Category Archives: Home Improvement

Planter Transformation

I had the wonderful opportunity to share this cool backyard project over at Applestone Drive earlier this week. I thought I would share it here as well just in case you missed it.

If you are like me, you might be starting to get out in the yard and do a little work. Not that I really do a whole lot because I wasn’t blessed with a green thumb and our flower budget isn’t all that big. But I still like to add a few pops of color where I can.

This is what our back yard deck has looked like in years past. It’s not that bad, but definitely room for a little improvement. This year, I decided to start things off in the color department by spray painting some of our existing planters.

Most of them are plastic and fairly plain. They serve their purpose fine but really aren’t all that attractive. I did a little research and found that some spray paints work on plastic.

After a trip to Lowe’s, I decided to go with Valspar’s spray paint which says on the can that it works on most plastics.

I chose orange and blue since I already had such pretty greens in my plants and patio cushions. Before painting, I lined all the pots up and sprayed them off with the water hose to get them good and clean. Then I used plastic shopping bags to protect the plants from the spray paint.

Next, I spread out garbage bags to protect my deck from turning orange and blue and applied the first light coat of paint. Spray paint works best if you apply in several thin and even coats.

So coat….

after coat… I sprayed until each planter was fully covered.

I just love the added touch of color the planters give the space now.

It makes me so happy to look out our living room windows and see this. Don’t be afraid of using bold colors. Nature is full of them, and they all work well together. I am leaning towards painting the rest of my planters now! For under $10, I was able to update the look of our planters in our backyard.

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Drapery Transformation

Last week I mentioned (here) that we had been working on a couple of minor projects for the living room. One is our fireplace upgrade to electric logs, and the other is adjusting our existing draperies for ring clips.

It’s not anything major, but it is really beneficial for us. We bought the drapery panels a few years ago in an effort to help insulate the huge glass sliding door and for privacy. The houses behind our house sit on a hill slightly above us, so they can see over our fence and into our back yard and house.

The draperies were made to just slide onto the rod… so that’s what we did. The problem with this method was that it made it hard to pull them back. Which is a must in our house because we love the natural daylight and the view of the back yard.

FYI: This picture was taken in the summer and does not depict the lack-of-color state it is in now.

So in the end, we found we really didn’t close them that much. Especially since the draperies really didn’t help with keeping the downstairs any warmer. Thankfully, we have electric logs for that problem now. I’m not really sure why we didn’t want to go with the ring clips when we purchased the draperies a few years ago. Oh, well!

I’m pretty sure ML came up with the idea (we will give him the credit) to use our existing draperies and fold the top down to compensate for the added length of the ring clips. Making it easier to open and close plus helping the draperies not look as heavy. I really liked the idea, so off he went to BB&B (Bed, Bath, and Beyond) and picked out ring clips on his own! He came back with two different sizes for me to choose from.

So we took two drapery panels down and began our transformation. Before we attached the clips though, we washed the drapes. The tag said dry clean only, but we went out on a limb and washed them and then hung them back up to dry. We laid garbage bags on the floor to catch any water that dripped off. We are happy to report that they turned out just fine after washing them!

ML being the more mathematically inclined person calculated how much the draperies needed to be folded. Then he divided the length of the curtain, so he would have equal spacing between the ring clips.

We hung both sizes up, so we would be certain which one worked best. It took us all of about two seconds to decide we liked the larger rings best. But we left them up for a few days weeks just to be sure or because I forgot to take pictures of them hanging up.

You can see the difference in the two different size rings on the right. (Sorry for such a dark picture… and ignore Buddy the cat.) So Saturday while we were out and about running errands, we returned the smaller ring clips to BB&B and bought three more packs of the larger ring clips. Then, while I was cooking supper that night (which involved a horrible accident of me rubbing my eye with jalapeno juice, crying my mascara off, and going blind for a few seconds), ML folded the rest of the panels down. Then, he pinned the ends to keep them from looking funny and hung them up with the ring clips.

And since we didn’t harm the draperies by pinning them, if we want to ever go back to the old way of hanging them we can. I’m not really sure why we would though. Now that they are up, we aren’t sure what took us so long to hang them this way. They are so easy to open and close and take up way less space when they are pulled back.

