Home » Crammed In Like Sardines: My Insane “Upgrades” and A Quick Project

Crammed In Like Sardines: My Insane “Upgrades” and A Quick Project

I’m plotting. . .lots of plans to give the old gal (aka our 100+ year old row house) a facelift.

A lot of things are driving this added self-imposed insanity. . .

1.  I’m a type A psycho and I hate hate hate seeing the house starting to show some age from the first major overhaul we gave her nearly a decade ago.

2.  The kid.

3.  The prospect of more kids.

4.  My intense desire to be authentic and creative and foster an environment where my kid(s) can learn, understand, appreciate, explore, anything they wish, while feeling safe and supported.

5.  An increased interest in easily maintaining the house.  (See also, we make a lot of messes).

So I’m looking around surveying what I love, what annoys me, and how we really live in said rooms.

And then I become depressed because I should just tile every surface and put a drain in every floor. . .because we clearly make a lot of filth and mess.

I like an eclectic collected look. . .but not too cluttered.  With children nothing can be too precious.  And I didn’t really budget for major changes so I’m starting small until I have the um ovaries necessary to break out a circular saw.  And I will.  Do you hear me husband?  I WILL.

I’ve done a couple of things so far:

1.  I decided I hated the fact that the snow-white box pleated dust ruffle on our bed always looked dirty because the pets constantly rub against it.  So I cleared out the junk from under the bed (suffice to say Goodwill just received the mother lode of adorable gently used size 7.5 shoes) and removed dirty dust ruffle forever.  It makes the room look larger now that you can see the floor under the bed the whole way to the other side of the room.  Now I only have to worry about the dust bunnies.  Sigh.

A fresh wall to junk up.

2.  In the stairway leading to the basement, we had a salon-style picture wall with a variety of frames, art, photos, etc.  It looked cool but it was becoming very impractical.  These days, we are dragging the vacuum and laundry baskets up and down those stairs far more frequently and at break-neck speeds.  Things were getting knocked helter skelter a lot.  Plus, Mac recently realized he loved almost nothing more than to stand at the baby gate and push the most reachable frames around, knocking them off the wall and down the stairs routinely.

So earlier this week, I removed everything, patched and painted the wall.  My Husband says it looks way too empty.  I agree.  But I’m not rushing any decisions about what to hang there.  I’m considering two picture wires strung horizontally.  (The kind with the little metal clips.)  This way, when Mac starts cranking out drawings and art, we have a rotating display.  I also considered transferring photos to stretched canvases.  I won’t mind if they get kicked around:  they aren’t expensive and there are no frames to break.  To learn how to do the transfers check out these posts:  Canvas Transfer  and Canvas Transfer Part 2.

A very unappealing blank canvas.

3.  I’ve removed the curtains in our kitchen.  While so far, I haven’t embraced the stark quality of just a white window shade, I’m much happier that I’m not continually appalled at all the cat hair clinging to the curtains.  Plus, Mac liked to pull on and put the perpetually gross curtains in his mouth, so now we don’t have that problem.  I think we’ll have someone build us a radiator cover and I’ll weigh my options.  We need something for privacy and to keep out harsh afternoon sun but I’d like it to be minimal and easy to maintain.

4.  And I’m moving clutter around.  There’s a wall outside our lower level bathroom that I had always envisioned being covered in assorted gold frames and mirrors floor to ceiling.  So I’ve been arranging what we have – which is enough to cover 4 walls of the same size!  And the other night as I was hanging some of them I had an idea to add a little more interest:  STENCIL.

Stencils fell out of favor for a while.  Do you remember those dated Dutch Country style stencils done in primary colors – frequently in a kitchen or bath?  Not for us.

However, these days you can get your hands on some pretty fantastic looking stencils at reasonable costs.  All you need to successfully complete the project are a few supplies and patience.

Years ago, I purchased a couple of books containing a bunch of interesting stencils.  I remembered I had one of a bird.  And I wondered what would happen if I tried using a liquid (gold) leaf with the stencil?

Deciding I could always paint over any disastrous outcomes, I used some painter’s tape to affix the stencil to the wall and carefully applied liquid leaf with a paint brush – yes, a paintbrush – not one designed for stencils.  I positioned the stencil at various angles – sometimes not completing the whole stencil for greater interest.

It just took a couple of minutes and although I’m not sure I’m “done,” I like the results so far.

A couple of tips:

1.  Liquid leaf has a thinner consistency than other paint.  You should expect some bleeding.  Work carefully with a small paint brush.  I kinda’ like the “fuzzy” edges, but I was definitely trying to avoid drips.

2.  Remember, odd numbers are more visually interesting than even.  If you want to stencil birds (or whatever) onto a wall randomly, go for 1, 3, 5, etc as opposed to 2, 4, 6.

3.  Let the stencil dry between uses.  And don’t rush it.  I’m impatient.  I rushed it.  Now I have a few smudges to touch up with the original wall color.

4.  You could also take your brush with a very light hand and fill in parts of the stencil with the leaf – very lightly. . .This way, the outline looks darker and there is some shading in the stencil itself.  It’s also a good way to cover up smudges within the stenciled area.

5.  If you rent and can’t paint directly on the walls, try stenciling onto canvas or cloth and hanging it on the desired wall instead.

6.  You can make stencils or repeated prints on nearly any surface with a variety of common objects:  Kitchen implements, round caps, wooden toy blocks, even a whole fish! to name a few. If you can’t find what you are looking for, you could make your own stencil using freezer paper or by carving a potato, wine cork, or linoleum blocks found in craft stores.  Really.  Google it.  You’ll be unproductive for hours!

I’m off to research fabric options for new curtains. . .Why is the most interesting fabric so damned expensive?!  I was looking for a cool pattern. . .Ikat? Chevron, Stripes, Animal Print. . .Anyone have a good source?  It doesn’t have to be actual home decor fabric, since we have the blinds, I could go lighter-weight. . .

3 Responses to “Crammed In Like Sardines: My Insane “Upgrades” and A Quick Project”

  1. I’m sure we’re nowhere near each other, but I adore this fabric store in downtown Lawrence, KS. They have the most adorable mix of prints and everytime we visit Lawrence I have to go in and look at all the awesome. Now if I only knew how to sew.


    • Deni Lyn says:

      Oh! Thank you so much for the recommendation and the links! I’m definitely going to check it out. Unfortunately, I’m in Maryland so an in-person visit is not likely in the near future. And, remember, if you see something you really love there, you can always make a bunch of no-sew projects. . .I especially love fabric on chest of drawers or other unlikely furniture (all you need is a staple gun, scissors and patience) or framed for wall art. Or use some spray adhesive to adhere it to just about anything. . .notebook covers, storage boxes, etc.

      Maybe you already do this sort of cool stuff? I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t had time to visit your blog yet. But I’m definitely going to check it out ASAP. I’m looking forward to it.

      • I’m brand spankin new to blogging so you’ve got time to catch up. 😉

        Thank you so much for the ideas – I’ve tackled curtains and the top of a vanity bench, but that’s about the extent of it. Would be sooooo cute on a dresser! And I just bet I could find some fun and cheap frames at the flea market that would be fun to paint!