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Category Archives: decorating

Emotional make-over

Here’s a little project that I worked on over July 4th weekend. My sister had decorated her room in gray. I thought it looked nice, but she hates winter and said all the gray made for a depressing  winter. I told her I could make the sacrifice of going fabric shopping, so she could get new fabric for the curtains. I mean, it was going to really stretch me to go fabric shopping, but anything for family 🙂

Then, Jillian got here and said, “I want my curtain fabric to look a little like the old sheets that I had on my bed. You know, the ones with the yellow, blue, and pink flowers.”

I said, “Well, they didn’t have pink flowers. Do you want them back? They are still in my guest room closet because you gave them to me.”

She said she would take them, so now I was down a set of sheets and a fabric shopping trip. Me and my big mouth…

But, she did do some painting for me in exchange for the sewing I did for her. And, I will admit her room does look brighter now.

Jillian's bed before and afterJillian said that now she needs to find a blue bedskirt. I reminded her that I have a white one that I took from her too. But, she can have that back. It will help me clean the linen closet. And, she said I can have the gray comforter to see if I like it better in my black and white room. I guess giving up sheets to get a comforter is a fair trade.

Jillian's window before and after

Wall of floating books

Quilting has gotten off track around here since I took a hiatus to sew curtains for my sister (ahem…sister who reads this blog and owes me before and after shots for said blog). And, I was busy knocking out odds and ends projects in preparation for the arrival of my real estate agent yesterday. He came to evaluate the improvements I’ve made since taking over this fixer upper (and to evaluate the improvements that haven’t quite been made yet), and I should hear soon what the sweat equity I’ve gained.

The realtor’s impending arrival gave me the push needed to clean up the attic office, which had become cluttered basically to the point of being unusable (or, at the very least, unspiring). I’ve been meaning to hang the decor on the accent wall forever, and this totally turned out to be one of those — why-didn’t-you-do-this-two-years-ago-when-you-got-the-stuff types of projects. But, alas, it is done now.

floating book wallIt’s amazing. The desk was so covered with random junk just three days ago that it was unusable. Now, I just finished grading papers at it and and am typing this blog from it.

floating book wall-  desktop viewIf you were a pencil on my desk, here would be your view of my book wall. I know. You wish you were a pencil on my desk because your view would be so rad.

Floating book wall book close-upLest you think the wall is an attempt to make me look all pretentious and smart and stuff, you should know that the books are my faux letter bound collection of Agatha Christie novels. Personally, I think that faux leather bound Christie is rather ridiculous. It seems more appropriate to buy her in beat up old paperbacks, but I ran across these at a library book sale, justified the purchase by saying that I was supporting the public library, and there they are on the wall.

office looking toward deskWhile the office is clean, which doesn’t happen often, I’ll give you a tour. Here’s the view of the desk. The closet behind it is currently stuffed with all the junk that was on the desk. Yay, closet!

office - view from file cabinetHere’s the view from the other side of the room. Ignore the shoddy covering job on the ottoman; I just jabbed a few straight pins into the fabric before the realtor came; I need to take the fabric off at some point and make a legitimate slip cover. The window seat that I started awhile ago is under the air conditioner. I just realized that I never took pictures of that project, but I’ve decided that I have one more thing to add to it, so you’ll have to wait for the true reveal.

office - couchI have to show you a close-up of the couch. This is the first couch that I bought when I moved into the house, mainly because it was one of the only couches I could find for less than $300. My mom thinks that an armless, bean-shaped couch is ridiculous, and I will grant her the fact that it’s in the office now because it’s not super comfy to watch TV on a couch with no arms, but I still like this couch and can’t bring myself to get rid of it.

office - quilting fabricsAnd, finally, here is my quilt stash and Betzee sitting in her case beckoning me to come back to quilting. I opened up a bunch of floor space in my cleaning frenzy, so now I’m going to set up a table and sew up here in my more inspirational space — at least until mom and dad come to visit this week. Could it be possible that my dining room table won’t be sewing central anymore? We’ll see.

