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Monday, August 31, 2015

My Top 5 August Favorites

My Favorite Pin:
Industrial Chic
Oh the things I LOVE about this space!  First and foremost, I love the overall "feel".  This is a style that I love for myself, but I will admit there are a few elements in this photo that may be a touch too contemporary for me.  But nonetheless, I love this room!  I call this style Industrial Chic.  I quite honestly don't know if that is a "real" style or not, but it is the name I came up with for spaces with natural & industrial elements, metals & wood, something old & something new.  I think the best place to start is the flooring; wide plank wood and vintage tiles!  Look closely at that kitchen floor...LOVE LOVE LOVE!  Those green, gold and white tiles pull the space together from one side of the room to the other.  The brick wall is a must-have in any Industrial Chic home!  Don't have a brick wall in your house?  Build one!  Find old reclaimed bricks and choose your wall.  It couldn't hurt to check out this site before you start.  Not everyone has the time or money to put up a real brick wall, so then what?  Fake it!  Use brick tiles or even a sheet of fake brick from the home improvement stores.  Add a little joint compound and some paint, and that fake wall will fool everyone who walks into your home (my tutorial on this is coming soon, but in the meantime, check this out).  Take a look at that kitchen island!  It appears to be an old work bench with a piece of butcherblock on top.  A nice deep sink with a simple faucet and storage underneath...perfect!  The "exterior" space is loaded with great features as well.  Check out those floating stairs connected to a ladder leading to a mystery loft area above!  And the numbers carved into the stone wall are a super cool touch.  That sums up the "hardscape" of this space, but it is the furniture and accessories that pull the look together and make it feel so welcoming.  The chalkboard on the kitchen wall, the industrial pendants, the cool cart with fresh flowers and the wood and metal barstool, all come together to create a cohesive look that is warm and pleasing to the eye.  Kudos to the designer of this space!

My Favorite Exterior Color Combo:
Exterior Colors
Cream, white, black, gray and green (plant green, that is)!  Now this home is very unique in style, but the color combination can be applied to just about any house on the block.  This color combination is classic, trendy, formal, informal, and just plain ole pretty all at the same time!  To start with, I love the creamy stones that make up the base color of this home.  Here it is a natural color, but could be easily reproduced with paint to give you the same feel.  Now obviously your home needs to have some architectural details, like corbels, shutters, railings, posts, etc., to add more colors.  These details on this home appear to be done in black and gray.  Notice the lighting, railing and even the front door, are all within the black/gray color scheme.  Many people would be tempted to paint this front door a color that pops, and although that would not be wrong, it would distract from the overall "pretty" feel that it currently has.  In my opinion, the color that pops in this photo is the green of the shrubs and trees!  That is the main reason why this home is beautiful, and not boring.  Keep it simple, choose a few colors and add natural elements to create a soothing home that looks and feels like this one!

My Favorite DIY Project:
Check out this blog!  I go into house after house after house for decorating jobs, and nine times out of ten, there is a popcorn ceiling that has to go!  It will cost you hundreds of dollars to pay a professional to remove your light-sucking ceiling (popcorn ceilings make rooms look darker), but YOU can do it for almost nothing.  As you will see in this blog, you only need a spray bottle and a knife.  Most people have those 2 items laying around the house already!  I would also grab some plastic sheeting and tape off everything, including the walls.  This stuff makes a mess, but cleanup is easy if it all lands on the plastic!  In summary, spray down your ceiling in sections to get it soaked, run a large drywall knife along the ceiling, then clean up.  That's about it!  The most important tip is to keep your knife flat at all times so you don't gouge the ceiling.  Oh...and wear eye protection & a mask!  After it is cleaned up, prime and paint.  As noted in this blog, check for asbestos before starting this project.  Click here for tips on asbestos safety.

My Favorite Fall Look:
Fall Porch
SIMPLE!  This porch is sweet, simple and warm.  It isn't just all the accessories, either.  The love starts with the house color and that gorgeous door, but certainly don't overlook the painted striped floor!  Wondering where to get those cool accessories?  Check out KalamazooKitty, of course!  We always have a large selection of old ladders, large metal tubs and wreaths.  A great time to shop is at our fall outdoor events!  September 19th, 2015 is our Autumn Air Event at the West Main location.  October 10th, 2015, is our Fall Kickoff Event at the Portage Rd. location.  Both events will have outdoor booths filled with fall decor & furnishings!  Now that you know where to grab these items to duplicate this look, let's break it down:
Wreath: this wreath is a simple dark orange.  It could be leaves, bittersweet or anything else you can find.  Make your own or pick one up.
Wreath hanger: not the usual metal, this is a piece of a burlap sack!
Old ladder: any size will do, as long as it fits your space.  We have several wide bottom ones at both locations right now!
Burlap BOO: once again, buy it or make it.  This is an easy project with some burlap and paint, but you will probably find them already made at KalamazooKitty.
Old turkey pan: what a great idea for holding pumpkins and gourds!  I picked one up at a garage sale last year, but any old metal container will do the trick!
Hay & cornstalks: your local farmer's market or pumpkin patch will have plenty to choose from.
Doormat: pick one that works with your color scheme and the season.
So even if you can't paint your front porch with cool stripes, you can pull together a great fall look that will welcome in the holiday season!

