pretty posies

Today I have a small-scale before-and-after for you, and then—you’ll never guess!—an after-after.  Scratching your head?  You’ll see.  It started with my frustration over the lampshade in the living room.  The lamp (secondhand) came with a shade that clearly wasn’t meant for it.  The fabric exterior, a crinkled white something-or-other, was okay, but the thin plastic interior had some spiderweb cracks going on.  I tried to keep that side turned to the wall, but there was another issue.  The lamp was missing its harp, the metal thing that braces the shade.  So the shade would dip and turn and wobble all over the place.

Then in the bedroom, I was having a different lamp problem.  The stick lamp in the corner looked anemic next to the larger things I had put near it.  Its narrow drum shade whispered, “Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy.”  I think you can see where this is going.

living room lamp pre-swap, with crinkled bell shade


bedroom lamp pre-swap, with narrow drum shade

I swapped the two shades, and gave the bedroom lamp’s harp to the living room lamp.  Who cares if the bedroom lamp is crooked?  I actually haven’t encountered that issue since the swap because the bedroom lamp gets a fraction of the use the living room lamp gets.

post-swap: living room lamp with narrow drum shade post-swap: bedroom lamp with crinkled bell shade

The only new issue to emerge was color deficiency.  You know me….  I bore the whiteness of the original living room lampshade because it at least had texture.  The new one, on the other hand, was far too sleek.  I mean, boring.  Thank goodness I had some leftovers I didn’t want to eat.  What?  Confused again?  Hang tight.

First I removed the shade and marked lines with painter’s tape every four inches.  (The circumference of the shade, which I forget now, was divisible by four.)  I placed one tape line arbitrarily and then placed the next line parallel to it, repeating until I had lines evenly spaced around the whole shade.  At first I measured from the right side of Tape Piece 1 to the left side of Tape Piece 2, and when I went to place my final piece I realized I had messed up my math.  So I took off all the tape and went back around measuring from the left side of Piece 1 to the left side of Piece 2.  I hope this picture explains what I’m saying.

measuring space between tape pieces

I’m not nearly nimble enough to hold a measuring tape and attach painter’s tape at the same time, so to mark where the next tape piece should go, I stuck straight pins in the lampshade’s binding.  One marked the top edge and one marked the bottom edge.  If I stretched the tape so it touched both straight pins, I was guaranteed a line parallel to the one before it.

painter's tape in parallel lines on narrow drum shade

First the prep work, then the fun!  Remember I mentioned leftovers?  I had this baby bok choy I bought for about $1.50 at the Asian market.  It was novel; it was tasty; after eating it for two weeks Lovey and I were no longer enchanted.  Seriously, would we ever be able to eat it all?!  Throwing away food makes me feel very guilty, so I decided I would use the remaining vegetables…just not the way nature intended.

gathered craft supplies: taped shade, paint, rag, "palette," bok choy

I had noticed once while preparing baby bok choy for a meal that the bases look like adorable flowers.  I knew someday I would revisit this observation.

bok choy flowerettes

A little blue dip and a firm press to the shade, and I had something new–the after-after I mentioned at the beginning.

bok choy dunked in blue paint

Here’s how it looks finished.  I like the “freehand” look, and the fact that it’s one more blue element in my redefined living room color palette.

finished shade with blue flower pattern

I have one more exciting flower project to show you, and this one isn’t painted!  (If only.)  Last weekend I turned heaps of beheaded roses like this…

heap of bedheaded lavender roses and petals

…into a rose petal carpet where one lucky bride and groom said their vows.  The terrace you can see through the window in the photo below is where the ceremony took place.  The silhouette in the foreground is the co-worker without whom I would have never completed this task.  We glued petals to fabric from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm, with a couple fume-free breathing breaks factored in.

H gluing white and lavender rose petals to template

At first it seemed like we might never reach the end of our massive undertaking–am I allowed to say “undertaking” about a wedding project?–but when we started to apply the purple petals the design finally emerged.  It’s hard to tell here, but the tiny “overlap” spaces are lavender, from the pile of petals in the first picture, while the larger squarish portions are a darker shade.

interlocking circle pattern emerging in purple, lavender, and white

Here’s how it looked more-or-less complete.  When we laid the carpet on the terrace we realized there was no way it would stay in place, so we had to secure the edges with duct tape.  Then we spent a little extra time carefully placing petals on areas that didn’t look as filled in as we wanted them to.  Did I mention it was 42 degrees with a north wind?  And that we were on the upper level of a tall building?  Yeah; we could barely feel our ears, let alone our fingers.