And, yes, that is the third closet in the room. There are four total. If I sell this place, I need a crafter to see this storage.

Deogi - sleeping with head off bedDeogi is less enthused with the space.

Deogi using pillow on couchAt least at one point, he decided that laying with his head off the dog bed wasn’t ideal, so he moved to the couch with a throw pillow.

Deogi - awake on dog bedAs I kept snapping pictures of him in his various sleeping poses, he’d wake up and look at me as if to say, “Hey! Could you show people that I’m awake some of the time.” Sorry, buddy, your leg splayed out behind you gives away the fact that you were sprawled out in a sound asleep only moments before I snapped the photo.

Basking in the (red) light

I drove my car on my recent jaunt to Louisville instead of flying. The return trip was about 9 hours long — not including bathroom breaks and stops at Value City Furniture. On the way to Louisville, I had seen that there was a Value City Furniture store, and I made specific plans to stop there on my way back to see if I could score some bookshelves with some decorative flair for somewhere in the house.

Instead, I came out with floor lamps — two of them. Oh, clearance section — you get me every time. One lamp is for the living room. I’ve got to track down a shade for it in the near future, but I’ve been thinking of putting a floor lamp beside the couch for some time since I want light coming from overhead when I sew not from beside me as it is cast from the inadequate table lamp.

The other lamp is for the black and red guest bedroom. Here’s the before shot.

guest bedroom without lampThe first thing that you should notice is the paint job that my sister did in the room. I love it. If I do decide to move, I’m going to miss that paint job, and we can’t replicate it exactly because we did some crazy mixing of a few different colors and glazes until she was (sorta) happy. She hated how the room turned out, but I wish I could peel the walls down and keep them. The picture actually doesn’t do it justice because the blending of colors is more subtle in reality.

Anyway, when I found the lamp, I know that it was the same red as the rest of the room. I’ve had this room in one iteration or another since my grad school days when my mom and sister surprised me when I came back to my new digs with tons of cute red accessories from Target. They were worried that my black, white, and red decorating scheme had taken a sharp turn towards just black, and they were worried that is signified deep impending distress about moving 9 hours from family. So, they decided I needed more red in my life. So thoughtful of them even if I really wasn’t sinking into distress.

The floor lamp that I found had a tag that said it was 85 inches high. Clearly, that wasn’t going to fit into Gretel, a car with only 48 inches of cargo space. I had just checked on that cargo space because I really, really wanted to buy a table that was on clearance. I saw a small wrench taped to the lamp, but for the life of me couldn’t figure out where to break it apart. I wasn’t even 100% sure that I wanted it. Would it fit? The red and black room is the smallest of the bedrooms in the house. Was it really, truly the right red?

Also clearance me and frugal me were fighting a battle. I know that sounds strange, but it’s possible. Clearance me was on a clearance high. The lamp was originally $230 dollars, a price that to me is quite unthinkable  for a lamp. It was marked down to $50. So clearance me was doing an internal happy dance that such a unique find could be had for over 75% off. Frugal me was still recoiling that the lamp was $50, which is still at the very outer reaches of what I’ll ever pay for an accessory in the house. Really, I’m running through all the accessories in the house….there may be a few groupings of wall hangings that came out to about that, but if someone breaks a vase in my house, there is a distinct chance that they’ve only busted up $4 worth of glass.

In the end, I decided that since I had worked overtime and since I plan for a black and red room to stay in my life for a long time to come, I would buy the lamp (after I told myself that I could probably off load it on Craigslist if I got it home and really didn’t like it).

guest bedroom with lampHere is it. I’m still not 100% sure that it doesn’t overwhelm the room, so it’s on lamp probation. I think once the headboard is installed, the height of the headboard will help tie the lamp into the room more cohesively. I need to get to work on that headboard; I have the rough draft of it in my head, and it involves and old door and houndstooth. I also need to beef up the collection of pillows on the bed. I have a plan in mind for them too. Perhaps I’ll sew them by the light of the new living room floor lamp.

