirely in pastels–I just scooted the other colors to the side because they don’t look as nice together.

The refinished dresser.

I should have taken a better before photo so you can tell how much better the dresser looks now. It is really quite improved, between the fresh paint and shiny white knobs. (The painting/collage, obviously, still has a long way to go.)

Putting baby's clothes inside.

I even lined the drawers with cute polka dot contact paper and spent a happy evening folding little bitty onesies inside. It’s amazing how quickly all that space fills up!

White knobs!

I went back and forth for a while trying to figure out what to do about the brass knobs. Furniture purists may hate me for this, but in the end I decided to paint them and I am so happy I did.

Brasso did a good job (but not good enough).

I did give it a go with steel wool and Brasso first, but the brass had a strange speckling that just would not go away. I think they originally had some sort of gold colored plating that was wearing off, but the only advice I could find online for removing plating involved phrases like “reverse the polarity.” Um, no thank you.

Spray painting the dresser knobs.

At the advice of the salesperson at Lowe’s, I went with high-gloss latex spray paint and it worked pretty well. If you are going to try this at home, I highly recommend propping the handles up on some styrofoam or they all tip over. Oh, and make sure to use lots of paint or the finish is matte instead of shiny. It will probably chip off eventually, but for now it looks pretty good.

30 weeks.

All of these projects (plus a lot of other ones) were made more challenging by the constantly growing person inside of me who has developed a new affinity for kicking in uncomfortable places. I had an appointment with the midwife this morning and she told me that I’m reasonably-sized for week 30. That was nice to hear, because I’ve been feeling positively enormous lately. Husband affectionately refers to the “big baby,” which may just be a euphemism for “big wife.” But it certainly sounds nicer.