My Favorite Piece @ KalamazooKitty Right Now:
Drafting Table & Stools

Oh do I love this "island"!  Originally an old drafting table with metal mechanisms and solid wood top, aligned horizontally it makes the perfect kitchen island!  Paired with these 4 industrial metal stools, this is the perfect addition to an Industrial Chic home.  But let's not stop there!  Yes, you could use it as a drafting table, but how 'bout a craft table for the kids?  A wrapping station or scrapbook center?  A folding table for the laundry room or a card table in the basement for parties?  A dining table on a screened-in porch or a desk for your home office?  The possibilities are endless, which is why it is my favorite item on consignment right now!  This drafting table, and stools priced separately, are at the West Main location.  If you have been looking for one of these treasures, this is one of the best I've seen!  Solid, sturdy and ready for a new yours!

That wraps up August!  Tomorrow welcomes September...back to school, cool night air, mums in bloom and leaves starting to fall.  This is my FAVORITE time of year in Michigan!

This is from you!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Habitat Home in Kalamazoo, MI

Part of the Habitat Crew
Check.  I can now cross "helping on a Habitat house" off my bucket list!  Not to say I won't continue to volunteer for Habitat, because I am certain I will, but I am thrilled to have experienced the joy of building for a cause.  I am no stranger to building...sheds, walls, kitchens, you name it, but when you build to help someone else build their new life, it adds a whole new dimension.  Working together as a community and a team builds not only houses and sheds, but new relationships and camaraderie among a group of strangers from all walks of life.  This particular group consisted of a Habitat Lead Builder, a Crossfit AZO team, the future homeowner, a group of traveling Habitat volunteers and a handful of other locals looking to lend a hand on a beautiful Saturday in Kalamazoo, Michigan!  Although I can't claim to be a Crossfitter myself, I always try to support Crossfit AZO when they step out into the community to help others in need. 
So let's walk through the day with Habitat so that you, too, know what to expect if you decide to check this one off your bucket list as well!

We started at 8:30 with a brief safety video at the Habitat warehouse.  It was pretty basic stuff, but pretty important nonetheless!  After meeting everyone who was involved, we started right to work loading up trailers and trucks with everything from rakes to hammers to piles of wood!  A short stroll around the block and we arrived at our Habitat work site.  Much to my surprise we were not building a new home!  We were renovating an existing home and building a new shed.  And when I say renovating, I might as well say building a new home! This home will be outfitted with all new electric (no more knob and tube wiring), plumbing, insulation, kitchen and landscaping.  One of the seasoned volunteers told us that it will essentially be brand new by the time Habitat is finished with it. 
Inside the existing home
I don't know for sure, but it looked to me like this particular home was a few weeks into the process.  After a brief tour of the grounds, we set off clearing away old fencing, removing posts and stumps, and unloading the equipment from the trailers.  Keeping the heat index in mind, our leaders always made sure we took breaks and drank plenty of water...did I mention donuts, too?! Anyway, back to work!  We divided up into teams to tackle the different areas of the home so that we weren't tripping over each other.  A daring group of volunteers dressed up in hazmat suits and headed straight down to the basement to remove old equipment and debris.  Another group tackled the lathe and plaster walls; clearing them down to the studs.  One Crossfitter, who was after an intense upper body workout, spent the better part of the day removing very well established shrubs from the front of the house.  So what did I do, you ask?  I was on the shed-building crew.  I could not wait to break out the power tools and get that shed built! NOT.....SO..... FAST!  Due to the fact that the majority of workers on Habitat home sites are inexperienced volunteers, power tools were few and far between.  In other words, we built that shed with hammers and nails!  No nailguns, no chop saws, no drills! 
A hammer...really?!
It took me a moment to adjust to this heartbreaking news because I LOVE my power tools, but I have to admit it was an eye-opening experience. 
The Shed Crew (without me)
These homes are going up all over the country the old-fashioned way!  Now don't get me wrong...there was an occasional tool that was plugged in, but those were used only by the professionals.  So I grabbed a hammer and started swinging.  My husband, the homeowner and a few others and I had those walls up in no time (I probably should mention the Habitat crew leader that guided us every step of the way!).  Throw in a lunch break and some more water, and we were right back at it. Each crew continued to plug away at their tasks at hand until the day eventually came to an end around 3:30.  We cleaned up the site, loaded all the equipment back into the trucks and strolled around to appreciate all our hard work.  It really is amazing how much can get done when a group of people work together!  As the old saying goes...many hands make light work.  We spent the day making new friends, learning new skills and talking about what Habitat is doing around our own communities.  I found that many people, including myself, have misconceptions as to what Habitat is offering to those homeowners who are receiving new homes.  These are not free homes by any means!  Habitat works with the family to find a manageable financial plan to allow them to pay off their new home interest-free.  But that's not it!  Each recipient is required to contribute 300-500 "sweat equity" hours to help others just like them.  I loved working along side the new homeowner on this project.  It allowed me to connect with her, learn her story and help her achieve her dreams. For more information, and to sign up to volunteer on a Habitat home, check out the Habitat website.  Trust won't regret it!  It will be rewarding and fulfilling, but most importantly, eye-opening.  So grab your gloves, goggles and hardhat and help build a home that will fulfill another family's dream!