It was pretty ridiculous to drive home with one floor lamp poking me in the elbow and the seats all folded down. It’s definitely not the typical person’s restroom break. What can I say? I was raised by a mother who once got so bored on a road trip that she pulled over with my sister and I to play a round of mini-golf before getting back on the road.

 

Bathroom Reveal

Ok, here is the moment. If we were on my hypothetical HGTV show, I’d make you close your eyes, trip up and down a few staircases, let you pause in awkward silence (while I winked at the hott carpenter), and then I’d yell, “Open your eyes!”

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, go read part one of the bathroom makeover.

If you know what I’m talking about, back to the program, “Open your eyes!”

bathroom afterHere’s the bathroom after I was done. Notice the matching cabinetry. Mom did a great job picking a blue for the walls; I find it hard to select appropriate blues. It’s hard to get one that’s not anemic while avoiding one that borders on neon. If you’re interested, for this project we used paint from Lowes. Almond Paste is the wall color in most of the room. Skyward is the name of the lovely blue, and the cabinets are (I think) – Mocha Twist.

I like what the shower curtain does for the room by making it feel more soft and diffusing the blue of the accent wall throughout the room. Plus, since there’s not much wall space in this bathroom, there’s not much chance for wall art. A pretty shower curtain has to carry the weight of visual impact. I didn’t get pictures of it, but I also made a simple blue curtain (not included in the 48 hours).

Now that you’ve had a moment to take it in, let me show you some of the smaller projects in the room. Dad and I had quite the task before us to get the entire bathroom done in a day. Well, ok, I will admit that I didn’t get started until about 9:30. I hope HGTV doesn’t make their stars get up first thing in the morning to be on set. If they do, then I hope the hott carpenter wants to enjoy morning iced coffees with me.

Mom’s dog had a grooming appointment I had to chauffeur her to  in the middle of the day, so I was working around that time frame. Before dad and I left the house, he took down the old light, removed the ghastly tiles above the mirror, and spackled over the general mess produced. I took the cabinet doors out to the front porch and primed them, primed the cabinet boxes and got the first coat of mocha paint on the boxes.

Painting the cabinets — or more specifically the side of the base cabinet closest to the toilet — was probably the worst part of the job. As I was crunched between the cabinet and the toilet, I kept repeating to myself, “I love my mom. I love my mom. I love my mom.” And that helped me get through — well, that and knowing that I had used some Lysol wipes that were under the sink to wipe down the toilet. On my HGTV show when stranger’s toilets are involved, the hott carpenter will need to remove the toilet from the room. Maybe we can put it on the client’s front lawns with a flower pot in the bowl and a hidden cam just to gather the neighbor’s reactions while we work. Yeah, I like that – a show that makes toilets funny.

Also, I will remove the toilet plunger from the workspace. I was too lazy to get a paper plate from the kitchen so I could put the plunger outside the bathroom without it being on the carpet (ew, gross). So, I kept moving it around the bathroom as I worked. At one point, as I was crunched beside the toilet to paint, I felt something poking me in the sternum. I was like, “What in the world…” BLEH! I realized in my rush, I hadn’t move the plunger, so I was being assaulted by it. Yes, the plunger and the toilet definitely need to be removed on the show.

That was about all that I was able to get done before leaving the house with the dog. Dad and I bounced back and forth between Lowes and Home Depot to get a new light, the supplies for the vanity and the mirror project — yep, there was a mirror project. Hold your horses, I’m getting to it. The hott carpenter will need to be able to handle that under pressure I get confused. I made us go to Home Depot since I momentarily forgot that I had bought the paint at Lowes (we needed access to the paint chips). At least I got to check the lighting section in both stores; I’m typically pretty obsessive about checking both stores when it comes to buying tile, lighting, etc. We had a late lunch while we were out. And to make a medium length story no longer, it was after 5 before we got home! Mom is supposed to get off work at 8:00.