Originally, I felt like we needed a longer curtain rod, but now I really don’t because they take up so much less room. It’s hard to believe they are the same draperies. We also love the look of the ring clips attached to them.

And here’s a little secret… the clips aren’t the same color as the rod. No big deal though because you can’t really tell the difference from a distance.

So anyway, now if we want a little privacy, we can easily close our draperies.

What do you think? Do you have any projects that have been half completed for a while? Or have you made any drapery transformations recently?

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It’s Getting Hot in Here

Last month, when we went to visit my parents for Noah’s book shower, something caught our eyes in my room. I have always had a mantle in my room. It’s basically a decoy though since there isn’t a chimney connected to it… but it always looked nice. We noticed this time, however, my parents had moved their old set of electric heater logs in front of the mantel. As soon as we saw it, Michael Luke and I mentioned to each other that that was what we needed for our fireplace.

Our fireplace came installed with gas logs.

You can’t even really see them in this picture, but that’s basically how we viewed them, as non-existent. We have only turned them on once because natural gas has been expensive the whole time we’ve owned the house. It was also pretty pointless because there was no fan attached to the logs, so all the heat escaped through the chimney instead of heating the room. Basically, we just had a set of logs in our fireplace that was useless.

As I sat there looking at the logs in my childhood room and dreaming of a set in our house, it dawned on me that my parents probably wouldn’t care if we took them. It’s not like we would ever use them at their house because my room always stays nice and toasty. So we began making plans to have our gas fireplace converted to a wood-burning fireplace.

The gas to wood-burning fireplace conversion would make things easier since all we would have to do is just slip the electric logs inside. So ML began doing a little research on companies that could cut the existing gas line off to the fireplace and clean our chimney. Thankfully, Groupon happened to be running a special for chimney cleaning, so we snatched it up. For any local Birmingham peeps, we used Black Widow Chimney Services. They did a great job, and I wish I had taken before and after pictures of the inside of our fireplace.

On a side note, ML tried to make it home the day the chimney guy came incase I had to feed Noah or something and so I wouldn’t be home alone. Unfortunately, the chimney guy showed up early before ML had a chance to leave work. I’m not scared of being home alone or anything, but you just never know who you might be letting into your house… safety first. But it just so happened that he showed up when I was working on the Orange Sorbet dessert for Valentine’s Day. I was slicing the oranges with a large (probably 10″) knife, so when he came to the door, I answered it with the knife in my hand. Haha! I doubt that scared him, but if he would have been dangerous, he might have had second thoughts at that point. So for the first few minutes he was in the house, I continued slicing my oranges with my weapon. Not that I had any intention of harming him… he turned out to be a nice guy, but it did make me feel secure and like I was in charge. That night, I told Michael Luke how I answered the door, and he said I should answer the door like that anytime I am home alone and I am not sure who it is.

To get back on track, we were more than excited after our fireplace was cleaned. We still didn’t have the electric logs though, since we didn’t ask my parents for them until after we left their house. Last weekend, we went to visit them though and brought the logs back with us!

Sunday night, we installed them and had ourselves a nice cozy fire! They are perfect for us because our downstairs is always cold in the winter. One reason for this is because we have a crawl space underneath the house, so our floors never really get warm. Late Tuesday afternoon, I turned them on, and by the time we had finished supper, the little electric logs had warmed the downstairs up six degrees! Another plus is that while it warms the downstairs up, the upstairs doesn’t get overheated. So when we go to bed, it is nice and cool. Perfect for climbing under the covers.

We love that the logs have a light in them to add to the ambience of the room and to give them a realistic look. And because they are actually in the fireplace, they light up the whole inside. We are so excited about having them.

You can see where Michael Luke has the electrical wire coming out of the left side of the fireplace. It’s really not that noticeable, especially if you are sitting on any of the sofas in the room.

And if we ever have 10 or 15 people over at a time (which is possible, read about one occasion here), we can just turn the light on and leave the heat off.

So incase you somehow missed my excitement in this post, we are SUPER excited to have our new (to us) electric logs. Thanks Momma and Daddy!

What about you? Have you been excited about a new feature in your house? Do you have gas, electric, or wood burning logs? What are your thoughts on them?

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