H filling bare spots on the rose petal carpet on a windy 40-degree afternoon

Whining aside, this was one of the most impressive projects I’ve ever been part of.  If you want to see more from this wedding, which I think I can safely say was The event of the season, click here to see the post on our shop blog!


single curtain seeks mate

You may remember that I finally found a perfect-enough curtain for the bedroom window.  If you forgot, or never heard about it in the first place, no worries; I will bring you up to speed.  (Click here for the original story about how this curtain became The One.)  Here it is pulled across the window.  That looked okay.

one curtain, covering whole window

What looked slightly less okay was the curtain in its only possible “open” position, but I better explain the reason for that position.  Our apartment came with ridiculous, ugly, and out-of-date drapes on a pulley.  Kind of like drapes in a cheap motel, though thankfully not patterned like an ’80s bedspread.  I never liked them but I did adapt to living with them–until I started updating the bedroom.  Then they just had to go.  Technically we’re supposed to get our landlord’s OK to change the curtains, but I’d rather not risk being told no.

one curtain, open {pulled to center of window}

I’m keeping the originals nicely folded in a closet and figuring that as long as what faces out is white (like the originals) no one will be the wiser except the pest control and maintenance guys–the only staff who see this room from the inside–and they don’t care.  But the rod for the old drapes has a fairly sophisticated attachment I don’t want to recreate upon moving out, so I tried to work with it.  I attached the shower-curtain rings over the rod.  There was just one problem.  The sliders that allow the drapes to open and close aren’t removable.  The rings aren’t wide enough to slide over them.  So the only way to rig this curtain was to use the pulley to move the sliders to the middle, then attach six rings on each side of the sliders.  Thus, the only possible way to have the curtain open is to slide the sides into the awkward position above.

After trying to pretend I was okay with that look, I decided I should add another curtain.  Drama ensued.  The curtain was out of stock at my local Target.  It was an “in-store-only” product.  When I went back a few days later they still didn’t have it, even though the person I talked to when I first learned of the shortage assured me that more were coming.  I might have sighed a hundred times and scoured the web like a madwoman.  I know it’s dumb.  It’s just that moderation has left me stranded more than once.  I’ve learned that if I find something compelling, as long as the price is right I should commit without hesitation.  I was kicking myself for saying, “One is enough…I think” and not buying a second one just in case.  It was a few weeks before I found the same curtain in stock again, to my immense (probably disproportionate) relief.  Weird fact: they had changed the packaging.

packages for curtains bought at different times

These two curtains are very happy together.  Much like Lovey and me, they part ways in the morning and come together again in the evening.  And I think it works.  I’ve tried not to insist on rigid symmetry in this apartment’s decor, but in this room I think symmetry is the best look, and I think my curtains are both relieved to have found a partner with whom they have so much in common.

two curtains, open {pulled to sides}

How about you?  Are you attracted to mirror-image matching or unfussy asymmetry?  Have you ever regretted not buying an extra of something, or not buying something at all?  (I still fantasize about a pair of purple pineapple lamps I walked away from in a thrift store.  They would have been so perfect!)  Have you ever waited to buy something and then been unable to get it when you were ready?  How do you decide when to go for a purchase and when to exercise a little patience?

a new coat

The new coat I’m referring to was for my shelf, not for me.  This is a $20 Walmart bookcase Lovey bought for his bachelor pad.  It’s heavy and poorly made–particle board, baby!–but it’s served its purpose for about five years and survived a couple of moves.  Not bad for furniture that cost a Jackson.  I invested a couple Washingtons into changing its look.  I learned the lazy way that I have to sand surfaces before painting them or all my work goes to waste.

sanded shelf ready to paint

So this time, with a sanding block that reeks of rubber (ew!), I took off what I hoped was enough of the laminate shine.  Then I covered the back of the shelf with orange spray paint, hoping to make the recesses of this big box “pop” instead of remaining in spooky shadow.  Seized by an impulse, I also painted the top and sides orange.

spray painting the shelf orange--on the balcony

Next, I hauled the thing indoors for its makeover.  I covered the day bed with a tarp and then leaned the bookcase against it so the maximum surface area lay exposed to my eager brush.

shelf-painting setup indoors

A little painter’s tape and some red lacquer later, here’s what I had:

adding red to the shelf

None of the pictures show it well, but on the sides and top there are areas where the orange shows through.  I thought that would add some interest to this piece and prevent it from looking like it was part of a set with the red bedside tables.

the shelf in its place

Right now the assortment of stuff in and around this shelf is very hodgepodge.  I’ve gotten rid of so much stuff that I don’t really need this shelf for anything but odds and ends, which doesn’t make for the nicest display.  I also have a hard time with accessories–I can dream up a scheme for furniture placement, textiles, paint, and all that, but when it’s time for art and tchotchkes I’m not sure what I want.  As you can see below, I’m experimenting with placement for some wall art.

the shelf in its context

Later today I’ll post one more minor change to the bedroom decor.  Look for that around lunch time!