Once home, and I started to feverishly paint the first coat on the accent wall while dad sorted out what was going on with the light. When I was done with the first coat of Skyward, we went out to the garage to cut the frame for the mirror. Ready for the mirror reveal?

bathroom mirror afterThe idea to frame out the mirror was Pinterest inspired – albeit a more simple form of the pin. If you’re interested in doing this, I recommend using wainscoating trim for the sides of the mirrors. There is a channel already routed out of the wood, so dad and I didn’t even have to remove the original mirror clips holding the mirror in place. We put the trim up (after I feverishly applied two coats of paint to it) and tacked it right into his place with the air nailer (or whatever that thingy is that attaches to his air compressor and holds me in spellbound terror as it shoots out nails).

We put the frame up after I had gotten time to paint the second accent wall coat of paint. And, somewhere in there, I was also trying to get paint on the cabinet doors out on the front porch because they couldn’t be in plain view when mom came home. The day was overcast, so we were losing workable light quickly. Dad and I got the light installed before the project ground to a halt.

Then, the race began. I started sputtering to him, “Towel ring…help with shower curtain rod!!!, switch plates back up, put tools away.” It was crazy. In the meantime, I texted mom a brief grocery list of items to bring home so we could stall for more time.

The bathroom finally came together except for the vanity project. Dad said to do the reveal without it, but I desperately wanted to paint it. We wound up choosing to go with Rustoleum’s Countertop Coating, which is designed to cover laminate countertops. Originally, we went into Lowes seeking out garage floor epoxy since I read online that someone used that to cover her countertops. But during a debate about how to tint the epoxy at the Lowes paint counter, the associate asked what I was doing with it (in retrospect, she probably did think I was nuts for being so particular about what color to paint the garage floor). When I told her that I was painting a vanity top, she recoiled in horror as if I’d just revealed a homicidal plot. She led us to Rustoleum’s product. I’m still holding my breath to see if it actually holds up; there was one spot on the metal tracking that I just could not get it to cover for some odd reason. I definitely don’t recommend it if you’re an inexperienced painter. I’ve been painting home interiors since I was in junior high (no lie), and I was having trouble getting a smooth evenly rolled coat because the paint, even though it says satin finish, has a glossy sheen. Also, if you’re pregnant or bothered by strong smells, I’d definitely advise strongly against using this product since the odors from it are pretty noxious even with an open window nearby. If you want to spend less than $25 to take a shot at updating a countertop and have the necessary painting experience, then for right now, I’d say go for it. Below is the before and after to help you decide.

bathroom sink comparison

So, did I actually get everything done within 48 hours. Well, no. I did have to go back in to put a second coat on the vanity top and to paint the trim work in the bathroom, but I got very close to completing everything in that time frame. HGTV, you can send me hott carpenter audition photos whenever you are ready.

bathroom mirror comparisonbathroom before and after

New Furniture

Classes finished last week, and this week is supposed to be final grading time. Sooooo, I refinished my entertainment center. Now, in my defense, I have guests coming to stay at my house starting Thursday of next week. They’ve never stayed at the house, so I wanted to use their arrival as motivation to get as many projects done as possible around here. I mean, if I’m going to do them, what better time than when someone else will get to enjoy them.

I started the week with visions of grandeur: 5 hours a day of Writing Center wrap-up, 1 hour a day of admin work, a few graded projects a day, and house projects galore. Yes, this indeed was to be my schedule for success except that I’m not good at multi-tasking, and when I took off on this little venture, I forgot how low my end of semester motivation can be. To make a long story short, I’ve charted this motivation for my readers.

Slide1Now, I’m at the point where I think I can get the house clean for the guests, finish up with grading by Monday, and still have 3 weeks of break in July (instead of 4) after finishing up Writing Center work. Yeah, I can live with that.

The entertainment centerproject snuck in right before my optimism bubble burst. Here’s a before picture of the piece.

entertainment center beforeSorry about the annoying flash, and please extend some grace and don’t be totally grossed out by all that dog hair that was uncovered once I cleared my board game stash off the floor.

With those disclaimers aside, I have to say that this entertainment center is one of my favorite pieces of furniture in the house. I bought it for $5 at an auction. The auctioneer couldn’t get anyone to jump on it, and my mom and I looked at each other and smirked at the 70s era piece. I said, “It looks like something from IKEA.” And the wheels started spinning. I stopped smirking and put in a bid right before the auctioneer gave up. I can’t believe I almost lost out on it.

