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This Post Brought to You by…. Me!

Two of the decorating blogs that I read on a regular basis, both had posts about how pretty the Kleenex box is, on the same day. It was a Kleenex marketing invasion. God save me from this type of success. The first thing I do when I get sick is scour the house looking for the Puffs Plus with lotion, for the sake of my poor runny nose. I don’t care about the design of the Kleenex box. That is like trying to pretty up the toilet paper or the paper towels. I am just grateful we have tissues, and I’m not blowing my nose into a leaf, or a piece of Soviet newspaper.

Puffs Plus!

Puffs Plus!

I promise this post has not been sponsored by Puffs Plus.

In the news of The World’s Slowest Kitchen Renovation, I have a blind on my kitchen window! I also have an outrageous estimate for getting the window replaced with a larger window, but for now, I am thrilled to have a blind. The morning sun is brutal. My mom said she wasn’t able to do the dishes because the sun was in her eyes. This is tragic. I can’t risk losing an opportunity for someone else to do the dishes, so we installed a blind.

Ikea kitchen blind.

Ikea kitchen blind.

These blinds are wood blinds from Ikea. We have put them on all of our upstairs windows for privacy, but they come a little too wide for our windows. Long ago I bought one, just to see if we could trim it down, and it worked!

Downstairs in the office.

Downstairs in the office.

Using a jigsaw, we were able to trim that extra inch from one side of the blind, so they fit the window (by we, I mean Stuart). You can’t tell that they have been altered and we have saved lots of money this way. The cost was $25 per blind, which is an approximate savings of $1000 per window. Wood blinds that are not from Ikea cost a fortune.

Bedroom windows.

Bedroom windows.

The color match on these Ikea blinds is just right for our old wood trim. They come in white and blonde wood and several different sizes, and if you own a jigsaw, you can cut them to fit.

I promise this post has not been sponsored by Ikea either, although I am open to offers.

© copyright Mariam d’Eustachio 2014 at Simply Turquoise.

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The Dead of Winter

I have no inspiring words for you. It is cold and dreary and if you were to take an “i” out of inspiring, you would get in-spring. But alas, we are not in-spring yet. Even the groundhog has dashed our hopes with a forecast of six more weeks of winter. I can’t blog because I am so easily distracted by Expedia offers and checking the “Wanna Get Away” deals on Southwest Airlines. The arctic, tundra-like landscape seems to be here for good.

But the other day, in the cool, crisp morning and freshly fallen snow, I was walking the dog and was struck by the quiet. There is nothing so still as a fresh snowfall. I seemed to be waiting an interminable amount of time for her to do her business, when I spotted the red head of a woodpecker. He was so bright in contrast to the white snow and the brown woods. He was singing his song and was alone in the landscape. This woodpecker was beautiful and my spirits were lifted. Perhaps, spring is not as far off as I think. In fact, we may already be over the hump.

So take heart! In between episodes of “Sherlock” and replacing the keys the baby keeps lifting off of my computer keyboard, I have a few projects simmering. I have officially started “The World’s Slowest Kitchen Renovation” with a found batch of hardware from Craig’s List. I scored 40 handles for $20. They are the shape I was looking for, but need to be painted. After consulting a friend who is a paint expert, I soaked them in a vinegar solution, primed and painted some of them. I have to wait for warmer weather to spray paint, but I have finished a few. Here is a sneak peak:

Vinegar solution.

Vinegar solution.

Primed.

Primed.

Painting.

Painting.

New hardware!

New hardware!

Okay, so far I’ve only done three.

What are you doing to shake this cold? I love to snuggle with my pup and drink some hot tea. Daydreaming about Benedict Cumberbatch warms me up a bit too. Excuse me, I think “Sherlock” is on again. Until next time!

© copyright 2014 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

How To Install A Stair Runner

I have had a runner rolled up in the closet for 11 months. This implies a sad backstory, and it is true, there is a sad backstory. Here is a picture of the grim day, 1 year ago, when my project failed:

Stair Runner Fail.

Stair Runner Fail.

I wanted a runner on my stairs, but did not want to spend the money on a proper runner and rushed into it. I nailed thin cotton runners to the stairs before I knew what I was doing, and it did not work. The material was too thin and it would not stay put and after pulling up the failed runner, I had large holes in the staircase.

I bit the bullet and ordered a custom runner, made of a black and natural sisal weave with a sturdy backing, from Will’s Home Decorating. It ended up costing about $600 and took a long time for me to get it.

A black and natural sisal weave.

A black and natural sisal weave.

By the time I got it, I felt defeated and did not want to try to install it on my own. I had done a bit of research and found this helpful tutorial from This Old House, but I was not ready to tackle the project. Hence the 11 months it has sat in my closet.