This is from you!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Home Staging...Is it worth it?

Bedroom AFTER
Bedroom BEFORE
The housing market is red hot right now!  Buyers are searching through listings online 24/7.  Whether your house is currently on the market, or you are thinking about selling soon, you should definitely consider home staging!  Studies have shown that most buyers are determining whether or not they want to see a home by the photos they see online.  Staged homes photograph like a magazine spread!  I'll throw some statistics at you at the bottom of this page, but right now let's get into a project that I just completed.  These finished rooms are not just for show!  The elements I used are perfectly suitable for everyday living, as well as preparing your home to sell.  This remodel may be a little more extreme than a typical staging, but I still would apply the same principles when it comes to the finishing touches.  In the before photo of the bedroom, you can see that the room is off balance due to the fact that there is only one window.  To visually balance this out, I used a mirror painted in the trim color and dressed it like a window. 
Old chippy bench!
How 'bout that paneling?!  I love the texture paneling brings to a room, but it must be painted!  In this bedroom, I chose Sherwin Williams Silvermist for the walls.  The ceiling is SW Muslin and the trim is a custom match to the kitchen cabinets so that the entire house flows from one end to the other.
Accessories from
The majority of the furniture, and almost all the accessories in this bedroom, came from KalamazooKitty! Antique side tables painted with Heirloom Traditions Paint, an old weathered chippy bench, a vintage fan and a stack of old books finish off the room.  We also added a dark stain to the beams, changed out the ceiling fan, and removed the popcorn from the ceiling.  Popcorn belongs in a a movie theatre...with a ton of butter.  It never belongs on a ceiling!  Removing it is easier than you would think (check out Pinterest for how-to's on removing popcorn ceilings).
Adjoining Office BEFORE
The adjoining office received a make-over as well.  After removing the built-in desk and painting the walls SW Netsuke, I added several more pieces from KalamazooKitty.  An antique desk that just needed a shot of Old English, a tall bookshelf that I painted DIY Black Velvet, 2 chocolately brown slipper chairs with another antique table in between, and a vintage coat rack for scarves, hats or ties. You may also notice the unique art in all the photos!
Adjoining Office AFTER
The Michigan plank, the KALAMAZOO planks, the metal LAKE and the embossed "B" are all handmade, unique pieces that came from the booths at the KalamazooKitty West Main location.  Let's not overlook the birdcage light...another great find from the West Main location!  This small bathroom was almost completely gutted from top to bottom.  Probably more than a seller would be doing to stage a home to sell, but the finishing touches would still apply. I transformed an old buffet/dresser into a vanity with a partial drop-in sink, found the metal mirror at KalamazooKitty (not to mention the soap dispenser!), and all new tile in the shower.  To save money, we went with a simple subway tile with very tiny gray grout lines.  Classic and pretty, but inexpensive! More photos Here.
Bathroom AFTER
Bathroom AFTER
Bathroom BEFORE
The walls in this bathroom are painted SW Ecru.  A couple of old barn trusses make great shelves above the toilet with mason jars to hold cotton balls and Q-tips.  I made the towel bar and toilet paper holder out of black iron pipe fittings that I picked up at a home improvement store.  Just be sure to clean the fittings  REALLY well before hanging a white towel on it!  You can usually find the toilet paper holders at KalamazooKitty, as well.  Whether you are redecorating a room or staging your home to sell, remember to keep it simple, uncluttered and user-friendly! Not the DIY type, but you need to stage and sell your home? Fear not! 
I stage exclusively for my husband's listings and make sure all his homes sparkle like new and make potential buyers feel right at home!  Representing Jaqua Realtors of Kalamazoo, Phil Copeland is available to help you find the perfect place to call home, or help you sell your existing home and move on to the next phase in your life.  Be ready for your house to sell quickly, as Phil's homes are staged perfectly to bring in buyers from the beautiful photos online. 
Phil Copeland, Jaqua REALTOR
Remember, shopping for a home starts at home on the computer!  Still wondering if staging is worth the time and money?  Statistics show that professionally staged homes sell faster and for more money than unstaged homes.  Having your home on the market can be stressful and inconvenient.  So having it on the market for a very short period of time is ideal!  Phil can get your home listed, staged and sold in a hurry so that you can move on to your dream home...which he can find for you as well :).
To see the rest of this project, click here!