I painted it black to fit my black and red living room theme in grad school, and it was one of the reasons that my parents rented a van to come help me move away from grad school because it was one piece of furniture that I did not want to part with.

But, as you can see, the trim in the new living room is brown. There’s not a stitch of black anywhere in the room, so the black paint had to go. So, why this week? I should have taken a before picture, but cords were snaking everywhere for all the electronic gadgets. The power strip that’s normally tucked up under the piece had migrated to the floor during a Roku hook-up, and the cable company sent me a new internet modem that I needed to activate. Still, so why this week?

Well, here is the list of characteristics that I’d like in a future husband:

  1. Must be actively living out his faith
  2. Must love me
  3. Must hook up all electronic devices

Yep, those three characteristics are nearly weighted evenly. I dread hooking up electronic cables, but I also dread house guests seeing the entertainment center askew with cords. So, if I was going to unplug everything and arrange it neatly, I was only going to do it once. That’s why the paint needed to go — now.

Furniture painting ventures on Pinterest fascinate me, and Kate over at Centsational Girl amusingly posted about how well a product called Citristrip worked for her. What I liked was that I could use it (supposedly) indoors. Since the entertainment center was built back in the day when furniture was made out of real wood, I didn’t relish the thought of dragging it outside; nor did I relish the thought of sitting out of the front porch until the wee hours of the night to be sure that no one would abscond with my beautiful entertainment center in the night while it dried.

I was skeptical that a furniture stripper really could be used indoors without a noxious smell, so I threw open windows to create a cross breeze. But, the smell, honestly and truly, wasn’t bad. Of course, when using any chemical indoors, I still recommend ventilation when possible.

If I remember correctly, I used a high gloss latex paint originally. The stripper said that it would take at least 30 minutes before scraping could commence. However, I noticed when my paintbrush overlapped into sections covered in stripped only moments before that some paint was already coming loose. Besides low odor and fast action, what else was so great about the stripper? It is a rather thick gel, so there was virtually no dripping. Even on the sides of the furniture, it stayed in place to do its job.

I painted the stripper all over the piece (except the rollout doors), then I went back to start scraping. A few places didn’t come off right away (probably due to sloppy application). But, I’d say about 85- 90% of the paint came off in the first go round. On that round, I scraped the best I could, found some rags to sacrifice and dry wiped the piece, and then applied a second coat of the stripper to the remaining paint spots.

To give you an idea, here is what everything looked like after round 1.

entertainment center round 1Pretty good, huh?

Round two started the tedious part because it involved getting paint out of the crevices. Plus, my attention span was flagging. If you have to get paint out of the crevices of furniture, do yourself a favor and arm yourself with two things – toothpicks and q-tips — plenty of both. If I didn’t have them, I’d have lost my mind. Obviously, you should also have on some good protective gloves throughout the entire process. I definitely think it’s not a good idea to come into direct contact with a substance that melts paint.

Once I was done with all my rags and toothpicks and q-tips, I thought the floor looked a little like the room of an ER after a trauma case (or at least that’s what it looks like when I watch my guilty pleasure ER shows on the Discovery Fit and Health channel).

Yeah, here’s to furniture trauma

furniture traumaI tossed that kitchen spatula, but it did come in handy to scrape paint off the curved legs.

So, after several hours of stripping, digging paint out of crevices, and yelling at Deogi to stop walking so close to the furniture, here’s the piece sans black paint.

entertainment center finished

Yay! Who cares that it was 11:30 at night when I reach this point and that I would still be up for a few more hours so I could be routed through 3 different Comcast call centers to get the new modem working.

entertainment center reassembled

A few obnoxious cords rear their ugly selves over the cable box, but now the power strip is tucked back under the entertainment center, and I’ll hide its cord after I mop the floor and stick the board games back under the entertainment center where they are kept so as to lure guests into playing them.