Until recently, when my friend told me that Young House Love had just posted on stair runners. My first thought was, “I hate them! They are so industrious! Why do they always beat me to it?” Uncharitable thoughts I know. Of course, my carpet was still in the closet, so that should have been the first clue as to why they are more successful bloggers than I.

I actually read their post (found here) and it was quite helpful. They went through the steps more thoroughly and I was inspired to try again. With only two trips to the hardware store, I did it. All By Myself.

The new stair runner!

The new stair runner!

At times, the oak staircase seemed to laugh at me, practically repelling the staples as I was trying to drive them in. Next time I install a runner, please let it be a pinewood staircase instead of oak. Oh man.

View from the top.

View from the top.

 Materials:

one carpet runner (Choose carefully as this will make or break your project.)

3 2×8 grip pads

electric or pneumatic staple gun (Use caution as you could shoot your eye out with this thing. I purchased mine from Home Depot. It was a PowerShot Pro and cost $27.46.)

eye protection

staples– this depends on how bulky your runner and padding are. I used ½” staples which were long enough to grip and go in, but not so long that I was not able to drive them into the oak at all.

Tape Measure

Black Sharpie 

Blue Tape

Hammer

Ibuprofen (For the day after.)

How-To:

Measure the height of each riser and the depth of each tread. Add this together to get the length of carpet needed and multiply times the number of stairs. Add an extra foot of length for overlapping any seams.

My stairs get wider at the bottom, so I had to center the runner at the narrowest point. I marked the lines with tape where the rug would go, and made sure it looked straight.

Use tape to mark the stairs.

Use tape to mark the stairs.

Cut the grip pads into sections and color the staples with Black Sharpie. A genius idea by the Young House Love team.

Carpet gripping pad.

Carpet gripping pad.

Color the staples.

Color the staples.

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I started at the bottom of the staircase and stapled the runner on the riser and under the bull-nose. I did not staple the treads, except at the very back, as close to the riser as possible, to secure the rug. I had to put some muscle into it and briefly wished Stuart was not at work.

Stapling was the hardest part.

Stapling was the hardest part.

My runner was in two pieces, so there is a seam. I lined up the second piece under the first piece and stapled it down. I then trimmed the first piece of carpet with scissors so it would end just under the bull-nose and stapled it over the second piece. This made the seam less obvious. I then continued up the stairs with the second piece of carpet. At the top, I trimmed the carpet just under the bull-nose of the top step and stapled it in place.

The rug in two pieces.

The rug in two pieces.

I was able to finish in an afternoon. Today I am taking Ibuprofen and trying not to walk past the staircase every 5 minutes to admire my handy work.

Sisal stair runner.

Sisal stair runner.

It feels good. It feels sturdy. The decibel level of the children going up and down has dimmed to a quiet thumping. I only wish I had not waited 11 months to install it.

 ©copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

A Kindred Spirit

The other day, I met a man in the hall. I was standing outside my office, and he was wheeling a rolled up Persian carpet, into the elevator. I don’t know what I said to make him stop and chat, and maybe the carpet was just really heavy and he was looking for an excuse to rest, but he did stop. And time stood still.

I do not usually enjoy talking to strangers, but he seemed to be a kindred spirit. I cannot describe the instant bond we shared. I learned more about life in that hour than in the whole of last year. We discussed things about rugs I did not already know, clarified how much of an art rug-making is, and I was truly inspired. He had recently lost his wife to cancer, and may have been starved for conversation, but it was a moment that I will never forget.

Bakhtiari Tribal Rug.

Bakhtiari Tribal Rug.

I missed the Webinar I was scheduled to attend, and risked the wrath of my boss, but it was worth it. I learned that quality hand-made rugs are as individual as fingerprints, with each tribe having their own designs. I learned that rugs are masculine and feminine, with the floral feminine rugs representing formal décor and geometric masculine rugs casual décor. The movement in the rug will set the tone of your room.

The Seasons.

The Seasons.

I learned that the Bakhtiari rug in my living room that I so love is a tribal masculine rug with squares depicting the seasons. I learned that a rug in the dining room should be dark in color (to mask stains) and should not compete in design with the chair legs. It has to be 2 feet longer than your table on each end and 1 ½ feet longer on each side. It should be of the highest quality because this room represents hospitality; eating together is of utmost importance among friends and family.

A masculine rug is more casual.

A masculine rug is more casual.

I have always loved rugs, and in my own home, seem to favor the masculine type. It is rare to meet someone who understands rugs as art. They seem to be almost an extinct breed.

A masculine rug.

A masculine rug.

That day, in a dingy hallway, I learned about the art of life and reinforced my love of rugs. They are a critical component of any good design.

 © copyright Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise 2013.

A Painting Frenzy

I know you doubted me. Don’t worry, I doubted myself. I didn’t think I could do it either.