This is from you!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"Barn Wood" Trestle Table

Bring it on!  I love anything barnwood!  I realize this may be a fad that will soon be on its way out, but what I love about it is the natural element it adds to any room, not to mention it is usually free or really cheap.  Over the past decade while I have been decorating Kalamazoo area homes, there is one "style" that bugs me to no end!  I call it "furniture store" style.  Not that I have anything against furniture stores, because I don't, but I do have something against "sets".  Bedroom sets, living room sets, dining room sets, etc.  At KalamazooKitty, we strongly encourage our consignors to split up their sets when they bring them in to sell.  This usually results in a faster sale because not everyone wants, needs or can fit an entire set into their home.  On top of that, most people don't shop in sets anymore (thank goodness!).  So why barnwood?  Well, in addition to mixing up your furniture with something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue black, you need to add a little nature in as well.  Not sure where to add natural elements in your home? 
Trestle Table BEFORE
Let me throw out some suggestions: a pallet wall, a barnwood frame, an old crate, wide plank pine floors stained dark, a rake wine glass holder (you can find one at KalamazooKitty West Main right now!), barn beam shelves or mantle, a huge sliding barn door or even a faux barn wood dining table.  Why faux?  I have been asked many times if it is safe to put pallet wood or barn wood in your home.  The answer is yes and no!  If you are shopping for pallets (I mean picking), make sure they are labeled HT.  This means they were treated with heat and not chemicals.  If they are not stamped, pass them by and do not invite them into your home!  As for barnwood, the concern is not usually chemicals so much as it is the bugs!  Now treating the wood with chemicals to kill the bugs would be taking a step in the wrong direction, so don't do that.  Some people like to wrap the wood tightly in a bag and let it sit a while to kill off anything alive. 
One light coat of paint.
Other than that, I have no great advice on removing insects that may have made their home in that piece of barnwood that you plan to use for your headboard!  So to be completely certain that you won't have termites crawling into bed with you at night, let's fake it!  I have painted many faux barnwood boards over the past several months using many different techniques.  In my Advanced paint classes, I teach the barnwood effect using several colors of paint and wax.  The project here is even easier than that!  If you read my last blog, then you know that I went on a garage sale trip last week. 
After sanding
Oh what fun!  I found lots of treasures that now adorn my office and dining room.  I even grabbed an old level or two!  I also came across this trestle table that was too good to pass up.  I had been wanting to try a different barnwood technique for a while, but never found the right piece to do it on...until now!  This table was a little wobbly, so I tightened it up.  Other than that, it was ready for paint.  My daughter and I applied a very light coat of Heirloom Traditions A La Mode paint.  It is basically a white.  Any shade of white will work. 
Why Heirloom Traditions?  Because I love it!  No prep, no priming, just painting.  After this coat was dry to the touch, I sanded it pretty hard with my orbital sander, exposing a good amount of the original wood and wood grain. 
Adding a gray wax.
Next was wax.  I chose Heirloom Traditions Barnwood wax.  We rubbed this on with a lint-free rag and buffed with a clean rag until it was smooth.  This went very quickly!  The following day I put two coats of Heirloom Traditions Aqua Clear on the top surface to protect it from damaging chemicals that may be used to clean it in years to come.  That's it! 
"Barnwood" table complete.
No fear of bugs, but you have the natural look and feel of barnwood.  So there is your green light!  Bring that natural element into your home while leaving nature outside where it belongs.

This is from you!