Now, I’ve only got two problems. Unfortunately, stripping the paint did seem to strip off a protective coating that I think used to be on the piece. I don’t want an ultra shiny shellac or poly coating on the piece, but the wood does look a little raw right now. Anyone have any suggestions for what I could rub into it to bring out the natural grain and give it a little protection without going overboard?

Also, I’m not fond of the color of the wood against the yellow walls. Uh-oh. Thoughts of repainting the living room were already faint in my mind before this little undertaking, and now, I’d really like to repaint. Ok, I don’t actually want to repaint (as in the process of doing it), but I would like the walls to be a new color. However, I’m going to make myself solemnly swear not to do that until I finish painting the trim and hallway ceiling that have never even gotten their first round of attention. Still, I might not be able to resist picking up some burgundy paint chips the next time I’m at Home Depot.

I’m linking this project up to one of my new favorite blogs, Young House Love, which is my new favorite substitute for the DIY channel — and if you know me, that’s saying a whole lot. Right now there is an unofficial spring Pinterest Challenge afoot paired with a link party. If I let myself fully explore all those links…well, I just can’t until I get this grading submitted.

Splashy bathroom

After the dog’s little hot chocolate adventure in the guest bedroom the other night, I figured it was about time to get in there to do some cleaning. The room became a bit of a dumping ground over the course of the past year, and I have guests coming in May, so now I have an incentive to get everything tidied up. In the process of cluttering the space, I put some wall hangings in the room that were ultimately destined for the bathroom.

Now, I cleaned the hot chocolate coating off this inspirational piece and put it above the towel bar where I’ll see it every morning.

pic above towel bar

It pains me to admit, but the adorable umbrella wall hanging is something that I bought with my grandma’s birthday money. That’s not the painful part. The painful part is that it was last year’s birthday, and it’s taken me this long to get the art on the wall so I can enjoy it. In my defense, when I first spotted the umbrellas I wasn’t sure where I was going to use them, but they were $17, and I just couldn’t pass them up. Now, they’ve wound up revolutionizing my decor plans for the bathroom. The quote above them is a vinyl decal that I picked up at Kohl’s, also eons ago. Now I’m on the hunt for some cute fabric, maybe with an umbrella motif or maybe just in fun primary colors because a bathroom this cute needs some curtains. Here’s a belated thank you to my grandma too! Thanks for helping make the room where I get ready in the morning cheerful.

umbrella on bathroom wall

I also did a little organizing of the quilt fabric. I remembered that I had a garment hanging rack still in the box in the basement, and I was getting frustrated that piles of fabric were invading my workspace (currently on the dining room table). So, I put two and two together and decided it would be a good idea to assemble the hanging rack, put the jumble of hangers in my closet to good use, and hang up my quilt fabric until I’m ready to use it. The assembly directions for the rack might be the best assembly directions I’ve ever seen. They literally say, “Please do not allow children or husbands to hang from or ride on garment rack.”

storing quilt fabrics

I also did a little quilting over the weekend. I have the diamonds all laid out for my Scrappy Lone Star quilt.

WIP scrapppy lone star diamonds

I sewed two of the diamonds together. On the first one, I ripped out the seams many, many times because I couldn’t get the points to line up. They are still just a smidgen off, which makes me a little crazy.

WIP scrappy lone star first set of pointsBy the second diamond, I think I was getting a little better at lining up the points, and I also didn’t have to rip out nearly as many seams. I hope to come across a better method to line up points like this, but for now, I actually sew a few stitches by the point and then pull the project out of the machine to make sure the points are aligned. Then, I do the same for the other intersection. Once I have both sets of points lined up and tacked, I sew the entire seam. The tutorial that I am using gives directions about how to pin the points for sewing, but I couldn’t figure out how to follow those directions without sewing over the pins. I figure at any rate, the intersections of the quilt should be nicely reinforced.

WIP scrappy lone star second set of pointsI’ve still got a little practicing to do, but I’ve still got two diamonds and then the feat of putting everything together, so there are plenty of opportunities left to practice.