You were almost right. It almost didn’t happen. Then, in a crazy slow motion kind of way, everything lined up. The kitchen paint job turned into a community-based project. I had help: kid help, babysitting help and friend help. It was a long day filled with giddiness at the change that was going on, disgust at the dirt that had been exposed (mixed in with a little shame), and fun. The atmosphere was charged, as if I had placed all my chips on the table, and the result? It is fabulous.

Paris.

Paris.

Kitchen painted Benjamin Moore's Indi go go.

Kitchen painted Benjamin Moore’s Indi go go.

Pot Rack.

Pot Rack.

Dog Food & Coats.

Dog Food & Coats.

Kitchen AFTER.

Kitchen AFTER.

I edited the things as I brought them back. I put a few bulky items in the basement, and I thought carefully about what I needed to have available. The microwave? It is still outside. I keep thinking, “who needs it anyway?” The jury is still out on that one.

My to-do list is long and impressive. I need to replace the fan, and now I really want a new floor and cabinets and counters…. (excuse me while I go buy a lotto ticket.) I love the color. It is dramatic, fresh and clean. But the paint? Paint is cheap and the impact is powerful. My bet paid off and I could not be happier.

 © copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

Indi go go

Sometimes the best results come when you break the rules. It is easy to get wrapped up in what you SHOULDN’T do. For example, using dark colors on the walls will make a space seem cramped and small or closed in.

I want to take a different approach. How about using dark colors on the wall to add drama or make my art pop? What if I use dark colors to highlight what I like best about my house: my art? What about using dark colors to make it feel cozy?

Inspiration.

Indigo Inspiration.

Art galleries do this. You will go into a gallery and the walls will be a deep royal blue and then migrate to a purple-y burgundy and move on into a hunter green. Against those rich colors, the rich colors in the art shimmer and shine, as you move from gallery to gallery.

I am going dark. In the kitchen. Breaking all the rules. It is a small space, with only two sources of natural light. But I have a feeling that this is the right thing here.

Art wall in the kitchen.

Art wall in the kitchen.

Next week I may be eating crow and taking it all back but a bright white ceiling, a new ceiling fan and indigo walls sound dramatic to me. The Benjamin Moore color name is Indi go go. It is speaking to me and I am  up for giving it a try. Navy blue, here we come.

Benjamin Moore Indi go go.

Benjamin Moore Indi go go.

 After all, it is only paint and broken rules.

© copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise. All rights reserved.

The Sweatshop

I’ve dusted off the sewing machine and brought it out again after a 5-year hiatus. Sewing curtains for my house in Lynchburg was a job worthy of a sweatshop, and I got a bit burned out.

My old friend.

My old friend.

I once spent three days making the cutest school uniform jumper for my daughter, only to have her come home from her second time wearing it, with Sharpie all over the front. What kind of teacher gives second-graders Sharpies? After that, I packed it up.

Parson's chairs in my New Jersey dining room.

Parson’s chairs in my old New Jersey dining room.

Until now. These old parson’s chairs have been bugging me. Originally, I bought them cheap when my New Jersey house was on the market, just to stage the house.

I had already cut the skirts off of two of the chairs and bought shorty slipcovers from World Market a couple of years ago. I decided it was time to use the old slipcover from World Market as a pattern and change it up by bringing in a navy blue fabric.

Slipcover as pattern.

Slipcover as pattern.

New Fabric.

New Fabric.

Cutting it out.

Cutting out the fabric.

Pinning the pieces.

Pinning the pieces.

Technical Part:

Making these slipcovers was fairly simple. I studied the way the World Market covers were constructed. I carefully measured the 6 pieces and cut them out for each chair. One large piece for the front and back with two side panels, and a seat with two more side panels. I first sewed the top of the chair to the side panels, and then sewed the seat to it’s side panels. I then stitched the top and bottom together and hemmed it, making sure the fabric was facing the right direction. This was tricky. Think jigsaw puzzle.

End Technical Part.

What inspired me to drag out the sewing machine after so many years? Perhaps it was a case of chair-envy I caught at my sister-in-law’s when she bought these beauties from Pier1:

Chair Envy.

Chair Envy.

Or perhaps it was because I had a similar fabric taking up valuable real estate in my office and I was inspired by my recent thrift store chair find:

Thrift Store Chairs.

Thrift Store Chairs.

In the end, I think it was just the desire for change without spending a fortune. I sewed the slipcovers during naptime and a little into the evening. This is how the chairs look now:

New slipcover.

New slipcover, messy house.

It’s not quite Pier1, but it’s still pretty good and I am happy. Now I am eyeing the windows on the porch and thinking, “shades would be lovely!” and “New pillows for everyone!”

The new slipcover.

The new slipcover.

And I know of only one place to get them: My very own Simply Turquoise Sweatshop.

© copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.