Resourceful Creativity

I didn’t skip out on my goal of finishing a project this week; I’m just a bit late in getting up a post about it.

I got an assist from one of the Writing Center tutors this week as I finished up the binders that will organize our resources on the tables, so we can have easy access to them. This project actually started about 3 years ago when two of the Writing Center tutors started creating resources for use around the Writing Center. We wanted a standardized way of explaining concepts, and we wanted samples that we could copy over and over again without violating copyright laws. The tutors actually got to show off their work at the regional writing center conference, making me one proud director.

As we moved to our new space and got busier, I decided it was timedictionary on clothesline for the resource notebooks to get a facelift. I decided to recycle old training binders that the tutors had personalized for themselves with sharpies.

The first step was hanging a dictionary out on the clothesline.

I did this after I tea stained the pages by soaking them quickly in baking dishes of tea. If I ever do a project like this again, I’ll skip the tea staining. The pages were already of newsprint feel and color, which would have been fine for the project. So, other than a pretty cool picture, all I got for this effort was lots of mosquito bites.

Then, I enlisted the help of a friend and the tutors last semester to try to get the tea stained pages modge podged onto the binders. Well, sorta modge podged. We were working on a tight budget, so I tried to use the cheapo version of Modge Podge so popular on Pinterest – the one made out of Elmer’s glue and water. The end of the post will have some project that worked using that, but I do not recommend cutting corners when attaching newsprint to non-pourous binders. The process was laborious; pages stuck poorly and had bubbles throughout, and the binders felt gritty and dirty when dry.

So, this week, the goal was to repair the damage done in the previous round by trying to stick down loose corners the best we could and by giving the binders two coats of real Modge Podge. Now, we have a shiny finish,

resource notebooksand the books no longer feel dirty. Project for the week, completed!

Notice our cool scrollwork wall hanging in the background. One of the tutors and I cruised around to yard sales to find some decor, and we scored that beauty for $22. It took some creative maneuvering to fit it into the car because it’s solid metal and quite large, but the adrenaline from our good deal helped. The only way we could have gotten something like that cheaper would have been to go steal someone’s garden gate, which would have been frowned upon by administration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Center pencil holdersHere’s a fake Modge Podge project that did work out well, our pencil holders. I used fabric on salsa jars and tin cans and then dressed up the top of the containers with twine since my last experiments with twine worked out pretty well.

I’m partial to salsa jars for pencil holders. I think they are the perfect size.

I’m also glad that when the Writing Center was being designed I asked for a whiteboard behind the reception desk. As you can see in the background, it’s a veritable Grand Central Station of notes that we all leave for one another to help make sure everything keeps running smoothly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Center bookshelfWhen we moved into the Writing Center, we had two great bookshelves and no desk drawers. The problem is we have more office supplies than books. So, I went and bought the photo boxes that go on sale 5 for $10 at A.C. Moore and Michaels. We used fabric and fake Modge Podge on them as well, and they have been quite durable so far. I like how we were able to customize them to the space.

Given our lack of books, we needed more filler on the shelves, so on our yard sale excursion we picked up a bunch of hardback books for ten cents each, and I spray painted them rust colored. Spray painting books may sound easy; it is not. If anyone else is ever crazy enough to try, here is my advice. First, don’t. But, if you do, then take the time to prime the books before applying color. I didn’t. And, have plenty of newspaper and masking tape on hand so you can cover the edge of the pages.

And, yes, I know that fern is not looking so good; one of the tutors is trying to nurse it back to health. It goes against the Writing Center philosophy to give up on struggling things — even plants.

 

 

 

Writing Center bookshelf closeup

Here’s a close-up of our highly customized bookshelf vignette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Center work station

Once we put the binders and pencil holders together, here’s a look at one of our tutoring stations. Those green chairs are amazingly comfortable; I’m surprised they don’t induce more people to make one hour visits.

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Center cornerJust in case someone only has 30 minutes, here’s our clock to help us keep track of time. This one was a steal at $30. It’s the perfect size for the corner and color coordinates with our space so well.

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